Well, it's NFL draft time again and the Bulls are aiming to place yet another UB Alumni on an NFL Roster.
The most likely to go this season is cornerback Josh Thomas. Currently most sites are projecting him somewhere in the 5th or 6th round. Given his performance at UB's pro day and the NFL combine thats a fair, if somewhat glass half empty,attitude about his stock.
Where do I think thomas will end up? several factors involved:
NFL Draft Needs by team:
The following teams need a corner back in big way:
Tier 1 Needs: Buffalo, Houston, Denver, Oakland, Washington, Detroit, and Arizona are all teams that are in dire need of a cornerback.
Tier 2 Needs: The Ravens, Bengals, Steelers, Jags, Titans, Eagles, Bears, Packers, Vikings, Panthers, Niners, and Seahawks would do well to pick up a corner back.
Tier 3 Needs: Everyone else they don't really need a corner back but they may pick up a free agent.
What does this mean?
The tier one teams are probably going to get their quota of corners filled on day one, perhaps the early going of day two. It pretty unlikely that Thomas is a day one selection. If he goes undrafted there is a chance that one of the tier one teams may try to pick him up as an undrafted free agent just to get him into camp.
Of the tier two teams some will pick up their corners on day one, depending on who is available, but most have other pressing needs. If Thomas goes in the fourth or fifth round he goes to one of these teams.
The tier three teams might take a corner in the sixth or seventh though its far more likely that they pick up some undrafted free agents.
Where does Thomas sit?
I have seen him anywhere between the 15th and 25th best corner in the draft. Right after the combine and Buffalo's pro day he was constantly in the teens but lately he has been in the low 20's at most sites. SBNation's "Mocking the draft" has two comentators who greatly disagree on Thomas. One has him as the 22nd ranked corner while the other places him at 10 in the 2011 NFL draft.
Last season I 'split' the difference when I looked at who I thought would get drafted. The result were ugly so this season I am going to just stick with the worst case scenario. Trevor Scott, James Starks, and others are helping the reputation of Buffalo Bulls in the NFL but it will take time before mid round Bulls get the respect that some of the other college programs get.
So assuming that Thomas is somewhere in the neighborhood of 20. Based on past nfl draft results that is putting him somewhere between the fourth and fifth rounds. likely with one of the tier two teams.
Blue and white to the Black and Blue?
Just for fun lets assume that his is in reality somewhere between ten and fifteen. In that case he likely ends up a fourth round selection.
But this is where politics creeps in. There are some NFL teams that won't look a a mid major school during the earlier rounds of the draft. Sure once and athlete a talent will come out that they cant ignore but if you line up to completely identical players the guy from a non-bcs school won't get too much of a look.
Still there are a few mock drafts out there who have Thomas in the fourth to Detroit.
We know that Green Bay had a great experience with their last UB Draft pick and that the Bear's have UB Blood in their scouting department and were a hairs breadth from taking James Starks last season. On the whole the NFC North is likely to take six or more corner backs. If you had to pick the division he is most likely to end up in the Black and Blue division comes to mind. Living in Minnesota that suits me just fine.
Thomas Staying Home?
One Mock Draft I found recently had Thomas going to Buffalo in the 7th round. I would be surprised if the Thomas is around that long and if the Bills don't pick their corner in the first or second round but *if* the Bills are still shopping and Thomas is around Buffalo would be more likely that most teams to give him a look.
If, somehow, he goes undrafted the Bills may sweep in right away to sign him just like they did with Naaman Roosevelt last season. The Bills will almost certainly take a defensive back on the first day but they need enough depth to warrant a pickup.
One way or another Thomas is going to be on an NFL roster this spring, I'd put it at about 95% he is drafted onto one of them and about 30% he ends up in the NFC North.