To completely wrap up the MAC Crootin' Draft, we are going to leave you with our final thoughts on everything. 195 prospected players that will be with the MAC this year had been selected by each of our team representatives. This ended up being a ton of fun for us to do, and we hope this was a fun series for all of you to keep up with as well!
Eastern Michigan Eagles
Since we drafted in order by the year-end standings from worst to champions, I had the pleasure of having the first overall pick. Only a two-win team last year that's probably going to have around the same results this season in a really good MAC West, I wanted to make sure I went after the ceiling of a prospect instead of focusing on what these draftees could do with playing time right away. There were plenty of instances where I'd see a high ceiling and thought he'd be able to play right away at EMU, which was a factor in some of my choices.
Take Justin Tranquill for starters. My first overall pick better be a bona fide 4-year starter. It was either him or Kendrell McFadden, but I really wanted the cornerback. I figured I'd just wait and get a safety later and feel good about it. I'd later pick Jeremiah Dadeboe in the ninth round to readdress my secondary need. Jason Beck had a promising true freshman year last year, so I just need one more. Dadeboe could use the first year off, but if I'm assuming that EMU won't get to Detroit this year, I'd opt to redshirt him. Cassius Grady was a name I watched out for to grab in the later rounds, so I'm lucky to have gotten him in the 13th round. Samuel Beal was my very last pick for a third corner. He's got good height, could play receiver if things don't pan out for him on defense. But he's 6-foot-2 with a reach that I could really use on secondary.
Offensive line was a big deal to me, no pun intended. Ruben Carter from Florida State was the first one I grabbed. Obvious need, plug him in. Michael Yerardi could play right away as a tackle, but I like the ceiling on him, Bryce Gibbs and Derek Dumais. Teams like UMass, Miami and Toledo had good offensive linemen in their signing classes. EMU could've used one or two more. I like to buy things in bulk.
This is Dustin Creel's senior year and now that there's finally some consistency in the program, maybe it'll work out to his benefit. Kevin Davis transferred to EMU last year and already sat out his one year, so he'll provide more explosiveness to the receiving corps this year. But he's not very tall, and I could use more weapons on offense, so my second overall pick was a really easy choice. Darrion Landry is a stellar receiver from Blinn College in Texas and if you give Reggie Bell just an extra second every once in a while, I'd like to think that these two would be best buds. He's a 6-foot-2 receiver that is just way too fun to watch. Cedric Asseh was another receiver of the same height that fell in my lap in the 14th round.
The only other skilled offensive player that I took was Alex Grace. He's listed as an athlete, can play either running back or linebacker. EMU's had a really good problem of having too many running backs and that's a tradition that I'd like to keep going. I missed out on getting Breck Turner and I knew Grace would be a formidable option.
Let's switch back to defense though. Nick Dillon shouldn't have fell to the 3rd round, but he did. Him, and Nathan Childress are the two defensive linemen that I took in the draft. Childress may or may not have been the steal of the whole stinking draft. Abdallah Jaffal is a good in-state linebacker prospect and couldn't let him slip. Same story with Michael Oliver.
