NFL Draft 2018: Weber State stars, other Utah college players hope to hear name called

Tuesday , April 24, 2018 - 8:14 PM

The NFL Scouting Combine has passed, schools have put on their pro days to show off prospects and the day of reckoning is here.

The 2018 NFL Draft begins Thursday, April 26, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas — home of the Dallas Cowboys and the first draft to be held in an NFL stadium.

Weber State has its best chance to see its draft drought broken. Five Wildcats were drafted from 2006-10, but none since. The last selection was receiver Tim Toone with the final pick of the 2010 draft.

As usual, the University of Utah has its share of likely draft prospects, BYU hopes to hear a name or two, and Utah State and Southern Utah could squeak into draft news.

Here’s a look at the top prospects from the state. Should these players not be drafted, most — if not all — should find suitors for contracts as undrafted free agents, setting them up to make NFL rosters with good camp performances.

Weber State’s Johnson, Vollert, Murphy impress in biggest Pro Day yet

WEBER STATE

Taron Johnson

Johnson, a 6-foot defensive back, was the first Wildcat invited to the NFL Scouting Combine since 2009 after being named a consensus First Team All-American and the Big Sky defensive MVP.

As a senior, Johnson played in 12 games at cornerback, totaling three interceptions, nine pass breakups and 49 tackles with three tackles for loss and two sacks. He also became Weber State’s career leader in pass breakups with 42.

His draft bio for NFL.com predicts his draft position in the fifth or sixth round, saying he’s likely to find a role in the NFL as a fifth defensive back on passing downs due to his size.

Among his strengths, the NFL.com profile lists: Burst to the ball is quick, possesses natural coverage skills, crowds receiver's catch space downfield, extremely aware in zone, and plays with good physicality and isn't afraid to tackle.

Andrew Vollert

Vollert, a 6-foot-5 tight end, transferred to Weber State after playing a year at San Jose State and another at a junior college. He was named an FCS All-American in both 2016 and 2017 for the Wildcats, totaling 123 receptions for 1,613 yards and 12 touchdowns.

He became an invaluable target for Jadrian Clark and Stefan Cantwell, especially in traffic and on third downs.

WSU’s pro day measurements were not made public by the school, but, according to HERO Sports writer Brian McLaughlin, Vollert’s 40-yard-dash time of 4.54 seconds and three-cone time of 6.76 both tie for the fastest among tight ends who were invited to the scouting combine.

His NFL.com draft bio lists him as a possible seventh (final) rounder. The analysis there lists his strengths as being a top athlete, having a large catch radius, smooth route-running, ability to catch bad passes and ability to find open space when initial routes don’t produce a throw.

McKay Murphy

Murphy, a 6-foot-4 defensive lineman, wasn’t on many radars before the March pro day in Ogden. There, he wowed scouts with a 40-yard dash of 4.81 seconds, according to NFL Draft Diamonds.

Legend also grew of his ability to complete 40 reps on the 225-pound bench press, an outrageous number. He hefted about 23 reps with ease at pro day before feeling a potential injury and stopping.

Now, he’s met with at least 20 teams, according to a report from the Houston Chronicle, and a Kansas City Chiefs beat writer has the Chiefs selecting Murphy in the seventh round.

He totaled 40 tackles, including 14 for loss, as a senior.

BYU

BYU’s best shot at a draft pick this season is star linebacker Fred Warner, who ESPN’s Mel Kiper says would fit as a third- or fourth-round pick.

Receiver Jonah Trinnaman’s ridiculous pro-day numbers have him appearing on draft radars. Trinnaman ran the 40-yard dash in 4.30 seconds, jumped 12 feet in the broad jump and had a 40.5-inch vertical jump.

Defensive lineman Tomasi Laulile and center Tejan Koroma may also be in play.

SOUTHERN UTAH

Linebacker Mike Needham totaled 100 tackles as a senior, including seven for loss. He’s the best chance for the Thunderbirds to be represented in the draft since defensive backs Miles Killebrew and LeShaun Sims were both selected in 2016.

UTAH

Since Weber State’s last draft pick in 2010, the Utes have placed 19 players in the draft — including eight last year — making it the clear choice as the top program in Utah to develop NFL players.

The Utes had four players invited to this year’s scouting combine: Receiver Darren Carrington II and defensive linemen Kylie Fitts, Lowell Lotulelei and Filipo Mokofisi. Given their talent and Utah’s reputation, all four are likely to be selected this week.

UTAH STATE

Cornerback Jalen Davis was Utah State’s best player in 2018. The 5-foot-10 prospect could find himself a late-round selection after running the 40-yard dash in 4.40 seconds at USU’s pro day. He totaled 11 interceptions in his college career.

Running back LaJuan Hunt is another Aggies prospect.

LUKE FALK

Falk, a 6-foot-4 quarterback from Washington State who prepped at Logan High School, threw for more than 14,000 yards in his college career.

NFL.com lists Falk as a fourth- to fifth-round draft pick with a quick, accurate release, quick decision-making, and an ability to throw catchable balls that hit receivers in stride.


Contact Brett Hein at bhein@standard.net, follow him on Twitter @bhein3 and at facebook.com/brettheinwrites.

Sign up for e-mail news updates.

Get the Standard-Examiner Advantage.
×