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2020 NFL DRAFT: West Virginia Mountaineers Draft Prospectus

There will obviously be a dip in Mountaineers drafted into the NFL compared to the 2019 class, but WVU should still have a couple guys hear their names called this weekend.

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XFL: FEB 23 New York Guardians at St. Louis BattleHawks

Now that the NFL draft is almost here, it is time to follow up on my previous piece about West Virginia’s draft targets and see how the pre-draft process has progressed. For lower-profile players, the loss of pro days and other in-person scouting visits has undoubtedly hurt their ability to improve their stock and gain momentum leading into the draft. Most of West Virginia’s prospects would fall into this group. Only one player received a combine invitation, Colton McKivitz, the most likely player to get drafted. Unfortunately, he alone will have the most complete set of data from which teams can draw their conclusions.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 16 West Virginia at Kansas State Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Colton McKivitz

As mentioned, McKivitz was the only player from WVU this season to receive a combine invitation. During said combine, he put together marginal athletic testing scores, which was mostly to be expected.

McKivitz RAS

His relative athletic score of 4.33 rates him below average in relation to the rest of this draft class at the offensive tackle position. He never stood out on tape as a strong athlete, so his mixed results here don’t conflict. He showed a bit of explosion with a decent broad jump and 10-yard split, but a team looking to draft McKivitz for a tackle role will expect a limited athlete that cannot check all the movement boxes. He will only fit in certain offensive schemes.

McKivitz also underwhelmed in the strength department. The bench press test certainly isn’t everything, but his 20 reps at 225 pounds was 3rd-worst among all the participating linemen. Only two players posted less than twenty reps. His arm length and wingspan are slightly above average, but considering his height, perhaps a tad shorter than ideal. As I mentioned in the previous article, McKivitz is a right-tackle only in the NFL, but if teams aren’t impressed by his technique or agility, particularly his kick-step, some may feel he can better off transition inside to guard. He’s played both right and left tackle, but has no experience along the inside, so that transition is a fairly tricky projection. And when you start projecting a player into an unfamiliar role, they lose some of their immediate value.

Based on size and athletic comparisons, it is hard to find a similar player that has had sustained success in the NFL. The closest bet is John Wetzel, who has bounced around a few teams now. He has never been a true starter. Most likely due to athletic limitations, Wetzel went undrafted and ended up moving inside to guard at the next level. I could see a similar outcome for McKivitz.

When we first checked scouting circles at the end of the season, McKivitz wasn’t all that highly rated. The opinions on him now remain highly variable. The highest ranking I’ve found is from Gil Brandt, an old-school guy that has him at #104 overall. ESPN (Scout Inc.) lists McKivitz at #105 overall on their Top-300. Tony Pauline puts him at 150. These are the highest grades I can find for Colton, however. Most other rankings put him in the mid-200s with some as low as nearly 400 (for boards that go that far). I have him at #203 on my draft board.

Most predictions call for McKivitz to get drafted in the 5th or 6th round. In the modern NFL, I do think the 4th round is his absolute ceiling, but I personally believe it is more likely he falls out of the draft altogether. The 6th round seems like an appropriate mid-point.

Projection: 6th Round to UDFA

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

George Campbell

At the time of the previous writing, Campbell was in limbo whether he was returning to West Virginia for a 6th season or taking his chances with the NFL draft. Turns out he did get approved for that sixth year, but instead, Campbell decided to take his best shot. Unfortunately for Campbell, it didn’t all work as planned, and a cancelled pro day meant he was once again stuck in limbo, to an extent. He did, however, tape an unofficial event in Florida with another player and his agents.

Campbell has an intriguing profile. Size and speed (his unofficial 40-time was 4.35). A high TD-catch percentage on fairly limited opportunities last season. He also got some reps on special teams, which might make all the difference for someone like him that doesn’t have much college production. He wasn’t asked to do a lot in terms of a route tree, and his overall injury history is troubling. Multiple NFL teams won’t even consider drafting him because of that injury list.

Nonetheless, Campbell was a highly rated recruit out of high school, and that elevates his profile at least a little. His size and speed combination are also quite tantalizing, and although he doesn’t have much reputation among the overall scouting community right now, I do think he’s possibly being overlooked in this distracted climate. If NFL teams are drafting based on projection, here’s a guy that could be an absolute steal at zero cost.

