Mock me if you wish.
But I like mock NFL drafts.
Actually, I like following NFL drafts period — even if there are no WVU players projected to be selected in the first rounds.
Which again looks to be the case this year.
Yes, Mountaineer fans, it looks to be a long wait if you’re plopping down at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 29, for the start of the three-day event.
From what I’ve been able to find, there are only a couple WVU players in the mix to be drafted: defensive lineman Darius Stills and linebacker Tony Fields.
And note I said “in the mix” to be drafted. From the players rankings I found, the best-case scenario for Stills is to go in the fourth round and for Fields is the fifth. The worst-case scenario is both go undrafted.
Honestly, I believe both will be selected within the seven rounds, but here’s a sample of what’s out there: CBS Sports has Stills as the No. 109 overall player (12th defensive lineman), while Pro Football Focus has him No. 264 overall and Draft Network has him 299; Fields is No. 165 overall by Draft Network, No. 207 by CBS Sports and No. 241 by PFF.
(By the way, look for a 6-5, 228-pound wide receiver from the University of Charleston to also be “in the mix.” Interesting story. Michael Strachan is from Freeport, Bahamas. He was an All-Mountain East first-team selection both in 2018 and 2019. UC didn’t play last season. Anyway, he was an American Football Coaches Association second-team All-America pick as a redshirt junior after scoring 19 touchdowns and accounting for 1,319 receiving yards. Both were in the Top 10 nationally among Division II players.)
But back to WVU. The program has a proud history of sending players to the NFL. The Mountaineer media guide boasts of a top-five round selection in 10 straight years. The program is tied for second in the Big 12 for the most selections (32) since 2010. When you add it all up, WVU has had 195 players drafted through the years, including 83 in the top five rounds.
We’ll see, though, if WVU can match last season, when both Kenny Robinson (Carolina) and Colton McKivitz (San Francisco) went in the fifth round.
Of course, that’s a far cry from the glory days for WVU. There have been first-round draft picks like Karl Joseph, Kevin White, Tavon Austin, Bruce Irvin, Adam “Pac-Man” Jones and Anthony Becht.
But remember that Jerry Porter and Barrett Green were taken in the second round after Becht in 2000.
The year prior, 1999, Charles Fisher, John Thornton (father of current lineman Jalen) and Solomon Page were all second-round picks, while Gary Stills (yes, Darius’ father) and Amos Zereoue were taken in the third round.
And old-timers will remember that 1990 draft. Renaldo Turnbull was taken in the first round by the New Orleans Saints, while Reggie Rembert and Mike Fox were taken in the second round. Seven WVU players, including Major Harris in the 12th round, were selected that year.
Oh, and the year before? Eight Mountaineers were taken.
Way back in the day, players like Dick Leftwich (1966, Pittsburgh), Chuck Howley (1958, Chicago) and Joe Marconi (1956, Los Angeles) were first-round draft picks.
And look at who joined Marconi in that ’56 draft class: Sam Huff, Bruce Bosley and Fred Wyant. Marconi made the Pro Bowl in 1963. Bosley made four Pro Bowls. Wyant became one of the NFL’s most recognizable officials after his playing career.
And Huff became the face of the NFL. CBS did a 1960 special called, “The Violent World of Sam Huff.” He was on the cover of Time magazine. He was a member of the NFL’s 1950s “All-Decade Team.”
So, if you’re a Mountaineer fan, kick back and relax during the draft. You may have a long wait. Just keep in mind those glory days.
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Mitch Vingle covered sports in West Virginia for 38 years. Follow Mitch on Twitter at @MitchVingle and be sure to check out the rest of Wheelhouse Creative’s website for your marketing and advertising needs. If interested, call us at 304-905-6005.