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Mountain West Football: First Look at 2024 NFL Draft Prospects


Mountain West Football: First Look At 2024 NFL Draft Prospects


Next year’s class of NFL prospects from the Mountain West is an interesting mix of stars and under-the-radar breakout candidates.


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Who could be next April’s top players?

Air Force

As usual, it’s always tough to determine which cadets are most likely to be on the NFL’s radar, but the Falcons project to have a very stingy defense this fall and that could bode well for someone like Camby Goff. The defensive back from Reynoldsburg, Ohio has played all over the secondary, and often in the box, over the last two seasons and led Air Force in 2022 with three interceptions and nine passes defended while allowing just 42.9% of receiver targets to be caught. Listed at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, he’s definitely worth tuning in for.

In the mix: Trey Taylor, S; Everett Smalley, OT

Boise State

If the bounceback can last for another season, then it’s easy to think that NFL teams will be interested in running back George Holani. Though he had help in the offensive backfield throughout 2022, Holani led the Broncos with 1,157 rushing yards and 13 total touchdowns while contributing 24 receptions for 151 yards to the passing game, as well.

The most enticing statistic, though? According to Pro Football Focus, Holani had 15 more missed tackles forced (70) than any other Mountain West running back. As usual, the Broncos are likely to have a handful of prospects worth following, but he may be something else entirely.

In the mix: Cade Beresford, OT; Stefan Cobbs, WR; DJ Schramm, LB

Colorado State

The Rams didn’t have a great 2023 as a team, but Mohamed Kamara thrived under new defensive coordinator Freddie Banks. Among Mountain West defenders, the Newark native finished in a tie for fourth with 8.5 sacks and third with 16.5 tackles for loss while tallying 35 quarterback hurries. Now that he has a full year within Banks’ system under his belt, he should be in the conversation as the conference’s most disruptive player next season.

In the mix: Chigozie Anusiem, CB; Tory Horton, WR

Fresno State

The Bulldogs may not be quite as rife with prospects next year, but Levelle Bailey is an underrated defender who figures to anchor a veteran linebacker unit. Over the past two seasons, he’s racked up 144 total tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, and 13 passes defended; in 2022, Pro Football Focus credited him with 48 stops, tied for the second-most among all Mountain West players.

In the mix: Cam Lockridge, CB

Hawaii

The Warriors will have much more experience on hand in Timmy Chang‘s second year at the helm and, among their veteran group, Virdel Edwards II is someone who deserves more attention. After transferring in from Iowa State, he made a switch from safety to cornerback and became the top player, per PFF, in Hawaii’s secondary last year with a 71.4 overall grade. He tied for the team lead with three interceptions and broke up five passes while collecting 50 total tackles and, at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, has a blend of size and athleticism unlike many of his peers at the position throughout the Mountain West.

In the mix: Matthew Shipley, P/K; Cam Stone, CB; Solo Vaipulu, OL

Nevada

It might seem lazy to select a specialist here, but Brandon Talton is no ordinary kicker. He announced himself back in 2019 by crushing a game-winning 56-yard field goal in the Wolf Pack’s season opener against Purdue, then connected on his first 13 field goal tries and then, four years later, set the Mountain West record for career field goals made with a 80% success rate. Oh, and did we mention that includes making 20-of-31 of field goals from 40-plus yards? Nevada hasn’t been shy about letting him use his cannon leg to put points on the board over the years.

In the mix: Dalevon Campbell, WR

New Mexico

One of the few mainstays on a Lobos defense that’s seen plenty of upheaval over the past two off-seasons, Donte Martin is back to make another argument that he’ll belong in the NFL this time next year. Since breaking into the starting lineup as a redshirt freshman in 2019, Martin has defended 27 passes and, according to Pro Football Focus, he had his best season yet in 2022 with an overall grade of 74.0. If UNM has a resurgence this fall, Martin is likely to be a big reason why.

In the mix: Dylan Hopkins, QB; Aaron Rodriguez, P

San Diego State

If Patrick McMorris hadn’t transferred to Cal earlier this month, he probably would’ve been the pick here but that honor instead goes to Jack Browning. You might think to yourself, “Wait, another specialist?” and that’s okay, but consider that not only did Browning connect on 20-of-25 field goals in his first year replacing Matt Araiza, he also finished fourth in FBS with an average of 46.3 yards per punt and finished third in the Mountain West with a touchback rate of 62.7% on kickoffs. That helped him earn recognition as the conference’s special teams player of the year and should make him a safe bet to get a look from needy teams in the later rounds next year.

In the mix: Dallas Branch, CB; Jalen Mayden, QB

San Jose State

The pickings are a lot slimmer now that the Spartans have turned the page and graduated a number of their top players from the past few seasons, but safety Tre Jenkins is the one holdover with the greatest chance of following in Viliami Fehoko’s footsteps. He had his best year yet in 2022 by making 60 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, and two interceptions. Jenkins has also spent time at free safety and defending out of the slot over the past two years, so one more strong campaign could push him into late-round consideration.

In the mix: Chevan Cordeiro, QB

UNLV

Jerrae Williams made a strong first impression in his first year with the Rebels after transferring in from Arkansas-Monticello. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Harvey, Louisiana native spent most of his time operating out of the slot in 2022 but managed to pick up 56 total tackles, including 5.5 tackles for loss, to go along with two interceptions. Most interestingly, according to Pro Football Focus, Williams also led all Mountain West defensive backs with 35 stops.

In the mix: Eli’jah Shelton, LB; Jeff Weimer, WR

Utah State

Though his first season in Logan was cut short by injury, it was all in all a pretty successful campaign for MJ Tafisi after transferring in-state from Utah. In eight games, Tafisi led the Aggies defense by averaging 8.6 tackles per game while tallying nine tackles for loss and 34 stops, according to Pro Football Focus. If he can stay healthy, watch out.

In the mix: Wade Meacham, G; Terrell Vaughn, WR

Wyoming

Though he battled injuries throughout the 2022 season, it would be unwise to overlook defensive tackle Cole Godbout. The 6-foot-4, 285-pound Wisconsinite still managed to earn the highest overall PFF grade, 77.7, of any Cowboys defender for the third straight season with 33 total tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss, so assuming he’s back to 100%, Mountain West quarterbacks and running backs will need to know where #94 is at all times.

In the mix: Frank Crum, OT; Treyton Welch, TE

More NFL Draft!

2023 NFL Draft: Undrafted Free Agent Tracker

2023 NFL Draft: How To Watch Day 3, Livestream, Order Of Picks

2023 NFL Draft Profiles: Best Of The Rest From The Mountain West

Story originally appeared on Mountain West Wire