In the age of the transfer portal, the colleges listed at the NFL Draft don’t necessarily tell a player’s entire journey to the NFL. Many of the 2023 draft selections had several stops before hearing their name called in Kansas City this weekend.
The Mid-American Conference was credited with seven draft picks, but several other standouts with ties to the league were also selected:
Jayden Reed, WR
Selected by Green Bay Packers, Round 2, Pick 50
- Western Michigan (2018)
- Michigan State (2019-22)
Reed launched his college career in Kalamazoo where he instantly made a name for himself as one of the most dangerous receivers in the MAC. He finished the 2018 campaign as Western Michigan’s leader in receptions (56) and receiving yards (797), while operating alongside former second round pick D’Wayne Eskridge. Reed earned Freshman All-American honors, but his time in the MAC was short-lived. He transferred in-state to Michigan State for the 2019 season and became a 1,000-yard receiver with the Spartans in 2021. Special teams was also a calling card of Reed’s, and he ranked first in the FBS in punt return touchdowns in 2021 with multiple runbacks resulting in six.
Chad Ryland, K
Selected by New England Patriots, Round 4, Pick 112
- Eastern Michigan (2018-21)
- Maryland (2022)
The New England Patriots loaded up on Eastern Michigan prospects in the fourth round, drafting former Eagles kicker Chad Ryland alongside guard Sidy Sow. Ryland was a fan favorite at Eastern Michigan, earning legendary status with the program due to his game-winning kicks in Big Ten country. He drilled time-expiring field goals to beat Purdue in 2018 and Illinois in 2019. Ryland earned two All-MAC selections and finished as second in Eastern Michigan history in career field goals made — while hitting at an 85.7 percent clip over his final two years. He transferred to Maryland and sunk 19-of-23 field goals last fall, including 7-of-8 in the sweet spot from 40-49 yards.
Charlie Jones, WR
Selected by Cincinnati Bengals, Round 4, Pick 131
- Buffalo (2017-18)
- Iowa (2019-21)
- Purdue (2022)
Jones started his college career as the third option on a 2018 Buffalo Bulls squad which featured a dynamic receiving duo of Anthony Johnson and K.J. Osborn. He snagged three touchdown receptions in a 395-yard campaign with the Bulls, averaging 21.9 yards per reception. After one season of suiting for Buffalo, Jones tested the waters of the Big Ten. He didn’t contribute in significant fashion again until 2021, when ranking fourth on Iowa in receiving yards. He transferred one final time to Purdue for 2022, where his career took over in extraordinary fashion. Jones led the entire FBS with 110 receptions last season and ranked second in yardage (1,361) and tied for fifth in receiving touchdowns (12).