Draft day is almost here. We are a few weeks away from watching college stars take the next step in their careers. Unfortunately for the Red Raiders, the past 5 drafts have only seen 4 of our own get drafted (Jamar Wall-2010, Baron Batch-2011, Jace Amaro & Will Smith -2014), and this year's crop of draft eligible Red Raiders do not look like they will change the story. None were invited the annual NFL Scouting Combine. While all indications are that Bradley Marquez had a great pro day last month and he is our best chance to have a Red Raider drafted, I think his chances are slim.
So while it is a year early, I would like to look at the 2016 class of draft eligible Red Raiders. I think we will have a little more success getting players drafted next year. Hopefully this will start a trend.
Surefire Draft Picks
Le'Raven Clark: Unless something extremely unexpected happens next season there is no doubt Clark gets drafted. He is ranked a top 5 offensive tackles by several sources coming into next year. While he didn't get a 1st or 2nd round grade after the 2014 season, I would be surprised if he made it to the 3rd round without getting his named called. The last 5 drafts have seen somewhere between 6 and 9 offensive tackles drafted in first two rounds. If he maintains his status, he will get drafted early.
Possible Draft Picks
DeAndre Washington: Looking at several sources, DeAndre doesn't seem to be that highly thought of as a draft prospect for 2016. I have seen him ranked right around #40 in a couple of places. The past few drafts have seen about 25 running backs drafted. I would expect if he has another good year his stock will climb and he could sneak into the late rounds. Ideally he will put on a few more pounds and get to 205 to 210 range without losing his quickness. One trend I noticed while looking at past drafts, very few running back weighing under 200 lbs get drafted.
Pete Robertson: I have seen a couple of services rating him around #10 for outside linebacker draft prospects. If that holds true, he would be a mid-round pick. I really struggled with putting him in surefire draft picks, but didn't because a bad season and he could easily fall out of the draft. The difference between him and Le'Raven is that Le'Raven has been a stud for multiple years. He has some equity built up and a down year for him would still get him drafted. Pete had a really good 2014 season but he was a relative unknown to non-Red Raider fans prior to last season. That is big reason I feel Le'Raven is a surefire pick and Pete still has some work to do. I hope this time next year I can list him up there with Le'Raven.
Outside Chance Draft Picks
Jared Kaster: I think Kaster is a really solid college center, but he doesn't seem to thought of too highly by draft gurus. He was somewhere between 30 and 50 in the rankings for draft eligible centers. That ranking isn't anywhere close to being draftable. I feel like as good as he is for us there may be a chance he climbs up some draft rankings next year but maybe he is a just a good college player and nothing more.
Branden Jackson: Of the players listed in this category, I feel like Branden has the best chance to get drafted. He has been a solid player for us. Similar to Kaster, I don't find any rankings where Jackson is high enough to get drafted at this point. He falls right around #50 in the DE rankings. With a really good year, he could jump into the late rounds.
Jakeem Grant: I think he really doesn't have much a shot to get drafted. Guys with Darren Sproles's size are few and far between in the NFL. His size will always be a check mark against him and his inconsistency last year won't help his stock. He will have to set the world on fire next year in order to climb into the draft. I would love to see that, but I also don't expect it.
Why the hell not?
Rika Levi: I know, I know...I probably have on my scarlet colored glasses on when typing this, but I think he could climb into the draft with an outstanding year which I expect to him have. He is into his second year at Tech when it clicks for JUCOs. He has also lost a lot of bad weight over the offseason and will probably shed a few more pounds before the season starts.I think that could make him a force for us for year and a draft pick next year. At least I hope so.