NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
We roll on with our conference previews and this week we breakdown the Mountain West Conference. This past year was terrific for the conference prospect wise, Boise State graduated some of the top prospects in the draft, including first round pick Doug Martin. With so many prospects graduating in 2012, what does the upcoming draft class look like?
Continue reading to find out who the top Senior prospects are in the Mountain West Conference.
Alex Means, OLB – The Air Force Academy isn’t known for producing NFL players and this year will be no different. There isn’t a draftable talent on the Senior roster. The player who has the best chance is the 6’5″ 230 lbs. Means who led the school in sacks and TFL from his OLB position.
DJ Harper, RB – Harper, who split time with first round pick Doug Martin, is Boise’s top prospect this year. Harper will be entering his 6th year at Boise State, after suffering two season ending knee injuries, one in 2009 and the other in 2010. Harper has NFL speed and will put up big numbers as the feature back in Boise this year.
James Skelton, LB – The Senior prospect pool is as thin as ever in Fort Collins, especially after DE CJ James decided to transfer for his final season. That makes MLB James Skelton the top prospect by default. Skelton became a starter for the first time in 2011 and finished 3rd in the conference in tackles per game.
Travis Brown, OLB – Fresno State has built a pretty good reputation for producing DE/OLB types and this year their top prospect is Travis Brown. Brown put up an impressive stat line as a junior – 85 tackles, 8.5 TFL and 3.0 sacks. With Fresno moving to the MWC, Brown is one of the early favorites for defensive player of the year. While Brown is a little undersized to play an every down roll in the NFL, he will get the attention of scouts with a big season.
Robbie Rouse, RB – Rouse is the other top prospect from Fresno this year. Rouse is undersized (5’7″ 185) and is not lightning quick, but all he does is produce. Rouse rushed for 1549 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior and added another 228 through receptions. Rouse is poised to put up huge numbers in the MWC this season and could even lead the nation in total yards. Rouse will undoubtedly get a look from the NFL, but doesn’t have the frame to be an every down back in the NFL.
Haku Correa, DT – Correa missed basically all of 2011 season, but remains the top Senior prospect on the Rainbow Warriors roster. Correa is one of the few Senior players that has both NFL size (6’2″ 305) and strength. Correa flashed real potential as a Sophomore by recording 45 tackles from his DT position. How Correa bounces back from missing last year will determine if he has a shot at playing at the next level or not.
Jeff Nady, OT – Nady is one of the top two or three prospects in the entire conference. He possesses an NFL frame (6’7″ 290), long arms and the athleticism it takes to stick at OT in the NFL. Nady’s combination of toughness and quickness make him a factor in both the run and passing attack. As of right now Nady is a mid round prospect, but can move up the board if he adds strength and bulk to his frame.
Duke Williams, FS – Williams is the best defensive prospect left over from a very good Wolfpack defense. Williams has prototypical size (6’1 190) for an NFL free safety and above average speed. Williams took over as a starter last year and impressed all the way through with his range in the passing game and ability to come up and make tackles in run support. Williams finished his junior season with 83 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1 INT and 7 pass breakups. He is a pre-season All-MWC selection and a legitimate NFL prospect.
Lamaar Thomas, WR/KR – New Mexico is one of the worst football programs in the country so, it’s no surprise that their top prospect is a player who started his career at Ohio State. When projecting Lamaar Thomas it’s all about potential. He has NFL speed and has shown flashes of game breaking ability over time, but needs to stay on the field. Thomas has lacked consistency, but if he can put it all together he can play at the next level. Thomas only played four games last year due to injuries and he must play a full slate of games this year to impress scouts. At the very least, Thomas will get a look from the NFL as a Kick Returner thanks to his track speed.
San Diego State
Leon McFadden, CB – McFadden is the best returning CB to the MWC conference. He led the Mountain West in passes defensed as a Junior with 15 and added 2 interceptions. McFadden has exhibited good fluidity and the ability to get in and out of his breaks. McFadden is a Thorpe Award candidate and should be drafted in the mid-rounds of the 2013 draft.
Nik Embernate, OG – Embernate is a player who really stood out to me when I watched SDSU last year. He is a powerful and aggressive lineman who plays with a mean streak. He was flat out dominate at times last season. Embernate is one player who you may not know now, but you will when the draft rolls around.
Doug Zismann, OG – There is not much talent, especially senior talent on the UNLV roster. Zismann has to be considered the top Senior prospect by virtue that he has started for two seasons and has been recognized as an All-Conference lineman. Zismann is a former wrestler and an academic standout as well. Whether or not he has much NFL potential remains to be seen.
Luke Ruff, SS – Ruff is one of the most productive players in the conference tallying over 100 tackles as a junior and also contributing on special teams. Ruff is on the pre-season Lott Trophy watch list and is considered the leader of the Wyoming defense. While he doesn’t have the speed to excel in the NFL, he will get looks as a special teams standout and players like Ruff have a place in the NFL.