(TOM SCOTT’S COLUMN WILL RETURN TUESDAY.)
The NFL Combine never happened, and Boise State Pro Day is over. So the countdown is on to the 2021 NFL Draft, 13 days away now. Will the Broncos be able to continue their 11-year streak of draft picks? The top prospect is tight end John Bates, who’s projected to go on Day 3 of the draft, between the fifth and seventh rounds. We’ve seen such projections go sideways in the past (Ian Johnson in 2009, Kellen Moore in 2012). But Bates appears to be solid. Boise State’s only other candidate this go-round is Avery Williams, the kick returner extraordinaire who’s trying to showcase his Swiss Army knife skills in order to sneak into the late rounds. Tradition beckons. With 38 selections, Boise State has the most NFL Draft choices of any Group of 5 team in the 21st century, one more than San Diego State.
SO, LET’S MOCK IT UP
With that, the most prominent mock draft out there that goes all seven rounds is from Dane Brugler of The Athletic. Brugler has Bates going in the sixth round with the 192nd overall pick to (drum roll, please) the Dallas Cowboys. I mean that makes a lot of sense since the Cowboys are surely looking for a former Boise State Bronco to replace the retired Tyrone Crawford. Williams slips into the latter part of the seventh round in Brugler’s mock draft, going to the Green Bay Packers. Brugler has very few comments inserted beyond the first round, but he has one for Williams: “If the Packers want to improve on special teams coverages, drafting Williams (and his five blocks and nine career touchdowns on special teams) would certainly help.” Williams would welcome the opportunity.
NOT A BANNER YEAR FOR THE MW
It’s going to be a historically lean year in the NFL Draft for the Mountain West. The conference’s top project pick in Brugler’s mock is San Diego State cornerback Darren Hall in the fifth round, 165th overall. Amazingly, Bates and Williams are the only other two MW players on the list. It’s only one man’s opinion—and the conference drought may be affected by super-seniors returning for one more season. But, for example, wide receiver Warren Jackson of Colorado State and safety Tariq Thompson of San Diego State: not there.
SLOCUM’S NEXT STOP: VEGAS
Destiny Slocum made history last night, becoming the first Idahoan ever selected in the WNBA Draft. The former Mountain View star was taken by the Las Vegas Aces in the second round, 14th overall. Aces coach Bill Laimbeer is excited. “She can really talk basketball,” Laimbeer told KTVB’s Jay Tust. “You watch some of her plays, the moves that she does, you can see all the hours put in the gym when she was younger." Slocum led the Mavericks to the state 5A championship in both 2015 and 2016 and was named Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year each season. She then, of course, embarked on her successful college tour through Maryland, Oregon State and Arkansas.
MERRITT MOWS DOWN THE FRONT NINE
Two of Troy Merritt’s top 10 career finishes on the PGA Tour have come at the RBC Heritage, and the former Boise State star got out to a solid start in this year’s edition Thursday in Hilton Head, SC. Merritt is tied for 14th after firing a three-under 68 in the first round. He cupped five birdies over the first 10 holes. Merritt would be in the top 10 right now if not for a double-bogey on No. 14.
NO. 10 NIGHTHAWKS AWAY, YOTES AT HOME
Northwest Nazarene baseball has climbed to No. 10 in the new National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Division II rankings. The Nighthawks are 19-5 as they go into a a four-game series at Montana State-Billings today and tomorrow. Grant Kerry, one of the players cut loose last summer when Boise State suddenly dropped its new baseball program, keys NNU now with a .375 average and seven home runs. In Caldwell, College of Idaho closes out its 28-game home schedule with a four-game set against Oregon Tech Saturday and Sunday. It’s a must-win series for the Coyotes if they’re going to keep postseason hopes alive.
FINALE IN FLAGSTAFF
The finish line may have been pushed back a week, but Idaho has reached it in this truncated 2021 spring football season. And COVID-19 has made it an adventure. The Vandals, often shorthanded, didn’t have enough hands on deck for their scheduled game at Northern Arizona on March 13. It’ll be made good Saturday in Flagstaff, as the Big Sky set aside April 17 to accommodate such situations. Idaho’s fortunes against NAU may rest on who’s available at quarterback. It could be any one of four guys. A .500 season is hanging in the balance—the Vandals are 2-3.
THIS DAY IN SPORTS…April 16, 1996, 25 years ago today:
The Chicago Bulls become the first team in NBA history to win 70 regular season games when they defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 86-80. Michael Jordan scored 22 points with eight rebounds and four assists to lead the way. Chicago would finish the season 72-10 and would win the NBA championship in six games over the Seattle SuperSonics. The Bulls surpassed the 1972-73 L.A. Lakers, who won 69 games, for the record. The mark would be broken by the 73-win Golden State Warriors five years ago.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 FM KTIK. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)