Y11 Notes: On the EMU's Draft Class
Sidy Sow, Jose Ramirez highlight EMU's senior class.
Y11 Notes: Friday, April 28
If I had to put my money on it, I’d bet on Sidy Sow being picked somewhat respectably high. While the Quebec-born defensive lineman turned All-MAC offensive lineman isn’t exactly getting first-round hype to go with his draft stock, there’s a lot to love out of the guy who ended up breaking Eastern Michigan’s record of games played (56) and started (54).
Sow got some early playing time as a tackle but later settled in at left guard. Sow, athletically, is one of the more fit interior O-linemen in this year’s draft class.
While Sow hasn’t shown perfect mechanics on a consistent down-to-down basis, he’s shown enough on film that he’s still a technically-sound player. His run blocking is liked more than his pass blocking, and that’ll probably end up being the reason he gets picked.
Mock drafts are everywhere on Sow. NFL.com has him going in the fourth round, 118 overall, to Washington. ESPN has him going in the seventh round to San Francisco. The Athletic sent him to New Orleans with the 146th pick (fifth round).
Since 2002, the year the NFL expanded to 32 teams, the earliest picks used on an EMU grad were in 2008 when the Tennessee Titans picked Jason Jones in the second round (54 overall), in 2019 when the Oakland Raiders picked Maxx Crosby (106), and 2009 when T.J. Lang was selected by the Green Bay Packers (109). There hasn’t been a draft pick out of EMU since Crosby, who will be going into his fifth season with the Raiders this year.
Sow was also one of three graduating seniors who were initially drafted into the USFL. Sow was a tenth-round pick by the Michigan Panthers, but he, like Jose Ramirez and Gunnar Oakes, turned down that opportunity to try for the NFL. Ramirez was a sixth-round pick by the Philadelphia Stars, and Oakes was a seventh-round choice by the Panthers.
Ramirez had a career worth never forgetting. He ended the 2022 season as EMU’s first-ever MAC Defensive Player of the Year and picked up some All-American recognition as well.
How great would it be if Ramirez ended the weekend as one of two EMU players taken in the same draft this year? It’s been a while since we’ve seen this happen.
To be perfect: the last time two EMU players were taken in the same draft was 1977 when Mark Carter (264-Miami Dolphins) and Jim Stansik (319-San Diego Chargers) were both picked. Those picks, however, were in the 10th and 12th rounds — those don’t exist anymore.
This year’s draft will feature 259 picks. The last time EMU has two guys picked within that rage was 1972 when four players were drafted total — Dave Pureifory (142), Will Foster (170), Larry Ratcliff (196), and Sam Elmore (325).
Ramirez, who joined EMU in the 2019 offseason to help replace the outgoing Crosby, is just one year younger than the two-time Pro Bowler. While Ramirez was uber-productive in college, there wasn’t anything overly-dominant to his game to make him more liked by draft evaluators this cycle. A good athlete that mixes up his maneuvers at the line of scrimmage to get past offensive tackles, and his speed off the line of scrimmage got Ramirez some attention during the East-West Shrine Bowl. Still, he stands just under 6’2”, and weighed in under 250 lbs. at the Combine. Ramirez is versatile and able, but he’s not going to get an NFL paycheck by being naturally better than whoever lines up in front of him.
Ramirez may end up being a late-round draft pick, but as long as Ramirez proves his work ethic in the league, there’s no reason why he can’t find a spot in the league.
Ryland knows he’s going to the NFL.
When I talked to him earlier this month, the once-walk-on kicker who earned his scholarship only after being known for his game-winning kicks at Big Ten schools knew he was bound for the NFL. He’s talked to every single special teams coordinator in the league, and then told me he could go anywhere.
It’s just a matter of where and when.
Ryland transferred from EMU to Maryland as a one-year graduate transfer. He left a MAC school where he broke (and tied) all-time records, then was an All-Big Ten kicker who out-shined the Lou Groza Award winner (Christopher Dunn of NC State) in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl.