Ultimately, the numbers George ran unofficially can’t be trusted. It works more like loose guidance. No one doubts Campbell has good speed, but scouts need that in-person confirmation that a video (produced by agents) simply can’t equal. While it looks strong on paper, his lack of production in college, troubling injury history, and limited technical skill will all work against him.

I hope for the best here, and I do think a team could take a high-upside risk on Campbell in the 6th or 7th round. He is someone that can - at the very least - take the top off a defense, reach for jump balls, and command the defense’s respect with that rare blend.

At #362 on my big board, I have him mostly out of drafting range, and he’s certainly more likely to be a priority free agent rather than one of few college players drafted. That said, you won’t find many guys with his potential ceiling in the 7th round. Worth a shot, in my humble opinion. The question is whether any team’s scouts pound the table for him in the same way.

Projection: 7th Round to PFA

Kansas v West Virginia Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Keith Washington II

Washington falls into the larger group of West Virginia draft prospects that was considerably hurt by not having pro days. The traditional pre-draft process involves a lot of visits and in-person, more intimate scouting. It offers good opportunities for lesser known players to stand out and show something extra. Due to the lack of those opportunities this cycle, a lot of players will have a wider range of possible outcomes, but it will be harder for lower-profile players to generate awareness.

I stated previously that Washington had the best chance among WVU’s prospects to get a buzz going and elevate his stock. Unfortunately, with no testing numbers available to show off, there isn’t much else Washington can do other than sell his college tape. The questions on his athleticism will hold him back, questions that couldn’t be answered.

His reputation hasn’t moved a ton since the end of the season, perhaps unsurprisingly. On most big boards, Washington shows up in the 400s, which is well out of drafting range (there are 255 picks this year). I have Washington at #388 on my own board, but I still think he can make a case for a late Day-3 pick due his length, man coverage/ball skills, and physicality. Those chances are low, to be sure, but teams take fliers on all types of players.

Projection: Priority Free Agent

St Louis Battlehawks v DC Defenders Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Kenny Robinson Jr.

I didn’t previously discuss Robinson because he technically left West Virginia during the summer of 2019. He entered the transfer portal (speculatively) due to academic problems and/or rule violations. Although he failed to land at a new school, he took the alternate route by going through the XFL. Still, Robinson played well enough at both WVU and in the XFL to make a name for himself, and he now stands a decent shot at getting drafted.

Like most players, Robinson didn’t have a pro day to put forth athletic testing numbers. Instead, teams will scout him based on what he did against “professional” competition in the XFL (and based on his WVU tape).

Robinson showed plenty of range, physicality, and length playing center field (free safety) for WVU in a Cover-2 or Cover-3 system. There was willingness to come up and support the run, but he did struggle with missed tackles during his tenure. Robinson shows more than adequate speed and burst maneuvering around the field. Top-end speed is not a necessary trait for a safety, either way.

As a freshman, Robinson was routinely put into off-man coverage as a corner, perhaps due to his length, ball skills, and West Virginia’s limited depth at the position. He played wide receiver in high school, so it isn’t surprising that Robinson routinely makes impressive catches and can otherwise track the ball with relative ease. His corner play offers him some versatility, but I don’t know if it’s his natural position. He should likely stay as a free safety in the NFL.

I suppose the question becomes: where can someone like Robinson get drafted? He’s a unique case, to be sure. If he had stayed at WVU, he probably could have developed into quite the safety prospect. Even without that time, PFF has recently mocked Robinson in the 1st round to Seattle. I think that particular idea is a tad ambitious. Seattle, however, is known for their draft volatility.

Most rankings put Robinson in the ~150th overall range. A lot of scouting services seem to overlook him because he isn’t coming straight from college. The aforementioned Brandt has Robinson at 141, while Pauline has him at 136.

I personally have him at 147 and think his draft potential is all over the place, but he’s more of a sure bet to get drafted when compared to McKivitz. I could see a case where a team really likes him based on tape (and a lack of a normal scouting period), so he could go as high as the second round. Having a bit of professional experience could give him a leg up on competition. That said, I think he’s most likely a late Day-2 or early Day-3 selection.

Projection: 3rd to 5th Round

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

Kennedy McKoy

Much like Washington, McKoy didn’t get much of a chance to get his name out there. Also like Washington, McKoy is listed well down most scouting boards. I stand by my original synopsis that McKoy simply didn’t show enough during his time at WVU to make himself a draftable NFL prospect. He’s late depth at a position that doesn’t see a lot of draftees. It is probable McKoy will get picked up as a UDFA somewhere, and he will have to try to make it as a role-player out of the backfield in sub packages only.

