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West Virginia Mountaineers 2020 NFL Draft Prospectus

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The 2019 NFL Draft saw the most number of Mountaineers drafted. How will this year’s crop fare in April?

NFL Draft Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Now that the season is over, and with no bowl game to look forward to for West Virginia, I figured it would be a good time to check in on those seniors moving up to the next level of competition. This is essentially a preview, offering my perspective on where I think WVU’s best players may get drafted. We’ll take another look once all the pre-draft festivities are completed, namely the combine, and we have a more complete picture of each player’s measurables. I’ll include my own thoughts along with word from around the scouting sphere, if applicable.

Colton McKivitz, Offensive Tackle

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

First on our list is West Virginia’s best overall prospect for this upcoming draft. McKivitz is the long-term starter at tackle, though he began his career and played the majority of his games on the right with Cajuste locking down the blind side. Given he was the best returning lineman this season, he was moved to left tackle where the results were a mixed bag but mostly positive.

McKivitz doesn’t blow anyone away with his athleticism. He has the requisite length to stay at tackle in the NFL, without knowing his wingspan, but I think given his shortcomings in athleticism and technique, he’s likely a candidate to stay on the right side or even move inside to guard. I do not see him working as a left tackle at the next level.

On a technical level, I’ve noticed Colton tends to stay too high and tight, perhaps struggling to drop his hips and keep a more stable base. He has good hands, but there are times he struggles to read his assignment and gets lost in the zone. His functional strength certainly seems more than adequate. He reminds me a little of Tyler Orlosky back in 2017, a limited athlete that lacked versatility and a more complete range of positional “competence.” Orlosky ended up falling out of the draft entirely and is now out of the league despite being graded by many scouts as 3rd or 4th-round material.

In totality, McKivitz has a few shortcomings that – in my mind – prevent him from being a can’t miss prospect. I’m not sure he’s as strong a player as Cajuste. We know the line struggled all year for West Virginia, certainly that can’t all be put on McKivitz, but he also wasn’t good enough to elevate their play in the run game. There was limited success on zone reads around the left side, most notably against N.C. State, but beyond that, the rushing attack was non-functional. The passing game mostly struggled due to inefficient QB play, and we saw improvement once Doege was made the starter. Pass blocking was a comparative success.

As for other scouting agencies: opinions differ. Presently, CBS has mocked Colton to the Lions near the end of the 5th round (174 overall). Draft scout considers him their 4th best tackle prospect (not including any potential underclassmen that declare). The Draft Network has McKivitz at #204. Drafttek grades him as essentially undraftable at #452. The Draft Site has McKivitz mocked to the Vikings in the 4th round (131 overall).

It is a wide spread for now. Things will likely tighten up as we get closer to the draft. We’re still (relatively) early in the draft projection process.

Grade: C+ / B-
Draft Projection: Day Three (Rounds 4 to 7)


Keith Washington, Cornerback

NCAA Football: Texas at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Keith has only been with West Virginia for a short time, playing two full seasons at corner, tallying six total interceptions. He was WVU’s best man cover corner during his time here. The defense overall has been up-and-down the last two years, though they looked considerably improved in 2019, with quite a bit of that improvement owed to the defensive line.

Washington makes for an interesting draft prospect. He’s shown good to even great cover-man skills, a more than useful trait when it comes to the NFL. He’s also displayed above average ball skills, making plays in the air and after the fact. On the negative side, he tends to get swallowed up by blocks, even from receivers, and his top-end speed/overall athletic ability is a big question mark. Washington is a guy that can tremendously improve his stock by having strong measurables during the pre-draft process.

He struggled covering Hollywood Brown (who didn’t), but he was able to have success against other NFL-caliber receivers like Jalen Reagor out of TCU. His length will certainly be an asset, especially if teams elect to use him in more zone coverage or underneath because of his possible athletic limitations.

Right now, Keith isn’t on anyone’s radar when it comes to the NFL draft. He’s draft scout’s #34 corner (not including underclassmen). As I said, I believe he can improve on that stock, and it will be interesting to see if he ends up getting an invite to the combine (I’m not sure he will). Otherwise, he’ll have to wait until his pro day to demonstrate his athletic ability to teams. I do think it is possible he gets drafted. If not, look for him getting priority as an undrafted free agent.

