The 2023 MAC-Only Mock Draft
A first-round mock draft of players graduating from the MAC.
The Ypsilanti Eleven is local, independently run, and is the only sports media hub on the internet (or anywhere) with this much coverage dedicated to Eastern Michigan. Your contributions will help pay for the year-round labor and improvements required to make this your favorite place to read about EMU and MACtion.
EMU FRIENDS & FAMILY: 75% off an annual subscription if you use an email address that ends with ‘@emich.edu’.
#1 Carolina: QB Matt McDonald (Bowling Green)
There are a handful of quarterbacks mocked in the first round of this year’s draft, but on a MAC-only scale, our options are pretty scarce. Might as well open this thing off with some fireworks. Carolina needs a QB, and Matt McDonald, who first saw playing time in the ACC as a freshman in 2018, has the experience that this franchise is looking for.
#2 Houston: DE Karl Brooks (Bowling Green)
Brooks has played in every game of his BG career since his true freshman season. That’s not easy to do on defense, especially considering this guy put on 60+ pounds to go from linebacker to defensive tackle over the years.
#3 Arizona: OL Sidy Sow (Eastern Michigan)
Relative Athletic Scores (RAS) aren’t everything, but for Sow, his grade might be the lottery ticket he was hoping for. Maybe his workouts are what’ll get Sow drafted sooner than Day 3. Sow, a former unranked prospect out of Quebec, Canada, played in 56 games (54 starts) and picked up three All-MAC season honors during his tenure. I don’t know if he’ll be drafted in the second round or the sixth, but for this exercise, he’s very clearly a top-5 prospect coming out of this conference.
#4 Indianapolis: QB Taylor Powell (Eastern Michigan)
Like I said, the QB market isn’t very robust with MAC grads, so you have to take one when it comes to you. Indy needs one, and now it has one: Taylor Powell. Powell, of course, had a strong November and December for the team and helped EMU capture its first bowl win in 35 years.
#5 Seattle (via DEN): DT Desjuan Johnson (Toledo)
Seattle needs guys who can dominate the interior of its defensive line, and Desjuan Johnson’s done just that at Toledo. Over 54 games played, he’s made 210 tackles, 47 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, and forced three fumbles.
#6 Detroit (via LAR): DE Jose Ramirez (Eastern Michigan)
The first MAC Defensive Player of the Year in school history’s gonna go to Detroit. Seems like a simple culture fit, and I don’t think Ramirez wouldn’t work his way onto the roster somehow.
#7 Las Vegas: OL Hagen Maservy (Ohio)
The Raiders probably really want a QB here, but it’s currently in a situation where it can’t run away from picking a First Team All-MAC guard in the top 10. But this might be the pick before the pick – we’re just setting ourselves up for a Kurtis Rourke draft selection by this team next year.
#8 Atlanta: DE Jamal Hines (Toledo)
I don’t know how many times Toledo’s graduated a four-time All-MAC recipient on defense, but Jamal Hines is one of them. Hines is a strong edge defender who has made a ton of plays for Toledo since he started 10 games as a true freshman in 2018. To show you the kind of range he has on this side of the ball, in 2021, he recorded 88 tackles, 10 sacks, and broke up eight passes.
#9 Chicago: WR Justin Marshall (Buffalo)
Despite being one of three MAC receivers to finish the 2022 season with over 60 catches, over 800 yards, and score at least 9 TD, Marshall was not an All-MAC selection. Awards and stats aside, Marshall was one of the best go-and-get-it receivers in the conference last year, and the big-bodied transfer from Louisville was difficult for undersized defensive backs to bring down by themselves.
#10 Philadelphia (via NO): WR Jayshon Jackson (Ball State)
Jayshon Jackson was the kind of slot receiver this team needed after Justin Hall left, and the Cardinals got a lot of miles out of this receiver. Philly needs some guys to keep the offense moving like it did in its Super Bowl run, maybe the former Cincinnati transfer can be just that.
#11 Tennessee: OL, Anthony Whigan (Akron)
Whigan landed himself on the Third Team All-MAC list in his one season with Akron after he spent time at Penn State. Initially, he was an unranked HS prospected who later earned a 4-star rating out of junior college. The top-end talent is there, and his run-blocking ability is what Tennessee would value in him.
#12 Houston (via CLE): DE Thomas Incoom (Central Michigan)
The final First Team All-MAC D-lineman is off the board. Statistically, Incoom’s 2022 season (57 tackles, 19 TFL, 11.5 sacks) wasn’t too far off from Jose Ramirez’s (66 tackles, 19.5 TFL, 12 sacks), and the Texans’ D gains a lot of versatility with both Karl Brooks and, now, Incoom.
#13 NY Jets: LB Zaire Barnes (Western Michigan)
The Jets need a linebacker who can move, and Barnes can be the guy who the Jets are looking for. The former safety was a team captain and First Team All-MAC player in 2022.
