NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
This week we move on from the Big 10 draft prospects to Conference USA.
While C-USA is a non-BCS conference and doesn’t have the talent level of the major conferences they aren’t a stranger to producing top draft picks. Dontari Poe who was picked 11th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft played ball in C-USA. This year the conference has another big, strong Defensive lineman sure to garner plenty attention from the NFL this season.
Margus Hunt, DE
Hunt is an absolute physical “freak”. He possesses a frame and strength that hasn’t been seen before on a college football field. Standing 6’8″, Hunt came to America and SMU from Estonia to train for the Olympics in the Shot Put and Discus, two events which he has a legitimate shot of competing in the Olympics some day.
While at SMU he picked up football and naturally has been successful at it. While he is quite raw and is still mastering technique and some of the finer points of the game, he possesses limitless potential as a DE. If Hunt continues on his developmental curve and shows even more improvement this year, we are talking about a first round talent.
DJ Hayden, CB
Transferred to Houston from Navarro JC last fall and won Conference USA Newcomer of the year. Hayden made an immediate impact as the #1 CB on the team. Hayden broke up 11 passes, intercepted 2 and forced 5 fumbles. Hayden has an NFL frame and is someone who could really move up draft boards this fall
Jamie Collins, DE
Collins is an intriguing edge rushing prospect. He managed to record 6.5 sacks last season, which makes him the leading returning pass rusher (statistically) in the Conference. While Collins need to add some muscle to his frame, he is a tremendous athlete and can run like a defensive back.
Aaron Dobson, WR
The 6’3″ Dobson is coming of a season in which he piled up 12 receiving touchdowns. Dobson is the top WR prospect in C-USA and one of the best anywhere in the country.
Dobson is a big play waiting to happen, but does have questions that he needs to answer this year. His route running needs a lot of improvement and his draft status will depend a lot on how fast he times, because he definitely isn’t the fastest WR. If shows more development and runs a serviceable time he is a day two pick in April.
Dexter McCoil, FS
McCoil is one of my favorite prospects in the conference. The big bodied McCoil plays free safety right now but, at 6’4″ 222 pounds he may be destined for another position. His size hasn’t limited his ability as a pass defender as he tied for the conference lead in interceptions with six.
Theo Goins, OG
Goins is one of the best returning offensive lineman in the conference. Goins has NFL size 6’4″ 317 and shows the athleticism to pull and get to the next level. An honorable mention All-Conference performer last year, he is sure to build on those accolades as a senior.
Trent Mackey, ILB
Tulane isn’t exactly known as an NFL breeding ground so it’s tough finding legit NFL caliber prospects. Their top senior this year is MLB Trent Mackey who is coming off of a monster junior season. Mackey is undersized at 5’11” 227 lbs. but, he doesn’t let that stop him from making plays.
As a junior he compiled 145 tackles, 14.0 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 1 Int and he is poised to improve on those numbers this year. While Mackey might not get drafted he should warrant an UDFA contract somewhere.
Michael Brooks, DT/NT
Brooks is a legitimate NFL nose tackle prospect. He has an NFL body and NFL strength. Brooks started all 12 games last season at NT and put up some very impressive numbers for the position, including 55 tackles. Brooks is one of the leaders on defense and an extremely hard worker in the weight room.
Luke Wilson, TE
Vance McDonald may get more of the attention and more targets at Rice, but Wilson is the better NFL prospect. Wilson is a well rounded TE and a very good athlete. At 6’5″ 250 pounds he has the size NFL scouts look for. Wilson is also a very good baseball player and is in the Toronto Blue Jays minor league system.
Marcus Rucker, WR
Rucker is a tall and lanky WR prospect who had a very good Sophomore season (41-704-8), but struggled last season as he battled various injuries. When healthy Rucker is one of the biggest match up problems in the conference. If he can revert back to the numbers he put up as a Sophomore he should get the NFL’s attention.
Chris Hubbard, OT
The best Senior prospect on UAB this year in my opinion is OT Chris Hubbard. He has started the past two seasons at RT opposite of last year’s promising NFL prospect Matt McCants. While Hubbard has the athleticism to play OT, he is only 6’4″, so it seems inevitable that he will eventually have to play OG.
The pickings are slim for Senior prospects on UTEP’s roster. The top two prospects are WR Mike Edwards and OC Eloy Atkinson. While it is a long shot either gets draft consideration they could garner some UDFA looks. Also, keep an eye on FS Deshawn Grayson who could turn some heads this season.