LOCALS IN THE NFL

Several Former College Stars From Utah Could Be Drafted On Day 2

Apr 26, 2019, 2:44 PM
Northwestern Wildcats quarterback Clayton Thorson is sacked by Utah Utes defensive back Corrion Bal...
Northwestern Wildcats quarterback Clayton Thorson is sacked by Utah Utes defensive back Corrion Ballard (15) and linebacker Cody Barton (30) during NCAA football at the Holiday Bowl in San Diego on Monday, Dec. 31, 2018. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)
(Ravell Call, Deseret News)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Day 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft is in the books. The story of the day was the first overall selection of former Oklahoma quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray by the Arizona Cardinals. In the first round, no local stars from the Beehive State were taken but that could change on Day 2 in either the second or third round.

It would be a stretch for a former local star to be taken in the second round, but going in the third round could be a possibility for a few former Utes, Cougars and Aggies.

Blair, Barton Considered Top Ute Prospects

Former Utah safety Marquise Blair probably has the best shot of being the first college player from the state of Utah to be picked in this year’s draft.

According to NFL.com’s prospect grading system, Blair’s grade of 5.71 says he has a chance to become a starter in the NFL. In his playing days with the Utes, Blair earned a reputation for being an aggressive hard-hitter in the open field while patrolling Utah’s defesnsive backfield.

On a couple of occasions, Blair’s tackling style got him in trouble as he was called for a targeting penalties and ejected from a few games. However, most experts seem to see his full-throttle mentality as a plus for NFL scouts.

Fellow Ute Cody Barton has also caught the attention of NFL scouts, who see him as a potentially impactful backup or special teams players. His projections are a bit fuzzier. Some draft experts, like NFL.com’s Gil Brandt, have Barton rated as high as the 77th overall prospect in the draft, while others, like Lance Zeirlein, also of NFL.com, have him in the late 200s.

Barton was honored as an honorable mention selection on the 2019 All-Pac-12 team.

Scouts Like Raymond’s Size, Ability

Former Utah State tight end Dax Raymond could also hear his name called on Day 2 of the Draft, but will need his stock to rise quickly for that to happen. Raymond, who played wide receiver at Timpview High, has drawn praise for his pass-catching ability and it is hoped that he’ll develop into an effective run blocker. That said, most mock drafts have in going on Day 3, in the fourth round.

Raymond submitted his name in the draft pool following his junior year at Utah State. He told KSL Sports last week that it was a tough decision, but also the right call for himself personally.

“I loved Utah State so much, it was so much fun. It was really hard to think maybe I’ve leaving my friends behind. But I think anyone that was in my situation would do the same thing knowing that this has been a dream since I can remember. If I have an opportunity to go for it, I’m going to go for it,” said Raymond in a one-on-one interview with KSL Sports’ Jeremiah Jensen.

Takitaki Favored By Kiper Jr.

Linebacker Sione Takitaki, formerly the defensive centerpiece for BYU, is the most likely Cougar to hear his name called in the NFL Draft. He led BYU with 119 tackles in the 2018 season and showed real growth as a leader on the team.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. is high on Takitaki, projecting him to go to the Baltimore Ravens with the final pick of the third round. Other experts have him going in later rounds. Like most projections in the NFL Draft, it’s really up in the air where he’ll go.

Broadcast Info

Rounds 2 and 3 of the NFL Draft from Nashville, Tennessee will begin Friday at 5 p.m. and be broadcast on ESPN.

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