2011 NFL Draft: MAC Players Taken, And 10 Best Available UFAs

In 1996, the Green Bay Packers took defensive tackle Keith McKenzie from Ball State with the 252nd pick overall — third from last. For where he was selected, he had a pretty solid NFL career, including a Super Bowl with the Packers. But I bring this up because he was the only Mid-American Conference player taken that year. It was also the last time the MAC had fewer than four players taken in a single draft.

This year, just three MAC players were selected by teams:

1 (30) — Temple DT Muhammad Wilkerson to the New York Jets
2 (54) — Temple S Jaiquawn Jarrett to the Philadelphia Eagles
5 (143) — Buffalo CB Josh Thomas to The Dallas Cowboys

And, yes, TWO of them were from Temple, leaving Thomas as the lone gunman in the set of 12 full-member teams. This is uncanny. But don't fret, because undrafted free agent signings are our specialty. In fact, I've keyed in on ten MAC players that'll likely get signed as a UFA, whenever that window opens (thank you very much, price of business):

Buffalo running back Brandon Thermilus — I'm taking a flier on him thinking he'll be ready, but this accomplished back was lost for much of his senior year, which is a bummer. If he can come back from that ACL tear, he may back into a team not unlike former teammate James Starks did with the Packers. (If it helps, Thermilus's father is a scout with the Packers.) He's a large boy, and I've also seen him rated as a fullback, so he could play either.

Buffalo strong safety Davonte Shannon — Thomas had the talent, but Shannon had the credentials. He's the fourth-ever four-time First Team All-MAC player in history, and two others from the last 15 years include punter Dave Zastudil and safety Barry Church, both in the pros. (Brian McClure, where are you?)

Central Michigan linebacker Nick Bellore — He'll get a team, without a doubt. He posted some great combine numbers, including the top 20-yard shuttle time (4 seconds) and a 36 on the Wonderlic test, best of any defensive player. He has limitations but somebody's going to snap him up and be happy they did.

Central Michigan cornerback Vince Agnew — No dice for Bellore's former teammate playing behind him, who was grazing the end of some mock drafts. What we remember from the last five years was a very fun offense, but underrated in its period of greatness was a promising, fundamentally-deft defense. Bellore and Agnew are proof of this.

Kent State safety Brian Lainhart — He's not speedy but he grabbed 17 career interceptions, most of anyone from FBS in his class. Someone will see that, even though Lainhart's best season numbers-wise was his junior year.

Kent State inside linebacker Cobrani Mixon — When the Golden Flashes finished their year 5-7, it didn't help their talented defensive leaders' chances to impress scouts. The proof by Lainhart not being taken and by Mixon, an ex-Michigan player, hardly being sniffed. He can do a bit of everything and may round out some depth on an NFL chart.

Northern Illinois running back Chad Spann — What, have scouts never heard of Michael Turner or Garrett Wolfe? When an NIU back declares, you take him at some point. His senior year he averaged 5.38 yards per carry and just destroyed defenses everywhere. He's really a hybrid of both Turner and Wolfe, and these days teams continue to extend their depth chart of running backs.

OHIO defensive back Julian Posey — There hasn't been a lot of discussion on him, but cornerbacks are so popular these days (it was the most frequent selection in the '11 Draft) and Posey has the speed to keep up with a No. 2 or slot receiver.

Temple defensive tackle Elijah "Peanut" Joseph — Nobody likes drafting an injured player. If he was fully healthy, you might've seen him in a later round. But if he gets healthy, a team pining for depth on the defensive line or on special teams will take a chance on this powerful Peanut.

Toledo center Kevin Kowalski — This year's Draft took 19 tackles, 16 guards, and five centers. It's just not a position of need, but Kowalski has been an anchor of the Rockets offensive line for four years. He's got size and athleticism and I'll even give you a specific team: the Bengals are already considering Kevin Kowalski, per the Dayton Daily News.

That's not to say zero players will be signed by Akron, Ball State, BGSU, EMU, and WMU. But it's not looking rosy either.

As we saw with the Super Bowl alumnus breakdown, MAC players have had a bevy of success (or at the very least, attendance) at the pro-level. Understandably, when a team is given two equal players, they'll take the one from the bigger conference, just because the competition is stronger. So we've seen that these kids can play, and whenever the allowance to sign UFAs presents itself, the floodgates will open with free agent hopefuls making teams. And a few of them will.

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Hustle Belt

You must be a member of Hustle Belt to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Hustle Belt. You should read them.

Join Hustle Belt

You must be a member of Hustle Belt to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Hustle Belt. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.