The Toledo Rockets football team is coming off a strong 2014 season, a campaign led by a talented senior class and finished with a satisfying bowl win. Now, as the returning Rockets hit the books, a few members of that senior class are looking to extend their football careers in the NFL.
This week's NFL Draft is the first window to opportunity at the next level. Before 256 players hear their names called at Chicago's Auditorium Theatre, we'd like to take a stab at predicting NFL landing spots for Toledo's three top draft prospects.
Projected Draft Pick: 5th Round, 157th overall to the Cincinnati Bengals
Who says you can't go home again? After a decorated career with the Rockets, the Cincinnati native could return to the Queen City to give the Bengals line a boost. While Cincinnati has three established starters on its interior line with center Russell Bodine and guards Kevin Zeitler and Clint Boling, depth is a necessity for a squad that relies on a power run game under offensive coordinator Hue Jackson. Mancz's positional versatility would make him a strong candidate to be the lead backup at center and guard, before possibly stepping in as a starter should one of the incumbents move on.
Projected Draft Pick: 6th Round, 217th overall to the Kansas City Chiefs
The pre-draft news cycle is loaded with smokescreens, but sometimes when there's smoke, there's fire. In addition to scouting him during the regular season, the Chiefs invited the speedy Sylvestre for a visit per Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star. Though a bit undersized for an NFL linebacker, Sylvestre's rare speed and strength combination would surely be of some use rotating through defensive coordinator Bob Sutton's varying front seven looks. Of course, it can't hurt that Sutton, himself an Eastern Michigan graduate and former Western Michigan assistant, does not appear to be afraid of coaching up MAC products — Central Michigan's Frank Zombo is a current member of the Chiefs' linebacker corps.
Projected Destination: Undrafted free agent signing with the Cleveland Browns
Ever since 14 years of kicking game stability ended when Phil Dawson left for San Francisco in free agency, the Browns' kicker position has been unsettled. Cleveland replaced Dawson with journeyman Billy Cundiff, who kept a tenuous hold on the job until the end of the 2014 season, making way for the talented but inconsistent Garrett Hartley. While Hartley is assumed to be the incumbent starter, it would not be surprising to see the Browns chase a more reliable long-term option. If general manager Ray Farmer opens up a camp competition, he may call Ohio native Detmer, who already boasts four years of experience hitting field goals in unfriendly weather conditions along Lake Erie.
Your guess is as good as ours! Where do you think these three are headed? Let us know in the comments.
(Note: While we published a draft profile on safety Jordan Haden in February, the National Football Post reported last week that Haden has chosen not to pursue an NFL playing career.)