I wasn't really aiming to completely turn everything around in 2015, but I like the offense that I made with Landry and Carter. The consistency in the program will show throughout the season and adding these players would at least better their chances to win more games this year while still building for the future. I didn't get a quarterback because Reggie Bell is still really young and I figure that I'd just wait until next year. Probably a really terrible maneuver in hindsight, but it's a risk worth taking. Though I'd take EMU's actual signing class -Alex Alvarado
CB- Justin Tranquill (WMU signee). Fort Wayne, IN (Carroll HS). 247Sports: 87 (0.8705)
DT- Nick Dillon (EMU signee). Linconshire, IL (Adlai Stevenson). 247Sports: 82 (0.8215)
Kent State Golden Flashes
|Jeff Hill Jr
Overall, my strategy for the draft was to build towards the future. Kent State isn't one or two impact players away from being at the top of the MAC so I tried to avoid any graduate transfers as they would just be a bandage of some sorts to some of our issues. My strategy was tested as early as the first round when I could have drafted Notre Dame transfer S Eliar Hardy. Instead, I elected to draft S Kendrell McFadden who is coming out of high school with four years of eligibility. However, if I were drafting as a school who is "all-in" on this season, I would have given Hardy much more serious consideration. If there's one player that I may have reached for it was WR Antwan Dixon. My original plan was to choose a quarterback in the second round, specifically Tyree Jackson however with him off the board I moved my attention to either Darrion Landry or Dixon. EMU made my decision easy as they selected Landry right before we were on the clock in round 2. I love Dixon's style of play and think he will be a great fit at Kent State, however I worry that I may be overvaluing him a little bit with the second pick in the second round with players like LB Chris Green(despite a torn ACL), OL Wesley French, DT Nick Dillon, and DB Armani McNulty still on the board at the time.
In the middle rounds I continued stockpiling talent in various areas. LB London Cloud and WR Steven Lee are great values in the 5th and 6th rounds respectively. Lee and Dixon give us weapons to work with on the offensive side of the ball. After seeing all the QB's I was high on go rather early, it would have been easy to panic and reach for a QB. However, I stayed patient and got great value in getting big armed Mylik Mitchell. In a few years, Mitchell could be the man under center for the Golden Flashes. Despite all this offensive fire power, the pick that I'm most excited about is actually a defensive player, DB Jeff Hill Jr. As I mentioned when I drafted Hill, he's extremely underrated in my opinion and is a guy who would have had P5 schools all over him if he we just a few inches taller. In the last few rounds, I just tried to round out the class with high ceiling guys who would be classified as low-risk, high-reward. Myles Washington, Tyler Mabry, and Montel Jordan all fit that classification nicely.
In comparison, I actually wound up with quite a few of Kent State's actual signees, three to be more specific. With that said, I would prefer my 15-man recruiting class as opposed to Kent State's real class. Despite an extremely strong class(in real life) for the Golden Flashes, I think that this 15-man class addresses some gaping holes on Kent State's roster. Although I think my fake class has a little more upside, the Golden Flashes recruited the running back position better than I did in this draft. Also, drafting just one linebacker is something that I regret even though London Cloud is extremely solid. The bottom line is this: In real life or in this draft, Kent State has put together a solid group of recruits who have the skills and potential to make an immediate impact in getting this program back on track. -Mike Karpinski
S- Kendrell McFadden (Miami signee). Hollywood, FL (Miramar HS). 247Sports: 85 (0.8914)
WR- Antwan Dixon (Kent St. signee). Fort Myers, FL (South Fort Myers HS). 247Sports: 80 (0.8074)
My strategy was to aim for depth, even if it meant giving up on some needs. Miami is a team that has a decent foundation, but just needs help in the ranks in order to sustain their success. I aimed for need position first, such as defensive back and receiver. After I filled my needs (DB, QB, OL,) I looked for athletes that displayed versatility and intelligence in high school, since that usually translates fairly decently in the college game.
I did fairly well, I think. Once it got into the double digit rounds, I was scraping around, since I primarily did my research with the three-star prospects. With everything said and done, I grabbed at least one prospect from each position group except for quarterback, although if we really wanna get technical, I could convert one of my former HS QB's back to said position.
I regret not picking up Eilar Hardy, who was taken by UMass in the first round after my pick. I was hoping that Kendrell McFadden would somehow fall to third pick since CB was my priority position, but with him off the board, I panicked and chose the player that I believed had the most potential to grow at a need position, forgetting that Hardy was on the board. Although Hardy is a safety while McFadden is a corner, Hardy might very well be the best athlete on the board, and makes any team better.