Projection: UDFA

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 03 West Virginia v Virginia Tech Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Rex Sunahara

Expecting long snappers to get drafted is always a long-shot (no pun intended). Scouting those same long snappers is an even more unsure science, at least from my standpoint. Rex has more than enough size to standout at the position. He is also an athlete having played basketball and baseball during high school, and he showed the speed to get downfield and make tackles on punt coverage, leading the team in that category. Furthermore, there were no blown snaps on special teams that I can recall.

He received an invite to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl which certainly would have helped raise his profile. Over the last five years, one long snapper has been selected in each draft:

  • 2015 - New England - Joe Cardona (5: 166)
  • 2016 - Detroit - Jimmy Landes (6: 201)
  • 2017 - Pittsburgh - Colin Holba (6: 213)
  • 2018 - Green Bay - Hunter Bradley (7: 239)
  • 2019 - Minnesota - Austin Cutting (7: 250)

That said, if there was going to be just one long snapper drafted this year, I think the money goes to Blake Ferguson out of LSU. Steven Wirtel out of Iowa State is also a possibility. Rex could catch on somewhere as a free agent, but it is unusual for a team to spend draft assets on this position, period. #508 on my board.

Projection: UDFA

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 05 Texas at West Virginia Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Josh Norwood

I think Norwood is in the same boat as McKoy above. He’s got a bit of versatility in being able to play both safety and corner, but he’s undersized and didn’t do enough to stand out on a West Virginia defense that played good and bad. I don’t see the type of floor or ceiling in Norwood necessary to get his name called on one of the three draft days. He isathletic enough, good short-area quickness, but very much a longshot to make an NFL roster. Not in my Top-600.

Projection: UDFA to Tryout

2019 Draft Review

As a bonus and for reference purposes, here is my same piece from last year after the combine. For some self-grading and accountability, I wanted to review how I performed in projecting where each of WVU’s players would get drafted.

2019 Draft Review

Name Projection Actual
Name Projection Actual
David Long Rounds 4 - 5 6th Round, 188
Yodny Cajuste Rounds 3 - 4 3rd Round, 101
Will Grier Rounds 3 - 4 3rd Round, 100
Trevon Wesco Rounds 5 - 6 4th Round, 121
Gary Jennings Jr. Rounds 3 - 4 4th Round, 120
David Sills V Rounds 5 - 6 Undrafted

Most of the players from last year were mid-round selections. Long fell back a bit further than I expected, and that’s at least partly due to a lack of a combine performance. He did eventually test at WVU’s pro day and the measurables weren’t spectacular (RAS: 3.3). Perhaps I overestimated his athleticism at the time. Long played in 14 games for Tennessee with 15 total tackles and a forced fumble, mostly on special teams.

Cajuste and Grier both fell into that late Day-2 sweet spot, which seems more than fair. Cajuste received a redshirt season with the Patriots and has yet to see the field (NFI designation). Grier, meanwhile, did see a couple starts last season with the Panthers’ QB room in disarray. Unfortunately, he did not perform all that well. The Panthers have since signed P.J. Walker from the XFL and Teddy Bridgewater from the Saints. It will be an uphill battle for Grier to make the active roster, but for now he is (mostly) safe as the third QB.

Wesco and Jennings went back-to-back in the 4th round. Wesco went a bit higher than I expected given the lack of collegiate production he demonstrated. However, it was likely his strength and value as a blocker that saw him garner such respect, a rarity in TE prospects these days. He didn’t show much as a rookie (two receptions on three targets), tight ends in their first year rarely do, but I expect he’ll continue to improve in time.

Jennings, meanwhile, struggled to see the field. He was released by Seattle in November and was subsequently scooped up by Miami. There he saw time in one game (9 snaps, mostly special teams) and promptly injured his shoulder. Miami’s receiving room is crowded, but it is a case of quantity-over-quality. Jennings can hopefully make his mark in time.

Finally, David Sills was one of the more perplexing cases of this draft. It turns out I wasn’t low enough on him, and I was one of the lowest prognosticators in terms of rating his transition to the NFL. He had an average board ranking of 153 before the draft, some expecting him to go in the 2nd or 3rd round. I’m not terribly surprised he went undrafted. He signed with the Bills but is now on the Giants’ practice squad. He’s a developmental prospect. For now, his upside is probably that of a 4th or 5th receiver.