By Shawn Spencer @Spencer_NFL on August 15, 2014
The Mountain West is once again loaded with NFL talent. The conference could have as many picks in 2015 as every other mid-major conference combined. That talent is spread throughout the conference as well, not just in Boise and Fresno. Here are five prospects to watch on the offensive side of the ball.
For the foreseeable future, all Nevada quarterbacks will be measured against former Wolf Pack QB Colin Kaepernick. Fajardo is the school's best dual-threat QB since the current 49er played in Reno, but that doesn't mean he'll be starting a Super Bowl anytime soon. A leg injury last year prevented Fajardo from improving on his 2012 numbers. Now healthy, he needs to regain the momentum from his sophomore year. Fourth round is his ceiling.
Ajayi has picked up where Doug Martin left off. He ran for 1,425 yards and 18 touchdowns last year. The speedster is also a threat to catch passes, although his blocking needs work. The biggest concern is his inability, or refusal to read blocks. It appears as if he has his mind made up before the play develops, resulting in missed running lanes. This can be coached, and with his raw talent Ajayi warrants a late second, early third-round pick.
Sambrailo is the only returning starter on the Rams' offensive line this year. The left tackle was a big factor in the success of QB Garrett Grayson and RB Kapri Bibbs. He has quick feet and should have no problem blocking speedy ends or linebackers in the NFL. The problem occurs when Sambrailo faces a bull rush from a stronger DE. Fellow CSU lineman Weston Richburg was drafted 43rd overall in 2014. Sambrailo should go around there as well.
Chuckie Keeton hasn't played a down since injuring his ACL Oct. 4. In addition, only one starter returns on the offensive line. Despite these obstacles, Keeton is a dark horse Heisman candidate. Before the injury, he threw 18 touchdown passes and only two interceptions. He has plenty of arm strength but hasn't been able to show it off due to the Aggies' style of play. Keeton needs to bulk up for the NFL, but could go as high as Round 3.
Receivers Davante Adams and Isaiah Burse are now in the NFL. Those losses should result in Josh Harper seeing more passes thrown his way. However, Fresno State opens the season Aug. 30 and has yet to announce QB Derek Carr's successor. The NFL has already seen that Harper is a capable slot receiver when paired with a top QB. He has great hands and is even better after the catch. He could sneak into Round 1 to a playoff team needing a slot WR.
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