We previously recapped the Mountaineers participating in the NFL combine. And then we predicted Mountaineers’ prospects draft positions. Now, the 2019 NFL Draft is officially in the books. How did the Mountaineers fare in the draft? And how did we do in our predictions?
West Virginia Mountaineers: In The Draft
Prediction vs. Reality
We predicted that six Mountaineers would be selected in the draft and that two would likely sign as undrafted free agents. In reality, NFL teams drafted five Mountaineers and signed three more Saturday evening.
We predicted that Will Grier would find his new home in the second round, with a possible surprise landing in the first round. We were off by a round here, as the Carolina Panthers called Grier in the third round with the 100thpick. Most pundits picked Grier to fall to the third round, so no real surprise here.
We also predicted that a team would draft Yodny Cajuste in the third round. Indeed, the Patriots drafted Cajuste in the third round with the 101stpick. Next, we predicted David Sills would hear his name in the third round. Unfortunately, we missed on this prediction as Sills fell out of the draft entirely. Instead, he signed as an undrafted free agent with the Buffalo Bills. This was one of the bigger surprises of the draft.
Ball-hawk David Long, on the other hand, went closer to where we expected. He was selected in the fifth round by the Tennessee Titans, while we predicted he would hear his name in the fifth round. Next, we predicted that wideout Gary Jennings would be selected somewhere between the late-third and mid-fourth rounds of the draft. Right on schedule, the Seattle Seahawks selected Jennings in the middle of the fourth.
With the very next pick in the draft, the Jets selected Trevon Wesco. He represented the most favorable surprise for the Mountaineers. Most pundits predicted Wesco would be drafted in the late sixth of seventh round, if at all. We took a more optimistic view and predicted Wesco to come off the board in the fifth round.
Finally, we predicted both Kenny Bigelow and Dravon Askew-Henry would sign as undrafted free agents on draft day. Indeed, the New Orleans Saints signed Bigelow. And the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Askew-Henry. Toyous Avery joins Jennings in Seattle as he, too, signed as an undrafted free agent with the Seahawks. All in all, our predictions panned out well.
How This Compares
Compared to its conference mates, the Mountaineers performed well in the draft. Only the Oklahoma Sooners, with eight, saw more than the five players West Virginia had drafted. TCU was the next-highest with three. Iowa State, Kansas State, Texas, and Oklahoma State all sent two to the NFL through the draft. Texas Tech and Baylor sent one, while Kansas sent none.
West Virginia has only finished in the top three in recruiting rankings once since joining the Big 12. Indeed, the Mountaineers have finished fifth in recruiting ranking in the conference since joining. Thus, by sending the second-most players to the NFL, the Mountaineers prove yet again that the blue-collar mentality frequently yields better results than the “experts” predict.
Historically, teams drafted five or more Mountaineers in the equivalent of the modern draft format (254 selections) seven other times. And this is only the second time since 2000 that teams drafted at least five. The 1989 NFL draft stands as the most productive for the Mountaineers when teams selected seven Mountaineers within the first 254 picks. In total, NFL teams have drafted 203 Mountaineer players since 1936.