2022 NFL Draft: The Best of the Rest of the Mountain West Prospects By School
Harry Ballard III spent one year with the Wolf Pack after stops at Missouri and Arkansas-Pine Bluff, but found opportunities hard to come by in a deep group of pass catchers, hauling in just six passes in eight games. The upside? He averaged 21.2 yards per catch and scored twice, burnishing a reputation as someone who could stretch the field; in 2019 at UAPB, he averaged 18 yards per catch. His straight line speed isn’t what you’d expect (4.61 40-yard time at Nevada’s pro day), but the results speak for themselves.
Nate Cox arm lookin’ real niceeeee & Harry Ballard’s catch…🥵
Insurance points on the board for the Pack late in the 4th. #BattleBorn
— Nevada Sports Net (@NevadaSportsNet) September 12, 2021
Punting in a conference that boasts Matt Araiza and Ryan Stonehouse feels like an unenviable task, but the left-footed Julian Diaz more than held his own: In two seasons as the Wolf Pack’s punter, he averaged 45.3 yards per punt. He also handled kickoffs and improved on that front from 2020 to 2021, as well, improving his touchback rate from 51.4% to 64.2% (second to Araiza among Mountain West specialists in both years). He doesn’t have the accolades of his more famous conference peers, but Diaz has the leg to compete if invited to a minicamp.
Julian Diaz boots a 71-yard punt to the 1.
— Nevada Football (@NevadaFootball) October 25, 2020
Lawson Hall grew into a leader off and on the field during his time with Nevada, spearheading the creation of a video in support of the Black Lives Matter movement back in 2020 and then earning a nod as team captain in 2021. In all, he was a three-year starter for the Wolf Pack who raised his game as a run stopper (15 tackles for loss in the last two years) and has the intangibles to be a positive influence and tone setter in the NFL.
If a NFL team is looking for big bodies to fill out the offensive line, Jermaine Ledbetter is a name to watch. Standing at 6-3 and 325 pounds, Ledbetter spent two years as a starter at guard for the Wolf Pack but may need to be mindful of being too big to play inside in the NFL. By contrast, Tyler Orsini might be too small (6-2, 295 pounds, 28 3/4-inch arms) to play center at the highest level; a 1.96 10-yard split at Nevada’s pro day probably doesn’t help, either.
Tristan Nichols was a breakout performer on Nevada’s defense in 2021, making the lives of opposing quarterbacks miserable week in and week out and finishing the year as one of just three Mountain West defenders with ten sacks. With an unrelenting motor and a knack for getting into the backfield, Nichols could have the tools in place to be a pass-rushing specialist.
TRISTAN NICHOLS IS BRINGING THE 🔨!
— Nevada Football (@NevadaFootball) October 2, 2021
What cornerback Berdale Robins lacks in size (5-8, 184 pounds), he more than makes up for with fearlessness and tenacity, solidifying his standing as one of the Mountain West’s best cover corners in 2021 with three interceptions and four pass breakups. While it’s most likely that he’s assigned to the slot if he can crack a NFL roster, he could thrive there as a defender unafraid to get physical with the press.
— Nevada Football (@NevadaFootball) November 7, 2021
Kameron Toomer was something of an unsung hero on Nevada’s defensive line, but while the traditional stat sheet doesn’t scream playmaker, he was about as effective at winning in pass rush situations in 2021 as Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux. You may not have noticed, but NFL scouts probably did.
— Nevada Football (@NevadaFootball) March 21, 2022