The NFL Draft is already underway, but for Kansas State players the fireworks are unlikely begin until Saturday. That's when D.J. Reed, Byron Pringle and maybe Matthew McCrane figure to be selected.
It's difficult to predict when a former college player will go in the draft (has there ever been an accurate mock?) but it's a safe bet that K-State's draft streak, which began in 1994 and leads the Big 12, will stay alive for at least another two years. Dalton Risner looks like a sure-fire pick in 2019.
This year, Reed seems like a lock. Pringle is a probable draft pick. And McCrane is a possible late selection.
K-State football coach Bill Snyder thinks Pringle and Reed could have bright NFL careers.
"Both of them have some staying power, because of their capacity to be well invested in special teams," Snyder said. "That helps anybody in the league. D.J., in particular, is a guy that is truly focused on his craft and how to do things and be fundamentally as good as he can. It doesn’t mean that Byron is not, but it really stands out with D.J. Their time here was brief, but I think they have a pretty good understanding of what it takes to have the staying power over time in the league.”
My best guess on each: fifth round for Reed, sixth round for Pringle, priority free-agent signing for McCrane. I bet we see a few other former K-Staters get rookie camp invites.
Now, onto your questions. Thanks, as always, for asking them.
Since the mock drafts are all over the place, what are your best and worst case NFL draft scenarios for K-State?— Justin Nutter (@JNutter) April 26, 2018
- D.J. Reed – third round. Lots of teams are interested in Reed, as he was one of the best cornerbacks in the Big 12 last season. That's the earliest he sees himself getting picked, so I'm not going to suggest anything better.
- Byron Pringle – fourth round. Chad Reuter, of NFL.com, thinks the Jacksonville Jaguars will take Pringle in the fourth. That's the highest I have seen anyone project him.
- Matthew McCrane – seventh round. There's a chance the most accurate kicker in K-State history gets picked late.
- D.J. Reed – seventh round. Good as he is, he is only 5-foot-9.
- Byron Pringle – undrafted. He's a different man now, but he does have a criminal past.
- Matthew McCrane – undrafted. Very few kickers get selected.
How low will the "so called experts" pick K-State to finish in football? Seems when there picked low they finish much higher.— Marcus (@KSU_LYNCH_MOB) April 26, 2018
Could be anywhere as high as second or anywhere as low as eighth. Oklahoma seems like the presumptive favorite, but after that there isn’t much separating the rest of the league until you get to Baylor and Kansas.
Here’s my guess (three months ahead of time) at how the conference’s preseason media picks will look:
1. Oklahoma: No Baker Mayfield, but Kyler Murray should be a solid replacement. And he will have lots of returning talent around him.
2. Texas: Is this the year Texas returns to the upper echelon of the Big 12? Maybe. Maybe not. But the Longhorns will get the benefit of the doubt in the preseason poll.
3. West Virginia: Will Grier, David Sills and Gary Jennings are all back on offense.
4. TCU: Not sure who the Frogs will pick to play QB, but they won 11 games last season.
5. Iowa State: K-State could easily land here, instead, but the Cyclones are coming off a breakthrough season and return QB Kyle Kempt.
6. Kansas State: Seems like the most likely starting point for a team that often gets overlooked and is breaking in starters at several new positions.
7. Oklahoma State: It seems crazy to rank the Cowboys this low given Mike Gundy’s recent track record, but they lost a lot.
8. Texas Tech: Red Raiders seem to finally be making progress on defense. Will that be enough?
9. Baylor: Should be better, but not good enough to finish higher than ninth in the preseason poll.
10. Kansas: Who else?
Which new coach or coach in a new position will make the biggest impact on the football team this year?— Steve Clem (@PvillePastor) April 26, 2018
We have spent much time discussing Andre Coleman and Blake Seiler in this space. This Friday, let’s shift our focus to running backs coach Eric Hickson.
A former K-State player, Hickson brings a new attitude and mindset to the Wildcats’ backfield. Both seem to be making positive impacts. He helped convince Dalvin Warmack to stay in Manhattan and, if the hype is true, bring along Mike McCoy.
The biggest change?
“Our reads and our mentality (are different),” running back Alex Barnes said. “Last year, we were taught more to stay lateral and kind of feel out holes. This year, if there is a hole there take it, get down hill and get what you can. (Hickson) is happy with four yards every play. That is something he stresses. You probably hear that from him on the sideline. He is always yelling, ‘Give me my four!’”
With former offensive coordinator Dana Dimel coaching the position, K-State running backs had more overall knowledge of the offense and how plays worked. With Hickson, the focus is simply on how to gain yards. That will have an impact.
Don't remember seeing it publicly.?.? Did Dalton Schoen get moved to Scholarship status ? Who is the next walk-on phenom we don't know yet?— Larry Ross (@BowTieMetal) April 26, 2018
Dalton was quietly elevated to scholarship status late last season, and he talked about it before the Wildcats beat UCLA in the Cactus Bowl.
That must have been one of the easier walk-on/scholarship decisions in recent memory. Not since B.J. Finney and Ryan Mueller has a walk-on seemed more deserving of a scholarship.
As far as who might be next, you don’t have to look outside Schoen’s position. Landry Weber, the receiver who led K-State in catches and targets at the spring game, seems on his way to a promotion. If he can get open in the slot this season, which I expect he will, there’s a good chance he is on scholarship at this time next year.
His older brother, Stanton, followed the same path.
How do you think the staff will use Eli Walker after some really good performances by some younger guys? Could he move to a new position like the nickel or linebacker?— KStateHighlights (@WildcatsGraffix) April 25, 2018
Walker is versatile enough to play safey and linebacker, but it seems like he needs to take care of some things before he can get back to making plays for K-State's defense. He showed promise last season, but followed it up with a silent spring. I didn't even include him in my spring depth chart. Word is he's in the proverbial doghouse.
He's got the talent to push for a starting spot, but he's got some work to do before he gets back there.
Has Kstate baseball peaked? Odds Brad Hill returns to coach next year?— Shane Frownfelter (@sfrownfelter) April 26, 2018
The Bat Cats reached their high point five years ago when they won the Big 12 and advanced to a Super Regional. They haven't been to the NCAA Tournament or finished better than sixth in the conference standings since. I wouldn't say they have peaked as a program, given that a few good recruits could always get them back to that level and even to the College World Series, but their current trajectory isn't headed in that direction.
K-State enters its final 14 games at 18-23 overall and 3-12 in the Big 12. It gets three games at home against Baylor, three games on the road against Oklahoma and three more games at home against Kansas in conference play.
Brad Hill could use some wins down the stretch. He's won more games than any other coach in school history, but he is also in the final year of his contract. Not sure what the odds are, but it's hard to see him back if the Wildcats remain in last place.