The 2013 NFL Draft began with a MAC player being selected (Eric Fisher of CMU) first overall and then saw six more picked in the rounds to follow. And while a No. 1 pick is unlikely, it seems that the MAC will indeed have yet another player drafted in the first round. We here believe that the more MAC players a team has, the better, but, sadly, it's doubtful that there will be more than a handful selected.
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There are complex formulas and hours painstakingly entered in creating the perfect Mock Draft. We don't have the patience or math skills to do that, so we'll leave it up to the experts. Using what ESPN, CBS Sports, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation's own draft-centric site - Mocking the Draft - here's a brief look from the top Mock Drafters at who should, and could, end up on stage this May from the biggest little conference in college football.
Khalil Mack, OLB (Buffalo): The 6-3 linebacker is one of the premier players in the conference, and nation, this year and one of just two players from the MAC that is predicted to be drafted earlier than round 5. Practically everyone has Mack in their Top-10, and for good reason. He's quick, durable, and powerful. Mocking the Draft and ESPN agree, he is the fourth best player in this year's class. ESPN also went on and rated him a 95 (out of 100!). Bleacher Report says he'll go to Minnesota with the eighth pick and CBS has him going as high as sixth, to Atlanta.
Jimmie Ward, Safety (Northern Illinois): At 5-10, Ward may be a little small for the typical NFL safety. But Ward is not typical. The nation began to notice Ward after his stellar Senior Bowl performance, but those in DeKalb have known him for years. While Ward wont be a first round pick, most agree he is a second or third round choice. Mocking the Draft has him as the third best safety and the 45th overall pick, a mid-second rounder. ESPN (who gave Ward a rating of 82) and CBS also have him around the 50 mark, while Bleacher Report lists him as a third round pick to Kansas City.
Dri Archer, WR/HB (Kent State): While he was primarily a running back at KSU, quite a few teams might switch the 5-8 speedster to a receiver. ESPN has Archer as the 10th best running back and 139th overall, with a 58 rating. Mocking the Draft agrees, saying he's the 163rd best player this year. But CBS and Bleacher Report both have Archer listed as a receiver and drafted much later, if at all.
Rob Blanchflower, TE (UMass): The 6-4 Minuteman has been climbing the draft boards as of late. CBS says, as the 10th best tight end, he should be a sixth round pick. Bleacher Report says he's the 217 best player, and a seventh round selection. But ESPN and Mocking the Draft have him undrafted, and listed as the 15 and 16th best TE, respectively.
Kieth Wenning, QB (Ball State): Wenning was lost in the conversation for most of the year with the spotlight solely being focused on Jordan Lynch, but there is no doubt that Wenning was the best true quarterback in the MAC. He probably wont go in the first five rounds but a late choice is definitely plausible. Most feel he is the 16th best QB in the draft and will have a hard time earning a spot on the first two days. Bleacher Report and CBS have Wenning going in the 7th round.
Zac Kerin, C (Toledo): Bleacher Report and CBS are high on Kerin's chances to find a team this year. Both have him as a seventh rounder and one of the top-10 centers on the board. Mocking the Draft has him as the No. 9 center, while ESPN isn't convinced and has him undrafted and the 14th best center.
David Fluellen, RB (Toledo): Another Rocket that people disagree on is the big 5-11, 226 pound back. While he was great in college, some don't think that will equate to success in the big leagues. Mocking the Draft believes him to be the 180th best pick, which would be a late fifth round pick. CBS has him as a seventh rounder at best and ESPN and Bleacher Report have him undrafted.
Jonathan Newsome, DE (Ball State): Newsome has been great for the Cardinals the last few years and now he could get a late pick come May. CBS says he should get a contract, either in the seventh round or as a free agent. Bleacher Report lists him as the 265th best player, a late seventh round choice. Mocking the Draft has him as the 25th best DE and possible late choice.
Ken Bishop, DT (Northern Illinois): Another defensive player from the Huskies that might find a spot late in the draft is big Kenny Bishop. The 300 pound lineman has played well the last few season and has been rewarded as of late as CBS says he could be a seventh round choice.
Roosevelt Nix, DT/ILB (Kent State): Mocking the Draft has Nix as the 20th best defensive tackle and possible late round choice. CBS ranks him the 25th best inside linebacker and ESPN has him at 28th.
Other Names to Keep an Eye On:
These players will most likely not be drafted but are still worth keeping an eye on.
- Alex Bayer, TE (Bowling Green)
- Jayrone Elliot, DE (Toledo)
- BooBoo Gates, CB (Bowling Green)
- Bernard Reedy, WR (Toledo)
- Willie Snead, WR (Ball State)
- Travis Carrie, CB (Ohio)
Jordan Lynch, QB (Northern Illinois): There's no question Lynch was the most talked about player from the MAC this year. He was third in the Heisman voting in December and his stats were outstanding the last two seasons. But Mocking the Draft has him as the 19th best QB, ESPN has Lynch at 20th, and CBS thinks he's the 25th best. No one thinks he'll be drafted...at least as a QB. Lynch has already said that a position change wouldn't bother him at all. So whether Lynch plays QB, or safety, or fullback, or special teams it would be hard to believe that no team would take a chance on him.
We still have a long way to go before the Draft begins on May 8th, including Pro Days and the NFL Combine (taking place between Feb. 22-25, where 10 MAC athletes will appear). And a lot can happen between now and then but getting to last year's number of seven MAC draftees seems rather unlikely at this point.