Grade: C / C+
Draft Projection: Day Three (Rounds 5 to 7)


Kennedy McKoy, Running Back

NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Unfortunately for West Virginia’s senior backs, McKoy and Pettaway, the team struggled considerably this season to run the ball at an even basic level. Nothing worked. Because of the line’s overall de-evolution, the team’s backs couldn’t demonstrate their skills during their final year. This will, of course, have a deleterious effect on their draft prospects.

As we now know, though, Pettaway elected to redshirt this season, perhaps transferring elsewhere and gaining that extra year of eligibility, delaying his potential draft status for another year. McKoy, however, finished his fourth and final season with the team. Truthfully, his draft prospects are not all that strong at this time.

He had a relatively productive career at WVU, averaging about 550 yards per year, and he managed to play extensively as a freshman. His best year came last year as a junior, compiling over 800 yards on the ground and 224 through receptions. Although this is the only time he’d touch 1,000 scrimmage yards, McKoy showed the flexibility and diverse skill set to accomplish the feat with a better supporting cast.

I think Kennedy is a relatively average back, in NFL terms. He doesn’t look explosive or strong enough to make a huge impact for an NFL team. He can work in multiple schemes because of his pass-catching out of the backfield and that may help him if he lands somewhere as a UDFA. Sadly, though, I do not see McKoy getting drafted.

The Draft Network has McKoy at #379 in their Top-400. Draft scout has McKoy as the 34th running back, again not including any potential underclassmen. Like Washington, his overall prospects are quite limited, and he’s not heavily promoted in scouting circles. Even with a good pro day showing, he’ll need a fair amount of work to make himself competitive at the next level.

Grade: D+ / C-
Draft Projection: UDFA


Josh Norwood - Defensive Back

West Virginia v Kansas State Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

Josh is what I’d consider the second of WVU’s “fringe” prospects, McKoy being the first. He’s a small guy for a corner, and West Virginia moved him around, but he was famously recruited to Ohio State, thanks in large part to his aggressive nature. He showed some promise as a corner, mostly holding his own despite his smaller stature. He certainly played “above his size.”

Unfortunately, his senior year ended early due to injury, one that will sideline him for an unknown length of time. He’ll probably be ready by the time WVU’s pro day rolls around. At that time, he’ll need to display immaculate athleticism to get himself near potential draft circles.

His lack of length will pigeon-hole him into the slot only at the next level. Most – if not all – NFL teams shy away from starting guys below 5’11” on the outside. Maybe Josh can assert himself as a nickel or dime sub package artist. It’s also possible, given his aggressive nature, he seeks to stick at free safety in the NFL. Again, however, his small stature and lack of strength will hinder his ability to stick, although his man-cover abilities are a bonus. Like McKoy, I just don’t see a route for Josh to get drafted. He doesn’t have a certain position and he lacks the eye-popping attributes you might see when an NFL team takes a flyer on someone with limited production.

Draft scout has him five positions behind Washington at #39.

Grade: D / D+
Draft Projection: UDFA


George Campbell, Wide Receiver

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Campbell came to WVU by way of Florida State, and now in his senior year, he finally flashed some of that blue-chip potential. Perhaps Campbell was a late bloomer. After all, this year he did nothing but catch touchdowns, securing seven TDs on just 19 overall receptions (37%). Of course, it didn’t help Campbell that his QB situation was a murky mess for much of the season.

Discussing George may be a waste of air, as he’s apparently applied for a medical redshirt and looks to be granted a sixth season of eligibility. If that indeed happens, we’ll have to push his draft talk to next year, and truthfully, he probably needs another season of production and film to develop his draft prospects. What we have on tape now is quite limited, a rather simplistic route tree, but he has plus size and speed with a number of other unknowns.

I think Campbell’s size alone is enough to get NFL teams interested. He could stand to bulk up some more, add some strength, but he looks the part otherwise. We’ll have to see what kind of role he has with WVU going forward, assuming he receives that extra year for college ball.