I was very happy to get Pascal (Quinn) Calcagno in the fifth round, and Brody Hoying in the eleventh. Calcagno is a stud of a prospect at the defensive end despite his low rating at two stars. I believed that he was the steal of the Miami recruiting class and made it a priority to pick him up at a good round. Hoying is a three star prospect that has a wonderful work ethic and seems adaptable., There is plenty of untapped potential in him and with good cosching, Hoying could be a coverage safety to watch for.
Jameson Vest, without a question. There were still plenty of good prospects left, including at quarterback, running back, and defensive tackle that I probably should have invested a pick in instead. But I was trying to go for depth, and sometimes, you just have to play that game.
When making these picks, I put on my Coach Martin hat and tried to find players that displayed aggressive work ethic and toughness, because those are the types of prospects that will respond well to the intense rigors of Coach Martin's coaching style. Knowing that Miami is looking to run a balanced offense, I grabbed skill players that could help the depth of the current roster, and created a line that displayed a bully-esque attitude in order to protect the quarterback and advance the runner. The defense was very pass-oriented, so I could have done better on that end, but overall, I think good things could come from the roster I put together. -James Jimenez
WR- Kezio Snelling (EMU signee). Lutz, FL (Steinbrenner). 247Sports: 83 (0.8248)
OT- Lou Grigoletti (CMU signee). Riverside, IL (Riverside Brookfield). 247Sports: 78 (0.7861)
There you have it, your faux 2015 UMass Minutemen draft class. This is a solid group of high schoolers that I'm sure Whipple would love to have. That being sad there were defeinlty some things I should have done differently.
For one I might have gone too heavy on safety. My first pick of Eilar Hardy is somewhat controversial being that he only has one year and while being probably the best player skill wise, it puts a bind on your team's depth over the next few years. Then picking another safety in the fifth round was to make up for that lack of depth which hindered my ability to fill other needs. But it is tough to pass on a player who can make the impact Hardy can right off the bat.
Round four was another round that I wish I had back. Reche Thomas is one of the best guards in the draft and has the potential to be a very good guard. But this early you really want to take a tackle because that position is just more important than guard. You can always move a tackle to gurad but it is hard to make the transition the other way around. I also could have went DE here instead of waiting until round 7.
I think I got absolute steals in Andy Isabella and Maurice Thomas. Both guys have similar skill sets but UMass really has no player that plays like these guys so there is certainily room for both. Plus they both have great versality and Whipple could find a way to play them both at the same time.
Two other things of note. Waiting until round nine to take a kicker was probably an over site given the history of that position at UMass. Also I was one of the few teams to not take a QB in the draft. If you are not familiar UMass has switched two QBs to tightends becuase they had about eight on roster at one point so it really wasn't a position to target in a 15 round draft.
Overall I think I have a decent class, good not great. Chris Green is a guy I haven't talked about yet but is my favorite guy I picked. He's a great inside backer and he's a guy I can see being a three year starter and having a very high career tackle count. -Max Moore
LB- Chris Green (Toledo signee). Toledo, OH (Central Catholic). 247Sports: 84 (0.8550)
ATH- Andy Isabella (UMass signee). Cleveland, OH (Mayfield). 247Sports: 84 (0.8400)
|Jeff Christian Jr
While a 15-man class does not look too strong on paper, I think I have set up Akron very well to succeed in the next several years. Our strategy was to be able to get more playmakers, as well as players on the defensive side of the ball who can come in and make a difference right away. I was able to set up our secondary for a run of success as the young players gain experience, and I could not be more excited about adding a QB as talented as Jon Wassink is, or a DB as talented as Deontai Wiliams, who had other offers from Florida and UGA among several others.
On the offensive side of the ball, the past several years has been a struggle to get the ball down the field: Now I have gotten us playmakers to put all over the field such as Marquis Young and Bellamy. While it may have been unusual to take a kicker as high as I did, it was well needed. Special Teams kept us from being able to compete, and Zervos is going to come in and change that. I knew I needed to place a high priority on acquiring more talent in the backfield, and Marquis Young is going to be great in the backfield.
