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2014 Mid-American Conference Group of Five Draft: Round One

Miami's on the clock.

Welcome to Round One of the first Hustle Belt Group of Five Draft.  Two rounds, each MAC school represented.  We pick the best from the AAC, Conference USA, the MWC, and the Sun Belt.  Consolidation is the only way we fight the Power Five.  Together we can save mid-major football.  MACtion can be had by all.  With the first pick in the HBG5 Draft....

1.  Cyril Lemon, Guard, Senior, North Texas

It's no secret that Miami has one of the weakest offensive lines in the NCAA. The word on the street is that Chuck Martin and his staff are working like dogs to upgrade the guys we have now, and it's obvious from recruiting that the new coaching staff wants to have as many linemen as possible to build for the future. Well, if we want to build for this year, then I want Cyril Lemon: honorable mention all C-USA his freshman and sophomore seasons at guard, then first team all C-USA as a junior. He's started every single game on the offensive line in his three years in Denton, and that's the kind of talent and experience we need right away in Oxford. - The Chuck

2.  Silverberry Mouhon, Defensive Lineman, Junior, Cincinnati

Well many would think the Massachusetts Minutemen would take a quarterback here. I'm going to swerve from common logic though. Maybe its because the Minutemen have 7 quarterbacks already on the roster. Maybe it's because I believe in Blake Frohnapfel. Maybe I'm just overthinking this. Looking at the facts though, the Minutemen were 113th against the rush last year, giving up an astonishing 5.4 yards per attempt. That's why I'm taking Silveryberry Mouhon from the Cincinnati Bearcats. The Minutemen need talent up the middle, and Mouhon provides that in spades. Last season he gave the Bearcats 9.5 sacks, and he was only a sophomore. Now, with another year of development under his belt, this kid can be a real stud and give the Minutemen the defensive stops they need.      

3.  Martin Ifedi, Defensive Lineman, Senior, Memphis

I really wanted to go QB with both Chuckie Keeton and Shane Carden (hello Ohio fans.  Does that hurt a little?) out there.  However, with Zach Terrell's apparent development, and the depth behind him in both Cam Thomas and Chance Stewart, I have to look elsewhere.  The secondary and WRs are set for the Broncos as well, so I'm either looking at a lineman or a tight end.  The more pressing need though is a defensive lineman with experience, and Ifedi brings that.  The 6-3 defensive lineman usually lines up at DE, but can roll into the middle if need be.  With DE being a weak position for the Broncos (and I mean especially weak), Ifedi automatically becomes not only the top dog and star on the line, but a much needed mentor for such a youthful group (1 junior, 1 senior [transferred in]).  His 19 sacks and 25.5 TFL the past two seasons should help win the battle in the trenches and cause nightmares for MAC backfields all year long, while his experience helps bolster the roster down the road.- Brandon Fitzsimons

4. Derron Smith, Free Safety, Senior, Fresno State

In 2013, Eastern Michigan only had seven interceptions all together. Sean Kurtz and Ike Spearman, linebackers (not defensive backs), both led the team with two a piece. In a conference where you need a strong backfield to be successful, having most of your interceptions owned by linebackers obviously didn't get the job done.

Smith, a free safety, is the FBS active leader in interceptions with 14 and half of those came last season. He also accumulated 87 total tackles (59 solo) while swatting five passes. Mycal Swaim, starting safety for the Eagles last year (now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), only had 81 tackles with one interception last year.

And what good is talent if they don't show up in big games? Well, Smith shows up. In the Las Vegas Bowl against USC, he had 18 tackles (11 solo) with an interception for 41 yards. That'd be a nice stat line to have at a payday game against B1G and SEC opponents.             - Alex Alvarado

5. Beau Barnes, Defensive End, Senior, Southern Methodist

The Flashes need a lot of things on defense, but with defensive linemen Roosevelt Nix and Mark Fackler out of eligiblity, help up front is a must. The secondary is solid, so a guy who can play the run is a bigger need, and the SMU defensive end is one of the best. An upgrade from Fackler, Barnes made 13 of his 45 tackles in the opponents backfield, added 5 sacks (not bad for a 30 end), and even picked off a pass. He'll get a better opportunity to flash his pass rush ability in the Flashes system. - Al Burke

6.  Deontay Greenberry, Wide Receiver, Junior, Houston

Conventional wisdom here may be to go defense, or go to the offensive line like the first four picks, but I'm going for broke.  Akron was the surprise of the MAC last year and will be looking for bowl eligibility this coming season.  I think Kyle Pohl has the potential to be a top tier QB in the MAC, and I feel confident in the running game with Jawon Chisholm in the backfield.  I'm getting Pohl a weapon.  Greenberry is a former 5-star recruit and Mr. Football in the state of California.  He's on every watch list you can name entering this season, caught for over 1,200 yards last year, and in this world is now an Akron Zip. - Keith Scheessele