If he ends up going to the draft this year because he gets denied by the NCAA, I find it unlikely but certainly possible an NFL team takes the leap on him in the later rounds. His injury history is troubling, the primary deterrent to drafting him (other than lack of production), but teams could do worse in the later rounds where picks like Campbell are more typical than atypical.

Draft scout has him as their #71 receiver.

Grade: C- / C
Draft Projection: Round 6 or 7 / Return to WVU more likely


The Rest

Hakeem Bailey (CB) – Bailey seems a bit too inconsistent to receive a ton of NFL attention. He’s been behind other guys on the depth chart for much of his career, guys that are already near the fringe of draft-worthy. He certainly hasn’t been a dud for WVU, but he hasn’t stood out enough as WVU’s #2 or #3 corner. Draft scout’s #93 corner.

Kelby Wickline (G) – Wickline struggled this year, perhaps in part due to the departure of his father as offensive line coach. Given the problems with the entirety of the line this season, I’m inclined to wish his dad was still coaching, but hopefully those issues are resolved over time. As for Kelby, he doesn’t have much pro potential. He’d have to transition inside to guard, at the very least. I’m not sure he’ll garner a ton of interest.

Reese Donahue (DL) – Reese has been a stalwart along the defensive line for going on three years now. Still, while he’s been a fine asset for the Mountaineers, he hasn’t really unlocked much in the way of NFL potential. He’s limited athletically and lacks the production professional teams would want to see in a defensive end. He also has a finite array of power and speed moves (read: not much there). With his skillset, he’d have to move inside. Perhaps he could work in as a sub package 3-tech or 5-technique in a 3-man front. I’m not sure he has ideal size for either position.

Shea Campbell (LB/S) – Campbell has been a relatively minor contributor on the defensive side of the ball. He started six games last year and played in another eleven this season. Quite limited production and undersized as a linebacker at the next level. Not much to say. Might be better off returning to his original position of safety, perhaps a WILL or a flex/hybrid position in the right scheme. Unlikely to draw a ton of league interest.

Quondarius Qualls (EDGE) – Injured again this season after missing last year with a knee injury. Minor contributor, depth at LB/DL (bandit) and not much else. At the next level, he probably wouldn’t be asked to stand up, so that leaves him mostly as a speed rushing role player from the edge. If he’s quick enough, maybe a 3-4 OLB. We’ll see if he ends up testing at WVU’s pro day and what kind of numbers he can generate.

Rex Sunahara (LS) – Long snapper. Simply not many spots in the NFL for his skills. Maybe he can get a tryout somewhere at that position.

Josh Growden (P) – Punter, transfer from LSU. Averaged 42.1 yards per punt this season, which was fifth best in the Big XII. He did win the conference for most punts and yards, however. Not likely strong enough to garner NFL attention.


Conclusions

Overall, this appears to be a down year for West Virginia’s professional prospects. There’s a very real possibility that WVU comes out of this draft with only one player drafted, and perhaps even McKivitz falls out of the seven rounds just like Orlosky. The lack of impressive talent this season does help to explain why the Mountaineers simply weren’t competitive for stretches of the year. Youth, inexperience, and almost no one competing at the highest levels.

McKivitz offers the best prospects for a player being selected, although even his value is highly debated. I don’t think he’s as strong a tackle prospect as Cajuste was just a year ago. Colton’s best offering may be moving inside to guard. After him, the remainder of West Virginia’s seniors offer only speculative draft potential. Keith Washington is, in my opinion, the second-best option, but we don’t yet know the real extent of his athleticism. He has the most room for improvement.

McKoy and Norwood offer up as potential UDFA targets, though I think both have a slim chance at sticking with an NFL team. Perhaps they can look to the CFL or elsewhere. George Campbell possibly has the highest potential out of all these players, but it appears likely he is set to return to WVU next season and improve his future draft stock. The remainder of WVU’s seniors were college-level players and don’t have a ton of professional upside, but never say never. Hopefully some positive surprises are in store for the guys interested in pursuing football at the next stage.