For the second consecutive season, the Boise State Broncos were a missed kick away from making their case of potentially playing for a BCS championship.
While that didn't quite work out for the Broncos, quarterback Kellen Moore and company made some history along the way as they helped continue to elevate the Boise State program among the elite of college football.
Moore finished his career as a Heisman contender and is one of many former Boise State players looking to hear their names called by Roger Goodell when the NFL draft kicks off Thursday night.
It's doubtful that Moore hears his name called early. That won't be the case for many Broncos as they could likely end up with between six and eight players drafted overall, led by outside linebacker Shea McClellin, who could potentially be a late first-round selection.
I will have your entire draft coverage as it pertains to Boise State, so check back early and often to find out when each Bronco gets selected.
Boise State Players Expected to be Drafted
OLB Shea McClellin
RB Doug Martin
DL Billy Winn
DE Tyrone Crawford
S George Iloka
OL Nate Potter
QB Kellen Moore
Boise State prospects such as Kellen Moore and Doug Martin have received far more media attention than Shea McClellin. However, it's very possible that McClellin develops into the best pro out of this group.
While at Boise State, McClellin recorded 19.5 sacks and 32 tackles for loss, demonstrating his disruptive nature against the offense. His combination of size and athleticism gives him the versatility to line up at either linebacker or defensive end.
Rob Rang discusses McClellin's versatility as a possible linebacker prospect.
Proving much more comfortable than expected considering his lack of experience at the position, McClellin showed good diagnosis skills, quickly attacking gaps in the running game. He took on blocks aggressively, using his long, strong arms to quickly disengage as well as the flexibility and awareness to keep his feet free from the mass of humanity surrounding him near the line of scrimmage.
McClellin should have an impact in the 2012-13 season, as he's talented enough to be an immediate starter. He'll make his presence felt and his ability to get after the quarterback will make it tough to keep him off the field.
Even if he doesn't earn an immediate starting spot, McClellin should have a role as a situational pass-rusher. His explosive second gear will help him attack the edge and work his way into the backfield.
Analysis: A bit of a reach, particularly in a 4-3 system, McClellin can rush the passer, and get at one in a hurry with 4.6 speed. A bit light as a DE, will need to play on passing downs, unless he can stay on the outside as a linebacker.
Boise State's Doug Martin is a coach's dream. Hungry to learn, crazy competitive and an all-out perfectionist. Throw in the fact that Martin also happens to have boatloads of talent and you have a dream of a football player.
The 5' 9" 219-pound former Bronco has a compact build and is truly a complete back. Able to run inside and outside, as well as catch the ball out of the backfield, he is a real three-down back who will be able to contribute in every phase of the game.
What the Experts Are Saying:
From the Fifth Down Blog's Matt Waldman:
Martin does three things that a lot of N.F.L.-caliber runners can do: 1) Run through arm tackles, 2) Make subtle and sharp cuts 3) Burst out of those cuts and maintain that good acceleration for 15-20 yards. Martin demonstrates very good press and cutback skills, and he understands where the hole should be and how to hit it. He makes quick changes of direction in tight spaces while still getting downhill. His legs generally stay moving after contact in most any situation, and he’s usually giving defenders a ride as he goes for extra yards.
Shows some tightness in his hips and can learn to be more crafty running routes. Average hip power to clear through the first wave. Has been nicked with hip, hamstring and ankle injuries, and his hard-charging running style could always invite injury. Was contained by Georgia and did not regularly face top competition.
Martin may not be Trent Richardson, but it's quite possible he could end up having better production both in his rookie year and in years to come, depending on how he ends up being used at the NFL level. He is a true all-purpose back who should be a starter sooner rather than later.
Trent Richardson had been linked to the Bucs who were looking to find a compliment to LeGarrette Blount. The Bucs found that compliment with pick 31 and Boise State RB Doug Martin. A shifty back who will likely be a 3rd down option in his rookie season with Tampa Bay.
