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Ask CUSA Report: NFL Draft

The 2018 NFL Draft is approaching and UTSA’s Marcus Davenport has been making lots of noise at the Senior Bowl. This prompted the following question:

This is a good question.

The answer is not extremely difficult to answer but it becomes even easier when you consider reframing the question. The conference as it is currently comprised is very different than the pre-2013 realignment. We could delve into the the history of the league but that does not tell us much useful information. Tulane, SMU, and Houston have much more D1-A/FBS history than do UTSA and WKU and so comparing them would not be fair.

The short answer is that since 2013, there have not been more than one first round selection from CUSA programs in the NFL draft.

CUSA NFL Draft Selections By Round 2014-2017

Year Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Total
2014 0 0 2 1 3 2 1 9
2015 0 0 1 0 1 3 1 6
2016 1 † 0 1 2 0 3 3 10
2017 0 1 5 0 2 1 0 9

† Vernon Butler of La tech selected 30th by the Carolina Panthers

Marcus Davenport and Will Hernandez were making noise at Senior Bowl week and might be getting into the first round together.

NFL.com’s Mike Mayock:

DE Marcus Davenport, Texas-San Antonio: He probably didn’t win as many one-on-one drills as I thought he would. He basically just showed bull rush all week long. He has great size and ability; he’s just very raw. I saw toughness from him. I think you’ll see his pass-rush moves develop, so I think he’s going to be fine. I think he’s a first-round guy. He just didn’t quite jump off the page in one-on-one drills like you thought he might

OG Will Hernandez, UTEP: He carries 340 pounds tremendously well. He’s a mauler.

Guys like Ito Smith, Richie James, Mike White, Jeff Wilson, and many other are looking to get picked up by the league in this spring’s draft.

2014

Round Pick Team Player Position School
3 85 Packers Khryi Thornton DT Southern Miss
3 87 Chiefs Phillip Gaines CB Rice
4 107 Raiders Justin Ellis DT La Tech
5 142 Washington Ryan Grant WR Tulane
5 170 49ers Keith Reaser CB FAU
5 172 Seahawks Jimmy Staten DT MTSU
6 199 Seahawks Garrett Scott OT Marshall
6 210 Jets IK Enemkpali DE La Tech
7 221 Bills Randell Johnson LB FAU

Wikipedia notes 4 players from this draft that went unselected and made major contributions: Zach Orr of NT, Chris Boswell of Rice, Cairo Santos and Orleands Darkwa of Tulane.

2015

Round Pick Team Player Position School
3 65 Colts D’Joun Smith CB FAU
5 159 Cardinals JJ Nelson WR UAB
6 213 Packers Kennard Backman TE UAB
6 216 Texans Christian Covington DT Rice
6 217 Chiefs Rakeem Nunez-Roches DT Southern Miss
7 247 Pats Darryl Roberts CB Marshall

Wikipedia notes Neville Hewitt of Marshall as one noteable undrafted player

2016

Round Pick Team Player Position School
1 30 Panthers Vernon Butler DT La Tech
3 64 Titans Kevin Byard S MTSU
4 110 Rams Tyler Higbee TE WKU
4 134 Ravens Kenneth Dixon RB La Tech
6 188 Vikings David Morgan TE UTSA
6 206 Rams Mike Thomas WR Southern Miss
6 207 49ers Jeff Driskel QB La Tech
7 223 Dolphins Brandon Doughty QB WKU
7 249 49ers Prince Charles Iworah CB WKU
7 253 Titans Kalan Reed ✢ CB Southern Miss

✢ Mr. Irrelevant

Wikipedia notes Jalen Richard of USM as a notable undrafted player

2017

Round Pick Team Player Position School
2 38 Chargers Forrest Lamp G WKU
3 65 Browns Larry Ogunjobi DT Charlotte
3 72 Titans Taywan Taylor WR WKU
3 82 Broncos Carlos Henderson WR La Tech
3 100 Titans Jonnu Smith TE FIU
3 103 Saints Trey Hendrickson OLB FAU
5 177 49ers Trent Taylor WR La Tech
5 182 Packers Aaron Jones RB UTEP
6 191 Cowboys Xavers Woods S La Tech

Of the 34 picks here is the breakdown by school:

  • La Tech – 8
  • WKU – 5
  • Southern Miss – 4
  • FAU – 4
  • Rice – 2
  • UAB – 2
  • Marshall – 2
  • MTSU – 2
  • Tulane – 1
  • UTEP – 1
  • UTSA – 1
  • FIU – 1
  • Charlotte – 1

In this same time period, La Tech has had two league title appearances (losing both) and WKU has two wins. Southern Miss has on title appearance (a loss) and Rice won the league over Marshall in 2013.

UAB disappeared for a while, obviously, but at least two players that left and went on to be drafted elsewhere: Jordan Howard went in the 5th round from Indiana, Gerald Everette went in the 2nd after transferring to South Alabama.

Wins in the years 2013-2016

WKU – 39
Marshall – 36
La Tech – 31
MTSU – 29
Rice – 26
USM – 20
UTSA – 20
UTEP – 18
FAU – 15
FIU – 14
Charlotte – 16 (10 of which were from FCS/FBS independent)
UAB – 8 (disbanded team after 2014)
Tulane – 7 (one season)

We can see that talent roughly correlates with winning. Marshall, of course, was led by Rakeem Cato who is still playing pro ball outside of the NFL. Also, FAU’s 4 draft choices and mere 15 wins before Lane Kiffin arrived is evidence of what was suspected: FAU was a sleeping giant.

What will be interesting as this chart is updated after the 2018 draft is that this year’s crop of good teams was relatively young. FAU’s main stars are returning to defend their title, and the West champ North Texas is in a similar situation. Young rosters led the way.

Southern Miss’ Ito Smith, Korey Robertson and Allenzae Staggers are in the mix for this draft and that will make Golden Eagle fans even more frustrated at the two title game losses and disappointing 2017 season with those players on the roster.

photo credit: mjpeacecorps NFL Draft 2011 via photopin (license)

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