NFL Draft 2017: Top Prospects from Michigan MAC schools

Sep 4, 2015; Kalamazoo, MI, USA; Western Michigan Broncos wide receiver Corey Davis (84) runs though the tackle of Michigan State Spartans linebacker Darien Harris (45) during the 2nd half of a game at Waldo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 4, 2015; Kalamazoo, MI, USA; Western Michigan Broncos wide receiver Corey Davis (84) runs though the tackle of Michigan State Spartans linebacker Darien Harris (45) during the 2nd half of a game at Waldo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports /

Heading into the college football season, the MAC schools in Michigan will feature several draft eligible prospects that NFL teams will be keeping an eye on.

Recently, writer Lance Zierlein broke down the Top 10 draft eligible prospects at each position. These lists contain a who’s who in the college football world, including one player from the Western Michigan Broncos.

While these lists include the elite players in the college football world, there are still talented players not on the lists who will still hear their name called at the NFL draft. Including a high-profile quarterback from Central Michigan.

Western Michigan

Wide receiver: Corey Davis

Lance Zierlein ranks Davis as the #5 wide receiver on his Top 10 list:

"Davis is the active leader in the FBS with 3,785 career receiving yards. He’s just 403 yards shy of becoming the MAC’s all-time leader in receiving yards. Production is not an issue for this Bronco. Davis’ alpha demeanor on the field has helped him handle the heavy workload and offensive burden for Western Michigan. Davis is a QB’s friend, working hard back to the throw, and he has learned to free himself from press coverage with his aggressive hands. Davis does lack some suddenness in his routes and can improve his overall route running."

At 6’2 3/4″ 213 pounds, Corey Davis has NFL ready size. While most draftniks thought he was a candidate to declare for the 2016 draft, Davis decided to return for his senior year at Western Michigan. Now Davis will enter the 2017 as a contender to be the first wide receiver drafted.

In the CBSsports article above, Rob Rang highlights where Davis succeeds:

"Davis sports a tapered, athletic frame with a well-developed upper body. He is a smooth accelerator with a legitimate second gear to track down deep passes and changes directions quickly and with good body control.Frequently moved to create matchup problems for the defense, Davis has an advanced understanding (compared to most college receivers) of the flanker, splint end and slot responsibilities. Davis is a smooth route-runner, who incorporates a series of stutter-steps and shoulder fakes to generate separation. He tracks the ball well over his shoulder, shows the ability to extend and pluck the ball from outside of his frame and is generally a reliable hands catcher, overall. Given his height, Davis shows impressive agility and acceleration to elude defenders once the ball is in hands, as well as core strength and determination to break tackles."

Only one player has ever been drafted in the first round coming out of Western Michigan, Jason Babin (picked 27th overall in 2004). If he continues to develop his game in 2016, Corey Davis could be the second.

Interior offensive line: Taylor Moton

A three-year starter (38 games) at right guard and tackle, Moton enters his fourth-year looking to add to those numbers. At 6’5″ 328 pounds, Moton is best suited to play inside at guard in the NFL. ranks Moton as their 11th best senior guard and he will have a chance to move up the list this season.

With the departure of Willie Beavers (selected in the fourth round in last year draft), Taylor Moton will now be looked at to lead Western Michigan’s offensive line whose rushing attack was 29th in the nation last year. Moton was named to last years All-MAC team as well as earning his second Academic All-MAC team selection.

Central Michigan

Quarterback: Cooper Rush

Cooper Rush is headed into his fourth season as Central Michigan’s starting quarterback. In each season, Rush’s completion percentage improved, from his first year of 56.7%, to 63.6% and 66.3% in 2015 when he was named to the All-MAC second team.

As one of the most experienced quarterback in college football, Cooper Rush finds himself in the discussion on most top senior quarterback lists, including being ranked number five on list.

Mark Schofield of Inside the Pylon broke down Cooper Rush’s skill set:

"Rush has the arm strength to challenge narrow throwing windows over the middle or attack the sidelines on out routes or comebacks. He throws well on the move, and the Chippewas designed a number of rollouts or bootlegs to take advantage of this ability. He is also experienced operating under center, as well as in the pistol or shotgun. He’ll need to clean up his footwork on drops in the pocket, but is athletic enough to extend plays with his feet or pick up yardage running the football. Rush and the Chippewas will get a tough early test on the road against Rudolph and Oklahoma State, but, with a strong senior campaign, he should find himself in contention for a spot in Mobile (Senior Bowl) next January."

Defensive Back: Tony Annese

Senior free safety, Tony Annese has been named to the Thorpe Award preseason list for the second consecutive season. Annese held down the Chips secondary last year with Kavon Frazier who was selected by the Dallas cowboys in the 6th round of the NFL draft. Now Annese will be expected to take on more responsibility and will be looked at as a defensive leader. With a successful senior campaign, Annese could rise up draft boards and follow a similar path like his former teammate.

Next: NFL Draft 2017: Top Prospects from Michigan

This list was limited to only a few top players in the MAC schools located in Michigan. Like most small conferences, there is plenty of talent that is not on the national radar right now. So expect this list to grow as players play themselves into the draft conversation this fall.