I had Kendrell McFadden at the top of my draft board, but unfortunately he was the number one pick for Can't State.I also placed a pretty high priority for D.J. Brown but Toledo scooped him up by the time I had gotten the rest of the board taken care of. This 15-man class may qualify as one of the best recruiting classes in the history of the Akron program, and I could not be more excited to see them hit the field and compete.
Watch out, MAC East. -Russ Johnson
S- Deontai Williams (Ohio signee). Jacksonville, FL (Trinity Christian Academy). 247Sports: 87 (0.8666)
RB- Marquis Young (UMass signee). Fairport, NY (Fairport Senior). 247Sports: 81 (0.8100)
Most UB fans feel UB was a better team than 5-6 last season. A lost game to a truck driver, listless offensive performances bracketing Jeff Quinn's dismissal in October, and no confidence in the kicker late in a well-played game against Bowling Green. The defense was awful until late in the season, but the offense was plenty strong enough to compensate.
That offense is returning 8 of 11 starters and should be a cornerstone for Buffalo this year - Joe Licata's senior year. With that in mind, I went looking in particular for players that could contribute immediately. I don't think I snapped up any big steals, but I did go out and get roughly the players I needed: new talent in the trenches and the defensive backfield and a half-dozen players who can step right in in 2015. Joe Alexander, Torey Hendrick, and Roubbens Joseph are all JUCO transfers who will play this season on the lines. I carry no shame in taking Morgan Hagee in the fourth round. He would also play this season were he coming to Buffalo.
Outside of instant contributors, I still heavily favored the trenches, where I added Kwanii Figueroa, Marcus Kelly, and Justin Brandon to the D-line and Ian Leever to the offensive side. UB's moving to a 4-3 defense and the team's biggest losses by position group were each line and the safeties, so I grabbed a bunch of guys. If in addition to the JUCOs one could make his way onto the two-deep as a freshman, that would be swell.
I missed out on the best safeties and cornerbacks in the group while I was making sure I got guys who can help right away, but I was able to snag two underrated additions to the backfield. Brandon Stanback is an explosive, hard-hitting athlete and Jamil Sabbagh is great at getting into the backfield. UB really is in good shape at most skill positions for immediate future at least, but I grabbed a trio of guys that can be dangerous with the ball in space in RB Emmanuel Reed, TE Matt Seybert, and WR/DB Dev Lamour.
The only pick I don't love upon looking back is Mitch Guadagni in the second round. I wanted Tyree Jackson in the first round but was worried about reaching for him, only for the QB to go three picks later. In the second I panicked a bit. UB sophomore-to-be QB Chris Merchant looked great in spring football as this draft was going on, and it doesn't look as desperate a need once Joe Licata graduates as I thought. In retrospect I would have been glad to grab a better defensive back or offensive lineman that high and snag one of the stronger running backs in the 5-7 range. Other than Jackson, though, I got nearly everyone I wanted. I probably could have grabbed Johnathan Hawkins before Ball State did and still gotten the same O-linemen later, but otherwise I had no issues.
I put together a class that should in the areas of biggest need immediately step into the lineup and help UB maintain its big offense from last season while providing a strong foundation for the future. The Bulls' depth and underclass contributors at many of the skill positions means they can wait a year, short of low-priority bodies. -Matt Gritzmacher
DE- Marcus Kelly (NIU signee). Waukesha, WI (West). 247Sports: 78 (0.8081)
RB- Emmanuel Reed (Buffalo signee). Crestview, FL (Sebastian River). 247Sports: 76 (0.7633)
Ball State Cardinals
The Cardinals do it again.
2015 MAC Crootin' Draft
Let's play Make Believe! Pretend the players from the MAC signing classes are actually in a pool to be virtually drafted by our 13 teams to build for their futures. Round by round, day by day, we'll give you the results of who we've taken
Balance was the name of the game for this draft, with eight players chosen on the offensive side of the ball, seven on the defensive side. With that said, 6 of the top 10 Ball State selections were defensive players. The logic exercised here is that the wily genius Pete Lembo, along with his offensive coordinator Joey Lynch, can turn water into wine when it comes to scoring points. Therefore we wanted to make the early focus defense.
