The next installment of the Draft Day countdown turns to Group of Five feature writer Ryan who will look at his three favourite Group of Five conference players to keep an eye outside of Day 1 in the draft.
If you are new to college football and wish to find out more about the Group of Five conferences, the Wikipedia page gives a breakdown for you.
It is often very easy to overlook players outside of the big conferences. Maybe it’s harder to watch tape, not as easy to grade players against different levels of opposition or the thought is they just aren’t the attractive picks?
Gems can be found in later rounds from less glitz and glamour schools that circle the National Championship.
The Three Prospects To Watch
Jake Haener, Quarterback, Fresno State Bulldogs
Haener is by no means the athletic freak you are getting with Anthony Richardson in this draft. But as a late round pick he represents great value as an intelligent QB. At 6’0 and 207lbs you could say that Haener is slightly undersized. His true value comes with his footballing brain. Scoring a 96% on his S2 cognition test (2nd highest amongst 2023 QB’s).
Haener uses his ability to process his progressions quickly and his ability to anticipate windows to make plays where some QB’s struggle. His arm has some weaknesses, as you may expect from a possible day 3 quarterback, but he recorded 53 Touchdowns and 12 Interceptions in his last 2 seasons in college. Haener is ranked 7th amongst quarterbacks this year. Whilst that may be a fair assessment, I do believe he holds some reliable and solid ability. Even if his ceiling isn’t All-Pro he can have a role to play in the NFL.
The Tight End
Zack Kuntz, Tight End, Old Dominion Monarchs
Kuntz is a monster tight end, no doubt about it. 6’7 255lbs and runs the 40 in 4.55. 10.0 RAS score, 120.1 athleticism score (2nd highest in the whole 2023 draft). Kuntz absolutely lit up the combine. This is even more impressive when you consider he wasn’t even supposed to be there due to a season ending injury with Old Dominion. However, Kuntz came back to attend the combine and deliver some of the most impressive combine numbers we’ve ever seen from a TE.
Ranked the #7 tight end of this class really underpins Kuntz actual ability and the raw talent he does possess. Whilst his blocking game may need some coaching he is still a mismatch nightmare for most teams. He is projected to be drafted in the 6th round and represents superb value in my opinion and with correct coaching could be a solid NFL tight end for someone.
Dorian Williams, Linebacker, Tulane Green Wave
This hard hitting Green Wave linebacker plays much bigger than his 6’1 228lb frame would suggest. He can explode through the line to make the tackle and stop his opposition in their tracks. Competent as a blitzer. Patient in coverage. Athletic enough to mop up issues outside of his responsibility. Williams is quite far down many big boards and potentially goes in round 6 or 7.
However, he really epitomises a low risk linebacker that could return fantastic value. Even in a worst case scenario you will be landing a guy that can perform at a competitive level on special teams Best case he can develop into a starting level linebacker. Don’t underestimate the ceiling of this young man.
There could have been other considerations but these are my top three players.
Ryan – Twitter: That_UKGatorGuy
Group of Five Feature Writer