#14 New England: WR, Mac Hippenhammer (Miami)
Hippenhammer, another one-time Penn State player on here, caught 102 passes for 1,555 yards and scored 14 TD over the last two seasons with Miami. He was sturdy and reliable for Miami’s offense, but I wonder how much of his production could’ve been improved if he would’ve spent these past few seasons on a team with a better passing offense.
#15 Green Bay: WR, Shocky Jacques-Louis (Akron)
Jacques-Louis, originally from Pitt, has a ton of speed and versatility. The return game ability is a bonus for him.
#16 Washington: CB, A.J. Uzodinma (Ball State)
Uzodinma was one of my favorites to watch in the MAC ever since he got to college. He’s a tough cornerback to beat, and the talent has simply always stood out on the field.
#17 Pittsburgh: LB, Dyontae Johnson (Toledo)
The last time Pittsburgh drafted a Dyontae/Diontae Johnson from Toledo, it worked out. So why not go back to the well again?
#18 Detroit: WR, Quian Williams (Buffalo)
Williams was uber-productive at both of his MACtion stops, hard to see his talent not paying off here.
#19 Tampa Bay: LB, James Patterson (Buffalo)
Patterson was a great college player, but he’s got a lot to prove that he’s ready for professional football. In any case, he’s proved that he’ll work incredibly hard for his playing time at the next level.
#20 Seattle: LB, Ryan McWood (Miami OH)
McWood’s been a strong player for Miami’s defense when healthy. The sixth-year senior had 135 tackles last year with 6 TFL, 1 interception, 4 pass breakups, and a forced fumble.
Miami (Pick forfeited)
#21 LA Chargers: WR Yo’Heinz Tyler (Ball State)
Tyler’s been a difficult receiver to defend for MAC defenses and played a big part in Ball State’s 2020 conference title run. His production dipped lately, but there was also a dip in production by Ball State’s offense across the board, so it’s hard to put that against him. We also shouldn’t judge these guys by the box scores, and he’s obviously been one of the better athletes on the MAC fields since his freshman year.
#22 Baltimore: DL, Zayin West (Kent State)
Given the Lamar Jackson situation, Baltimore is the one team I can feel safe in saying I have no clue what this team wants to do for the draft. But when I think Baltimore, I think defense. West had a lot of responsibility as a defensive end in Kent State’s 3-4 setup and I liked what I saw of him in college.
#23 Minnesota: CB, Nic Jones (Ball State)
Nic Jones is another cornerback that’s earned his playing time right away as a freshman at Ball State, and his senior year really pops out on the stat sheet – 14 pass breakups to go along with a pair of interceptions.
#24 Jacksonville: CB, Ronald Kent Jr. (CMU)
Kent was a four-year player at Western Carolina before he spent his final season with CMU. Kent isn’t a huge guy (listed 5’9”, 176 lbs. in college), but I like how willing he is to deliver hits.
#25 NY Giants: WR, Dylan Drummond (Eastern Michigan)
Since the Giants locked up its QB, let’s give him a receiver to throw to. Drummond’s always had very reliable hands, and he was able to create more big plays in his final season at Eastern Michigan.
#26 Dallas: RB, Lew Nichols III (Central Michigan)
There’s no Bijan Robinson to bring home to Jerryworld in this scenario, so we’ve got to go with Lew Nichols, whose 2022 season was… not exactly what anybody expected to see (in a bad way). Nichols’ production in his senior year with CMU was a team effort, but his output truly was nowhere near what it was in 2021. The 2021 MAC Offensive Player of the Year went from having a season stat line of 1,848 yards and 16 TD one year to 601 yards and 6 TD the next. That said, I don’t think he lost the ability to play football at a high level.
#27 Buffalo: S, Tariq Drake (Ohio)
Drake’s a two-time All-MAC selection and recorded eight interceptions for Ohio’s defense since 2018.
#28 Cincinnati: S, Blake Bogan (Eastern Michigan)
Bogan’s senior year was unfortunately cut short due to injury, otherwise he maybe could’ve gone higher on here.
#29 Denver (via SF): TE, Christian Simms (Bowling Green)
Sims was a very productive tight end for BG over the last two seasons and we’re at the point in the draft where I need to consider taking the MAC’s TE1.
#30 Philadelphia: TE, Joel Wilson (CMU)
A former QB in high school, Wilson’s had a long and decent transition into the new position. He was finally a Third Team All-MAC selection in 2022 after he scored six TD in each of the last two seasons (22 games).
#31 Kansas City: WR, Shemar Thornton (Northern Illinois)
Thornton didn’t play in a great passing offense in his one season with NIU, so his stat line (30 receptions, 327 yards, 0 TD) isn’t an excellent read. Thornton’s a very speedy receiver whose frame (5’11”, 191 lbs.) is on the small-but-not-tiny side.