The attention that Juantez McCrae has received from big time football powerhouses is undeniable. MAC games can turn into shootouts. We're under no illusions that Ball State is going to all of the sudden turn into a defensive leader in the MAC. But the speed of McCrae, along with our number three pick, Shemar Moss at defensive end, could be to the difference on weeknights when games become "first to 50."
You've heard it before, "you can't teach size." This makes 6'5" 300 pound offensively lineman an easy pick at number two. Similarly, RIley Neal, a 6'5" quarterback from Yorktown, with Ball State ties, was a no-brainer, as we did not want to wait too late to snatch up a signal caller.
The player we were especially excited to get a shot at late in the draft was our number nine pick, Mike Danna, defensive end. Simply put, this is a tough, tough dude. Injury concerns may have driven other teams away from selecting Danna, but his commitment to return from that injury, and that havoc he can create in the backfield makes him an easy guy to select. The 3.4 GPA doesn't hurt either.
We're pleased with our draft. As far as anything we could have done differently, we probably didn't need to go wide receiver (Cameron Lewis, 6th pick) as early as we did. This should speak less to Lewis however, and more to the fact that Lembo can do more with less. It would be foolish of us to suggest that our draft is better than the work that Coach Lembo does, though it's worth noting that our interest in Riley Neal has a lot to do with his interest in Riley Neal. Additionally, we probably could have grabbed another offensive lineman. In any event these players absolutely have the talent to compete in a crowded MAC West. -Keith Scheessele
S- Juantez McRae (Kent St. signee). Baltimore, MD (Franklin HS). 247Sports: 86 (0.8570)
QB- Riley Neal (Ball State signee). Yorktown, IN (Yorktown). 247Sports: 85 (0.8337)
First, let me say how glad I am that A) this isn't how recruiting actually works and, B) that if this were how it worked that I wouldn't be making the decisions.
Targeting guys that fit when in a draft setup is impossible. No wonder dynasties are easier to maintain in college football than in the NFL.
My strategy for Ohio was to fill some obvious holes and to massively upgrade the talent level at positions where I felt Ohio has been too reliant on system style players. At QB, I believe I achieved this. James Morgan and Connor K (Alex, please put his real name here) are dynamite players who instantly give the Bobcats a talent upgrade. Morgan could compete for the starting job right away.
But, I also failed to improve the secondary as well as Ohio's actually did with its 2015 recruiting class. Getting Armani Mcnaulty (again, please correct names for me) was a great perk of this draft, but was it really worth it at the expense of players such as Jeff Christian Jr. and Mayne Williams? I don't think so.
Same goes with defensive line. I banked on the idea that most people in this draft wouldn't really know too much about these players, but seeing Nate Trawick go as high as he did (when I was hoping to snag him as a steal in the sixth or seventh round) proved that idea was wrong.
I feel like while it's great to add a player of the caliber of Morgan to Ohio's roster, my draft class couldn't hold a candle to Frank Solich's recruiting class. I guess I should stop complaining about his recruiting strategies so much, shouldn't I? -Sam Smucker
QB- James Morgan (BGSU signee). Green Bay, WI (Ashwaubenon HS). 247Sports: 92 (0.8741)
CB- Armani McNulty (Ball St. signee). Bolingbrook, IL (Bolingbrook). 247Sports: 78 (0.8028)
Central Michigan Chippewas
My strategy during this draft involved two priorities. The first priority was to find guys who could see playing time tomorrow - CMU has a lot of immediate needs with the talent they graduated this past year and the change in systems brought in by the new coaching regime. The second priority was to find guys who will eventually start at key positions like quarterback - this priority was the reason I went with Billy Bahl in the first round. You can get by with some weak areas, but without strong play at quarterback, you're likely not going to succeed.