Kickers, and specialists in general, are fun to watch for in the draft. Ryland, of course, is a name everybody’s come to remember ever since Mel Kiper put him atop his list of draft-eligible kickers. Maybe he’ll come second to Jake Moody from Michigan, or third to (I have no idea, you tell me), but I’m going to take Ryland’s confidence at sticker price.
He’ll definitely a name to watch for this weekend, but we may have to pencil his name in the record books for where/when he gets drafted. Ryland’s going to be recognized as a Maryland Terp when his name’s called, but the kicker himself will say he’s “EMU made.”
Ryland holds EMU’s records in career points scored (309) and extra points made (141). In 2021, Ryland recorded single-season records with 104 points scored and 47 PAT kicks made. In 2021, Ryland made a 55-yard field goal to tie the school record, then broke the school record for most field goals made in a single game with a 5-for-5 effort in back-to-back weeks.
Oakes had a lot of playing time before 2022, but not many starts. He stayed in Ypsilanti to develop behind Thomas Odukoya and Bryson Cannon to later be EMU’s full-time starter last year. The Swanton, Ohio native caught 27 passes for 279 yards last year. In 2018, Oakes made a one-handed catch at Western Michigan that landed him on ESPN’s Top 10 Plays of Week 6.
Even though Oakes was taken by the USFL, it’s hard to see where Oakes fits into the NFL outside of receiving a deal as an undrafted free agent. The Athletic has Oakes as its #49 TE, which is really the most information I can find from any of the major media networks.
Hassan Beydoun, Dylan Drummond
Beydoun was a huge fan favorite during his time with EMU. Who wouldn’t want to root for a guy like him? Beydoun was a local kid from Dearborn that joined the team as a non-preferred walk-on. From student in 2018 to special teams specialist to starting wide receiver in 2020 to All-MAC receiver in 2021, Beydoun’s career has been a ton of fun to witness from the sidelines. Beydoun was EMU’s leading receiver in each of the 2020 and 2021 seasons, and led the team in total receptions in each of the last three seasons (186 combined).
Drummond, unlike most freshman wide receivers that came before him during the Chris Creighton era, saw the field in every game his first year on campus — including two starts. Drummond was the team’s leader in receptions his sophomore year (55) when he also had Third Team All-MAC honors, was the second-leading receiver in 2021 with a team-best 6 TD catches,
The odds aren’t in these receivers’ favor this draft cycle, so it’s going to be a *fingers crossed* from this newsletter.
Powell’s a curious name to throw in here. Just one year with the team, but the impact he made seems bigger than that. He was voted as a team captain within his first couple of months with the team, and helped guide this Eastern program to a nine-win season and a long-awaited bowl victory.
Powell’s not a highly-rated player at his position for this draft class, so the grind for him won’t be defined by the first team that, hopefully, calls him Saturday. Powell’s career path, like many, looks like it’s going to happen if he works long and hard way.
Other, random notes
RB, Lew Nichols III (Central Michigan) — Is the former MAC Offensive Player of the Year on any team’s draft board this year? Production wasn’t there last season, but he’s still a great athlete that could probably have a promising future in the NFL.
WR, Quian Williams (Buffalo/Eastern Michigan) — The former EMU receiver who left for Buffalo is a guy I want to see make a roster. His game was enjoyable to watch, and he’s got the hands that deserve a shot at somebody’s rookie mini-camp. Admittedly, Williams isn’t my favorite potential WR to come out of the MAC, let alone his own team. If I had to invite only one MAC receiver to my NFL team’s rookie camp, I’d have to give Buffalo’s Justin Marshall a call.
DT, Desjuan Johnson (Toledo) — Johnson’s an interior defender that’s gotten a lot of love this draft cycle, I feel. Wouldn’t surprise me if he’s a Day 3 priority in this market.
DE, Thomas Incoom (Central Michigan) — Honestly a defensive end that would’ve gotten a lot more exposure if Jose Ramirez didn’t have his great season.