7.  Rakeem Cato, Quarterback, Senior, Marshall

Don't get me wrong, I like Derrius Vick-he's got some wheels, a solid arm, and guts-but he's still somewhat of an unknown as a starting quarterback. Ohio's defense will be its strength this year, and now without Tyler Tettleton I can't pass up a sure thing like Rakeem Cato, who just may be the best pure-passer in the game. He instantly gives Ohio the best quarterback in the MAC, and an accomplished leader to take the reins of an offense that's lost several leaders over the course of the offseason. - Bryan M. Vance

8.  Shane Carden, Quarterback, Senior, East Carolina

The Chippewas have had a huge void at quarterback since Dan LeFevour graduated. Carden does not have the same ability with his legs that LeFevour possessed, but one thing is for sure he protects the ball and makes smart decisions in the pocket as evidenced by his 3-1 career td to int ratio. - Jeremy Dugans

9.  Bobby McCain, Defensive Back, Senior, Memphis

Last year the Rockets were 10th in pass defense, 10th in pass defense efficiency, 11th in interceptions, and 13th in red zone defense. With the MAC being a pass heavy conference the addition of McCain to the Rockets' defensive back unit would improve in everyway. McCain missed 3 games last season due to injury but that didn't stop him from intercepting 6 passes, taking 2 back for touchdowns. In 32 career games McCain has 90 tackles, 70 solo, recovered two fumbles and forced another. He is entering this year as the NCAA FBS co-leader in interceptions per game with a .7 average. A change to a team that wins more might also help McCain mentally with Memphis only winning 3 games last year.  A few wins with the Rockets could make him a better player. With the addition of this ball hawk to the defense, I could see the Rockets defensive improving significantly in the upcoming season. - Ian Davis

10.  Rickey Hunter, Defensive Lineman, Junior, Memphis

It's pretty obvious who the Bulls will miss most on defense, but for a team like Buffalo, or indeed any mid-major, there's no replacing a player like Khalil Mack. Even in his absence, the Bulls are still strong at linebacker, but need to replace both of their ends, especially Colby Way. Hunter may be used to playing in even fronts, but at 6'3 and 280 pounds, he's well able to play (maybe more so) in the 3-4. He's capable as both a pass rusher and a run-stuffer, making 36 tackles, 12 for loss, and adding 4.5 sacks. With his size, he'll help keep his linebackers clean. - Al Burke

11.  Taylor Heinicke, Quarterback, Senior, Old Dominion

Ball State desperately needs a quarterback to fill in the gap left by Keith Wenning. Taylor Heinicke produced some very impressive stats in 2013, including throwing for over 4,000 yards. The Cardinals still have a decent receiving core, led by Jordan Williams who had over 1,000 receiving yards last year. Having a good quarterback would make Ball State a very dangerous team through the air, and Heinicke looks like he would be the best fit for this offense. - NickLowe007

12.  Chuckie Keeton, Quarterback, Senior, Utah State

Quite frankly, I'm shocked that Chuckie Keeton is still on the board here with the 1st round winding down. Keeton is a perfect fit in the NIU offense and he's a top dual-threat QB. I think Keeton and Bryan's earlier selection, Rakeem Cato, could be Heisman dark horses if they stay healthy the entire year. As a sophomore for Utah State he threw for over 3,300 yards, ran for another 600, and scored 35 total TDs. Last year, in just about 5 games worth of action (if that due to blowouts), he had 1,200 yards passing, almost 300 rushing, 13 TDs (11 through the air), and just 2 interceptions. The Huskies have three unproven but talented quarterbacks vying to start this year but with Keeton still on the board here NIU's offense just got a lot more dangerous. Look for NIU to draft a defensive player the 2nd round since the offense is now looking as strong as last year with Keeton under center. - Mike Karpinski

13.  James Rouse, Defensive Lineman, Senior, Marshall

With the final pick of the first round BGSU trades the pick to UMass for future first round picks (Browns strategy, baby).

No, but seriously...BG takes James Rouse from Marshall.  Bowling Green took a step forward as a team in 2013, but actually took a step back on defense. The Falcons weren't great against the run, and were downright bad against B1G opponents. In the Pizza Bowl, BG's lack of a solid run defense was apparent (255 yards allowed with an average of 6.5 yards per carry.)  Both their starting tackles (Jairus Campbell and Ted Ouellet) are now gone so the Falcons can use some help up front. Rouse is an athletic tackle at 6-foot-5, 270 pounds, and is a menace. He explodes into the backfield and gobbles up ballcarriers to the tune of 14 tackles for-loss (-58 yards). He'll sure up the Falcons run defense and get the unit as a whole closer to its 2012 performance. - Bryan M. Vance