My biggest difficulty when considering who to take was that we don't know exactly what CMU is going to look like in the fall schematically. For instance, Bono has talked a lot about going up tempo, yet the offensive system that we saw at the spring game looked much more similar to what Dan Enos ran last fall, albeit a bit faster. It's hard to find players to fit a system that you don't know, and perhaps it's indicative of how the players Enos recruited perform on this new CMU team.
In terms of the actual picks, I'm really happy to have gotten Bahl in the first round - if Chuck Martin sticks around Miami long enough, Bahl is going to put up some monster numbers for the Redhawks. Other players I really like are Obbie Jackson, Nick Faulkner, and Jamari Bozeman, the latter of whom somehow fell to the last round. I'm not entirely sure the class I drafted would be better than the actual one that starts at CMU this fall, but I think my class ended up with more higher end prospects.
The real takeaway I got from this draft was the potential for incredible parity among all of these classes, despite whatever the ratings or stars say. I place a higher premium now more than ever on player development; it's how a guy like Eric Fisher can go from being an overlooked prospect to the number one overall pick in the NFL draft within a few years. It's going to be very interesting to see which of these guys pan out and which end up as filler on the depth chart. -Max Lowe
QB- Billy Bahl (Miami signee). Woodstock, IL (Marian Central Catholic HS). 247Sports: 84 (0.8470)
RB- Breck Turner (EMU signee). Norwalk, OH (Norwalk). 247Sports: 85 (0.8299)
Western Michigan Broncos
I had fun picking for WMU. I really did. They're in a fun place right now. In 2016, they'll still be extremely talented on offense. In 2016, they'll have a pretty good defense. I'm trying to think of what WMU could just absolutely dominate in and went with it.
Didn't realize it until later, but I figured out that I wanted to absolutely own the line of scrimmage on defense. Everybody's taken some quality offensive linemen, and I wanted to be the equalizer. Sam McKnight was a fun find in the fifth round, and Nick Potts was a defensive end that I was eyeing for a long time and I grabbed him in the seventh round. I think Brian Arp is a going to be awesome for the Bobcats, but he was a bargain pick in the 12th. Somehow I ended my Draft class with Marshall Robinson, who weighs 330 pounds and thought that would be a good little cherry on top.
Secondary was a need, but I only grabbed Antonyo Sotolongo at safety. I could've gotten another corner or Ikie Calderon for more safety help, but I absolutely had to have Marshall Robinson at that spot. Ulysees Gilbert is a huge bright spot for Akron's signing class and thought that he'd be an All-MAC player in a few years no matter what team he's on.
I also want to have a better passing offense. While everybody got the best quarterbacks in the early rounds, I decided to get Jake Johnson in the middle rounds, who could end up having at least one pretty good year in the MAC. More importantly, I grabbed Kadeem Goulbourne in the first round. I loved Goulbourne's potential, and I think he'll mesh will with the Broncos receiving corps. Arthur Thompkins could be a scat back or a little speedy receiver. Then there's Cody Tuttle and Derek Lee that could help out right away. Tuttle is more of an H-back slot receiver that could provide more scoring help, and Derek Lee makes for the one more goal line option as a tight end or a fullback.
The offensive line was strengthened with Chase VanHoef and Ryan Mullen. A couple of three-star prospects that I think would be nice additions to have on an already pretty good o-line. Then Alexx Zielinski, a tight end, was a value grab to help out on the goal line, but also for as a long-term prospect.
Overall, I think that I should've grabbed another safety or a corner instead of Thompkins or Robinson, but the offense that I've bulked up is something that I really liked. I do think Lee is going to be a bigger help for Bowling Green this year than we might expect. I know that the real signing class was way better than my pick of 15 guys, but I'd feel pretty happy if I were a WMU fan that knew I was getting these guys. -Alex Alvarado
WR- Kadeem Goulbourne (WMU signee). Fort Lauderdale, FL (Cypress HS). 247Sports: 82 (0.8302)
S- Antonyo Sotolongo (BGSU signee). Miami, FL (Gulliver Prep). 247Sports: 81 (0.8181)
Also Need to Reads
2015 Mid-American Conference Football Recruiting Class Database
Looking for information about your team's 2015 recruiting class? Easily find every commit, with links to their FREE profiles here in the Hustle Belt 2015 MAC Recruiting Class Database.