This former JUCO transfer joined the Boise State Broncos in 2009 and made an immediate impact, notching seven sacks despite sharing duties at defensive end. Crawford assumed the starting role in his senior season and made numerous impact plays on defense, highlighted by a 32-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.
Crawford was recognized as an SI.com All-American Honorable Mention in 2010, and followed that up with First Team All-Mountain West honors in his senior campaign.
Standing at 6'4" and weighing 275 pounds, Crawford has an NFL frame that can still continue to fill out and offer some growth potential technically.
Dane Brugler of CBS Sports praises Crawford for his "strong practice habits" and sees his strengths like this:
Coordinated with smooth movement skills. High effort rusher and works through the whistle. Relentless worker, fighting off blocks and battling to the ball carrier. Has strong hands and holds his own at the point of attack. Stout anchor when he plays low to the ground.
His weak points shake out like this, according to Brugler:
Not a quick-twitch player who will consistently threaten the edge. Has limited explosive qualities and lacks great initial burst or overall range for the position. Has a limited array of pass rush moves and needs to improve his technique in this area.Has only year as a starter at the FBS-level and was part of a rotation-heavy defensive front.
If Crawford can stay healthy and soak up the necessary instruction in training camp, he can thrive early as a rotational player, much like he did early in his Boise State career. He still needs to increase his strength and deepen his repertoire of pass-rushing tactics, but Crawford has the tools to be a productive end in the NFL.
Because of his unusual 6'4", 225-pound frame, George Iloka is a rare safety prospect. A converted cornerback, Iloka has experience in coverage and can be used in a variety of ways.
Iloka isn't athletic enough to have been projected as a first-round pick, but many saw him as a second- or third-round pick.
National Football Post wrote this about Iloka:
Iloka is a tall kid with solid balance for his size and has some natural athleticism and pop. Has experience playing corner and being a physical press coverage man. However, he isn't a guy who can quickly re-direct and close on the football in the deep half. He needs to play with his hands on defenders, but is a more coordinated bigger safety than say Seahawks starter Kam Chancellor and he could start at the next level.
As you might expect from someone of Iloka's size, the Boise State safety is excellent in run support. He is also skilled in press coverage and is capable of playing in zone.
Though he is a good athlete, Iloka doesn't accelerate quickly, and, as a result, he doesn't cover great ground. Still, his overall speed is good and Iloka can run with athletic tight ends and even some wide receivers.
Iloka's size and experience at cornerback make him a fit to cover tight ends like Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski. Few safeties can provide this type of ability, and Iloka's impact will be felt immediately.
Some projected Iloka as a second- or third-round pick so it's possible the Cincinnati Bengals got a steal here. Questions about his closing speed are likely to blame for the mini-slide, but his other physical tools fit the NFL bill. Cinci's secondary already has some good talent, so Iloka should have some time to develop into a useful contributor.
Having played defensive end in two schemes, defensive tackle and even some linebacker, Billy Winn is extremely versatile. The question is how good Winn is at these positions.
The 6'4", 294-pounder was productive at Boise State, but his skill set doesn't project as elite. Winn's aforementioned versatility, though, is rare.
The National Football Post wrote this about Winn:
Winn is a bit of a tweener who will get looks as a 43 DE, a 34 DE and a 43 one gapping DT. I think he's best suited to play 34 DE as he has the power to anchor on the edge and offers some pass rush ability as well. Either way, the guy looks like a starting caliber defensive lineman in any number of schemes.
Winn is a good athlete, and he is adept at attacking gaps and making plays in the backfield. He isn't so strong against the run, however, and struggles to shed blocks.
Though he possesses an explosive first step, Winn isn't a great pass-rusher yet. He has the ability to become solid in the pass game, but he needs further refinement.
As a rookie, Winn will probably see the field as a situational player. Just don't expect to see much of him on running downs.
Now it's time to see if that first step can still hold up at the NFL level. The NFL is a whole different beast than the Mountain West and WAC.
Nate Potter was selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft. More information will be forthcoming.