There is an event next week known as the NFL draft, you may have heard of it. It’s a time of excitement for fans as they see their favorite college players move on and fulfill their dreams of playing in the NFL. As far as the Mountain West is concerned, they have some intriguing prospects who could hear their name called over one of the three days. This week’s question is two-parted: Who will be the first MWC player drafted and (if applicable) who will be the first player drafted for the team you cover?
Note: the following Friday, we will discuss the other players who may be drafted or signed as free agents. So save those thoughts for next week.
Mike: The Mountain West may not have a ton of big names this year but they definitely have a few players who figure to be taken in the first half of the draft. I think the two best players are JL Skinner and Jake Haener. Given that Haener is probably projected as a backup, he doesn’t figure to go in the early rounds. However, I think Skinner is one of the best safeties in this class and should hear his name called on Friday in the second or third round. Also, I’m curious to see where Jalen Cropper-Moreno goes as this year’s MWC speedy slot receiver who has done well at all-start bowls and other pre-draft workouts.
Matt: The race seems to be between JL Skinner and Jalen Moreno-Cropper. I think that David Perales’ stock will unfortunately be hurt by his ankle injury at the end of the season, and Jake Haener will probably be an early Day 3 selection, while I think at least one MWC player sneaks into Day 2. Safeties always seem to be at a premium, so I’ll give the nod to Skinner over Moreno-Cropper, but I wouldn’t be overly surprised to see that order switch.
Jeremy: This is a difficult question considering there is no blue chip, surefire first-round pick for the Mountain West this year. As a frequent viewer of mock drafts, Boise State’s JL Skinner seems to appear consistently somewhere between rounds 2-4. I’d answer Daiyan Henley, but he’s going to be listed as a Washington State Cougar for this draft. I’ll throw out Viliami Fehoko and Jake Haener as possibilities, but Skinner appears to be a strong favorite to hear his name called on Friday night.
Jeremiah: The Mountain West Conference should expect a couple of solid players to be drafted in this year’s second and third rounds. Of particular interest should be JL Skinner and Jake Haener. While accurate and intelligent, Haener lacks the athletic abilities that many teams will be searching for and, as such, will most likely choose JL Skinner, a solid safety who can come in and compete for a starting job right away. With the need for an immediate difference-maker, it is likely Skinner will land late in the second or early in the third round.
Adam: I like the idea of Jake Haener to be called first. The NFL is a quarterback-driven league now, but everyone still wants to find that diamond in the rough, that player that no one even thought of. Haener might be lacking the abilities some teams are looking for, but I think someone will take a shot on him to mold him into the prototypical quarterback that they need at that position. For that reason, I lean toward Haener over Skinner.