Also Need to Reads
A 15-man class for the Rockets is just what the Rockets as they continue to shift into this new era of Rocket football. In order to set ourselves up for the future, I targeted four positions specifically: Cornerback/Safety, Running Back, QB, and the Offensive Line as a whole. I feel I really won the draft when I was able to add D.J. Brown and D'Shan Harley to the team.
At Cornerback and S, I am thrilled I was a blue to get Ginwright in the 2nd round, I had him as my number two overall defender in the class behind Eliar Hardy. Aside from him, I had some great value picks that got me more athletes in the secondary. In order to win the MAC, you can not get by with a below-grade secondary, and I am here to guarantee that will never happen again under my and Coach Heacock's watch.
For Running Back, I got the two of the top players on my board, D.J. Brown and PJ Simmons. Brown dominated HS football in Arkansas, and I expect nothing less than a 1,000 yard season from him in the coming seasons. Simmons is an explosive athlete and him and Brown are going to create quite the 1-2 punch.
At Quarterback, I had placed the highest priority on landing an impact arm with the ability to move with his feet. Enter Tyree Jackson, a 6'4 Dual-Threa QB on his way to Toledo to come in and compete for snaps from the moment he steps foot on campus. Jackson can beat you in both ways, and him combined with the athletes I signed to surround him with, the offense is set up for years to come.
While the class Toledo signed in 2015 was good, I truly feel that the class I have chosen has the chance to be GREAT. all weaknesses have been addressed, the program has gotten it's future star at QB, and the backfield is now LOADED with talent. -Russ Johnson
RB- DJ Brown (NIU signee). Little Rock, AR (North Little Rock). 247Sports: 84 (0.8430)
RB- P.J. Simmons (Kent St. signee). Tallahassee, FL (Amos P. Godby). 247Sports: 84 (0.8392)
Bowling Green Falcons
The Bowling Green Falcons under head coach Dino Babers are known for their trademark up-tempo offense. That's why we focused heavily in this draft on restocking the offensive side of the ball. Out of our 15 total draft picks, nine were on offense, five on defense and one on special teams.
The strategy in the draft was also to go after guys who could spend three or four years in the program. We stayed away from reaching for the one-year graduate school guys or the transfers that have only a year or two of eligibility left. We feel good that we have added 15 student-athletes that will be in our program for the foreseeable future.
Picking next to last in the draft, we were thrilled to land Spencer Tears in the first round. We had Tears rated as the number one wide receiver on our draft board and he happened to fit a position of need as an offensive playmaker.
Our second round pick was much of the same strategy as we went after our highest rated defensive player on our board, linebacker Junior McMullen. We felt McMullen was a player we could build a defense around.
Our next four picks all were on offense as we added a pair of running backs, an offensive lineman and a quarterback. The tandem of Matt Dormer and Sekai Lindsay could do some serious damage in the MAC over the next few years. Dormer, the one-time Illinois recruit, could especially prove to be a great third round steal.
We also feel good about adding a quality pro-style quarterback in James Pensyl. At 6' 7" with a big arm. Pensyl can take his time to develop behind veteran starter Matt Johnson this year.
Protecting Pensyl was also a priority in this draft as we took three offensive lineman. We first picked-up guard Nathan Veloz in the fifth round, and then added Jordan Fair and Grant Williamson later. We also added two more passing catching targets for the Falcon offense in tight end Darion King and wide receiver Deric Phouthavong. Keep an eye on the 6' 5" King, who is a division I basketball recruit who has drawn comparisons to Antonio Gates.
