The 2017 NFL Draft was a frustrating time for the MWC after so many years of G5 dominance. For the first time in recent years, no one from the conference heard his name called on either of the first two nights.
It seems like every player that was drafted had some flaw that kept teams from pulling the trigger. From pass blocking ability to injury prone to flat out size issues, so many talented MWC players waited too long for that life changing phone call.
In the end, he MWC added to the overall total of draft selections with seven players joining NFL rosters on Saturday. Three running backs, a couple of offensive linemen and some defensive stars playing up to their potential could turn this group into one of the most underrated MWC draft classes in history.
- Brian Hill, RB, Wyoming, Round 5 (156) Falcons: Considering the production he had at the college level and his projection as a pro, Hill is a bargain as a fifth round pick. He is a violent runner that is unlike either of the top two running backs on the roster. Hill is already the best pass blocker, something that was desperately needed in the second half of last season’s Super Bowl loss to New England. This is a move for the current and future as Tevin Coleman will be a free agent after the 2017 season and having Hill on the roster will allow them to let him walk rather than spend a lot of money on the back.
- Damontae Kazee, CB/S, San Diego State, Round 5 (149) Falcons: A cornerback to nearly every other NFL team, Kazee projects to play safety for the Falcons. He is a true ball hawk that seems to come down with nearly every interception opportunity he is given. It may take a while for Kazee to get on the field regularly, but he has the potential to play multiple years as a very good safety. Expect to see Kazee participate in nearly every possible special teams unit this season as he learns to play safety at the NFL level.
- Devante Mays, RB, Utah State, Round 7 (238) Packers: This was a pick of luxury for the Packers. Mays was productive at Utah State, but steps into a camp that includes Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones in addition to returning starter Ty Montgomery. It is possible that all four running backs make the roster, but it seems more likely that one of the three drafted backs will end up on the practice squad. If Mays can prove to be an asset on special teams, he could make the opening day roster.
- Jeremy McNichols, RB, Boise State, Round 5 (162) Buccaneers: Last season was one of the worst seasons in recent history for the Bucs. Combined, Doug Martin and Jaquizz Rodgers didn’t hit 1,000 yards albeit Martin did face injury issues. McNichols is already the second best running back on the roster and could make Rodgers and some of the others backs on the roster expendable. McNichols’ only question is whether he can physically handle being a #1 back in the long term.
- Donnel Pumphrey, RB , San Diego State, Round 4 (132) Eagles: A record setter at the college level, Pumphrey is one of those players that needs to be in the right situation. He lucked out in going #132 to the Eagles where he can take some carries and catches from Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles as he learns the offense. Pumphrey likely cannot be a #1 back, but he could easily take the mantle of Sproles and become one of the best third down backs in the NFL.
- Chase Roullier, C/G, Wyoming, Round 6 (199) Redskins: Roullier is another MWC player that found a good home in the NFL. He is a versatile lineman that can play center, guard, or even tackle if needed at a decent level. His future is in the middle and Roullier could be a backup at all three inside positions this season. He was a much needed addition to the roster and one of the rare sixth round picks that looks like an early lock for the roster.
Siragusa, Nico OG 6’4″ 319 San Diego St. Pick 16, Round 4 (122) Ravens: Last season was one to forget in the run game for the Ravens. They struggled despite having solid talent in the backfield. With Siragusa joining the team via the draft, the middle of the line looks much more secure. Siragusa is a physical and punishing run blocker that still needs some work in the pass game. With most of the offensive line either extremely young of starting to see the twilight of their careers, it would surprise me if Siragusa wasn’t starting be season’s end.
- Tanner Vallejo, LB, Boise State, Round 6 (195) Bills: The Bills went linebacker heavy with this year’s college crop. In addition to Vallejo, they brought in four other linebackers to compete for roster spots and playing time. Vallejo has shown signs of being able to start at the NFL level, but he is smaller than ideal and has injury concerns. If he can find his form of his sophomore season at Boise State, then the Bills got a steal.