clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Peak Perspective: 2023 Mountain West NFL Draft Winners and Losers

Reviewing the draft was this past weekend.

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Practice Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Reviewing this past weekend’s NFL draft, here’s a short piece categorizing Mountain West-related things into winners and losers. This clearly isn’t an exhaustive list but are some of the trends and observations from the draft.


Jake Haener

Haener capped up his exceptional college career by being the first Mountain West player taken in this year’s draft. Going in the fourth round is a pretty good spot for a QB that isn’t being looked at as a future cornerstone starter. While another former Fresno State quarterback, Derek Carr, will be the starter, it’s no guarantee that he be successful, given how his past year ended. Haener may be able to become the backup, or else he will be stashed on the practice squad to be groomed as the eventual backup. He’s in a good spot.

Boise State

The Broncos get a spot in this category for being the only Mountain West school to have multiple (two) players drafted in this year’s NFL draft. In many ways, it is still a disappointment for the team, with as many as four players having a legitimate shot at being drafted. However, a team deserves credit for having 40% of the conference’s draftees, no matter what the total number turns out to be.

Scott Matlock

One of those two players for Boise State was defensive tackle, Scott Matlock. He was not on many draft radars when the season ended over the winter, but he fought and clawed his way up the draft boards thanks to a strong showing on the all-star bowl circuit (he earned a second one after dominating in the first one) as well as his pro day. Matlock has the talent to succeed and now has an opportunity for the LA Chargers.

New Mexico/Jerrick Reed II

Perhaps the most surprising draft pick, or at least the most under-the-radar pick, was safety Jerrick Reed II out of New Mexico. He will be going to Seattle, which has a great track record of developing defensive backs. Not only is it a deserving honor for Reed II, who was a very good player on some very not good teams, but it’s a big deal for the team. Reed II is the Lobo’s first draft pick since P Jason Sanders in 2018 and the highest draft pick since DB Glover Quin in 2009.


The Mountain West

The five selections were the conference’s lowest output since 2021 (3 players drafted), which followed the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. But one would have to go back all the way to 2013 to find a comparable number with seven players drafted. In fact, outside of the 2021 draft following the covid season, the conference has never had a small number of draftees than it did year.

JL Skinner

Many saw JL Skinner as the biggest NFL prospect in the Mountain West in this draft. Earlier mock drafts had him going in round two or three, especially after a great showing at the Senior Bowl. However, he dropped all the way to the sixth round, which was a disappointment. Much of the drop is due to his injury, which prevented him from competing in the NFL Combine and Boise State’s pro day. Although Skinner is a great bet to exceed his draft position during his NFL career, going on Day 3 is a letdown.

Jalen Moreno-Cropper

Speaking of letdowns, Jalen Moreno-Cropper went undrafted. This one is quite surprising, given how well he did in opportunities over the past few months. He was one of the standouts during his all-star bowl, and he had a pretty good showing during the NFL Combine. The knock on him was his size, but given he was projected as a slot receiver, it didn’t matter too much. Moreno-Cropper signed with the Dallas Cowboys and hopefully can prove teams wrong by making the roster, but not being drafted is a loss for sure.

San Diego State

The Aztecs had a disappointing 2022 season despite having a roster full of talent, especially on defense. They had quite a few intriguing players who seemed like they would translate to the NFL. However, the draft came and went without a single San Diego State player hearing their name called. SDSU does have a high number of undrafted free agents this year, but for a team with so much talent, this was a low point.

Your turn: What did we get right and wrong? What winners and losers would you add to this list? Comment below.