While we didn't get quantity on defense we do feel we added quality. Linebackers Paul Engram and Troy Dipre, cornerback Justin Spencer, and defensive lineman Nico Lautanen all come with a high pedigree and should team with McMullen to fortify the Bowling Green defense for the next four years.
Our last pick in the draft was used on placekicker Sam Crosa. You often don't know what you got in a kicker until you see him line=up in a game situation. Cosa has a big leg for a small guy and should only get stronger as he sits and learns from current all-MAC kicker Tyler Tate.
All in all we think Coach Babers would be very happy with the incoming class we put together for the Falcons. -Randy Carpenter
WR- Spencer Tears (NIU signee). Oak Lawn, IL (H L Richards HS). 247Sports: 85 (0.8622)
LB- Junior McMullen (Miami signee). Oak Park, MI (Oak Park). 247Sports: 81 (0.8332)
Northern Illinois Huskies
I think it's fair to say that my draft strategy was a little different for NIU than it was for Kent St. I was more open to drafting transfers at certain points in the draft to help keep NIU on top of the MAC. In the first round, I knew I wanted to go defensive and get an impact player. On top of Kevin Thurman being a talented player, he's a local kid which helps maintain the DeKalb-Chicago pipelline. Thurman will help the Huskies immediately on the defensive line as they could use a big body like his. In the second round, I had plans on taking an offensive player but S Rolan Milligan was too hard to pass up at this point. I wasn't expecting Milligan to be around late in the 2nd round, however he fell right into my lap at the end of the 2nd round. Milligan is a graduate UAB transfer so he'll bring leadership as well as the experience that this NIU secondary. After seeing actual NIU signee, WR Spencer Tears get drafted in the 1st round, I knew which receiver I would target shortly after. Former Cincinnati commit WR James Gardner has a similar skill set as Tears and is comparable in most areas. In my opinion, Gardner and Milligan were great values at the end of the 2nd and 3rd rounds respectively.
In the middle rounds I wound up taking a few of NIU's signees in real life. LB Kyle Pugh, OL Vince Hughes, and WR Marcus Jones will be nice fits at NIU. As I mentioned in my blurbs, RB James Gilbert reminds me a lot of MAC Offensive Player of the Year, RB Jarvion Franklin. Gilbert is a little smaller but has a similar running style and could make and immediate impact coming out of the backfield. In round 13, the Huskies got the steal of the draft in LB Darryl Monroe. Monroe is a Washington State graduate transfer who would fill a gaping hole in NIU's linebacker corps. With the recent suspension of Rasheed Lemon, NIU will need an experienced linebacker to step in and allow the younger linebackers, Jamaal Payton and Bobby Jones specifically, to develop for another year.
One goal of mine was to pick up a quarterback at some point, however it just didn't happen. Quarterbacks went off the board extremely fast and I just figured I'd be best to focus on other areas(i.e. picking up an extra lineman in Evin Ksiezarczyk). Instead of reaching for one of the leftover QB's at the end of the draft, I decided to take a flier on another linebacker, UConn transfer Tom Rodrick. Rodrick will have to sit out next season however he is a guy who could make an impact down the line.
Overall, I would probably prefer the actual signing class that NIU signed instead of this 15-man class that I drafted. As much as I like some of my picks, the depth of NIU's 2015 recruiting class tips the scale in their favor. The only thing that could have helped NIU's real life recruiting class even more would be a few transfers, which is something that we were able to accomplish in this fantasy draft. In my opinion, NIU's real recruiting class has more depth at positions of need than my fantasy 15-man recruiting class and let's be honest, at this point NIU's coaching staff has done more than enough to earn the trust of its fans when it comes to recruiting. -Mike Karpinski
WR- James Gardner (Miami signee). Fort Lauderdale, FL (Fort Lauderdale). 247Sports: 83 (0.8295)
RB- James Gilbert (Ball St. signee). Indianapolis, IN (Lawrence Central). 247Sports: 81 (0.8285)