As if you needed more tangible proof that this was a down year for MAC football, the NFL Draft coughed up another morsel of evidence. Only five players in all were taken during the 255 selections (new team in parentheses):
• 3rd round, 90th pick: Ohio WR Taylor Price (Patriots)
• 6th round, 181nd pick: CMU QB Dan LeFevour (Bears)
• 6th round, 193rd pick: Buffalo RB James Starks (Packers)
• 6th round, 195th pick: CMU WR Antonio Brown (Steelers)
• 7th round, 245th pick: Kent State WR Jameson Konz (Seahawks)
The last time only five MAC guys were taken was in 2002. Now, that year wasn't a terrible draft. Three of them (Dave Zastudil, Chester Taylor, Chris Massey) are still playing in the league, and they were all second day selections. But in the seven previous drafts, they provided five first-round picks and seven second-rounders.
For whatever reason, a lot of MAC players slid down. The sensational LeFevour was supposed to be a third- or fourth-round guy. Starks might've went a round later than expected. And then there are the ones who missed the draft completely, notably record-setting wide receiver Freddie Barnes and hard-hitting safety Barry Church. Folks like Buffalo wide receiver Naaman Roosevelt and WMU quarterback Tim Hiller were probably written off because of their blasé senior seasons.
What boggles the mind is that, of all these talented athletes, Price was the first guy to go from the Mid-American. Price wasn't well known in the draft … hell, he wasn't even that known in the MAC. Ohio University was a terrible passing team. This guy was eighth in the conference in yards, eighth in YPC, and 10th in touchdowns. This is the class of the MAC, apparently. (But remember, never use logic when it comes to Ohio University athletics.)
The Patriots always conjure up inventive uses for their offensive players, and he may even replace ex-MAC receiver (and former first round pick) Randy Moss whenever he retires.
He fell, but right into an awesome situation. The Chicago Bears' clock of patience is ticking rapidly on the savior-elect Jay Cutler, and by the time it expires, LeFevour may be ready to start. Right now he's an accurate guy who's also a solid threat to run, but it's just a matter of learning how to line up under center and play a pro-style game of football.
He also grew up in suburban Chicago as a huge Bears fan, so you love to hear stories about hometown guys playing for their childhood team.
And as erratic as the Bears have been at the Sidluckmanback position, the last time they took a QB was six years ago: Kyle Orton. And didn't that go well?
He might have the best chance of the five to make an impact next year. After Green Bay has nothing but Ryan Grant and a big icy gap on their running back depth chart. When I alluded to all those down years for a lot of seniors, Starks probably had the worst — he was injured for all of it. Otherwise he might've been a second-rounder. Quarterbacks rightfully receive a lot of publicity from the MAC, but after Chester Taylor and Michael Turner, it may be soon time to start talkin' about tailbacks.
Of all the guys who fell, this was a nice little surprise. One of LeFevour's favorite targets in school, his versatility caught the Steelers' eye, who need receivers. He's a brilliant punt returner but could also get some reps on offense.
The burly blonde from Kent State might be the most fun pick of all. Technically he's listed as "fullback" on his college profile, and depending on which NFL Draft guru you follow, he's either a running back or wide receiver. Who knows what he'll do? Only coach Pete Carroll holds the answer.
But it's moot what his position will be. Konz will succeed. Hell, I'll even go out on a limb and predict a Pro Bowl for him. Multiple Pro Bowls, even.
Why? Let's look at other football players from Kent State:
• Chargers TE Antonio Gates (undrafted, six Pro Bowls)
• Steelers LB James Harrison (undrafted, three Pro Bowls)
• Browns WR/KR Josh Cribbs (undrafted, two Pro Bowls)
Gates played basketball, Harrison needed many years to become dominant, and Cribbs was a quarterback. (Ex-Kent State quarterback Julian Edelman is also a wide receiver for the Patriots). The common theme is that Golden Flashes are multifaceted athletes who, once coaches decide where to line them up, always succeed. The Seahawks noticed this. They might've gotten the steal of the draft.
And after Mr. Irrelevant was crowned, the undrafted free agents began finding teams. Here's where they all went so far (thanks to NFL News & Rumors for the extensive-looking list)
• WR Freddie Barnes, Bears (Between him and LeFevour, I may need to switch my allegiance to the Bears if they both make the team.)
• QB Tyler Sheehan, Texans
• WR Naaman Roosevelt, Bills (He's never gonna escape that town.)
• S Mike Newton, Indianapolis Colts
• DE Frank Zombo, Packers (The infinite is attainable!)
• WR Bryan Anderson, Patriots
• TE Vernon Sims, Bears
OT David Tyler, Cardinals
S Dominique Harris, Bills
DT Andre Neblett, Panthers
OT Steve Maneri, Texans
WR Stephen Williams, Cardinals
S Barry Church, Cowboys
QB Tim Hiller, Colts (I'll go out on a limb and say he won't compete for the starting job.)
CB Thad Turner, Colts (updated April 26)
Akron, Ball State, Eastern Michigan, Miami University
None, but thanks for trying!