Arizona Wildcats and the NFL, Draft or Otherwise


I started out this post planning to discuss what other news organizations were saying about where certain Arizona Wildcats football players might be going in the following three days in the 2013 NFL Draft. Matt Scott might sneak into Friday’s third round but will likely find himself drafted sometime on Saturday. No other Wildcats are likely to get drafted.

Mandatory Credit: Jim Z. Rider-USA TODAY Sports.

The fact of the matter is that this was a weak senior class, even by Arizona Wildcats standards. The last time Arizona only had one player drafted was 2006, when Kili Lefotu went 230th in the 7th round to the Washington Redskins. (The Cats had no draft picks in 2004 and 2005, which should give yet another picture as to just how barren Mackovic left the cupboard.) This year’s NFL Draft won’t be that bad (hopefully, for Matt Scott’s sake), but it won’t be a banner year either.

A better question might be which Wildcats will have a chance for at least a cup of coffee in the NFL other than Matt Scott, whether it be through the draft or through free agency. Former Arizona Wildcats have had success outside of the draft. Running back Mike Bell went undrafted in the 2006 NFL Draft but was picked up by Denver a week or two after the draft. Bell went on to play for several seasons for a few different teams. Future Pro Bowler Josh Miller went undrafted in 1996 but found a long career in the NFL, punting spectacularly in Super Bowl XXXIX for the Patriots. Then again, there are a lot more successful careers that start with the NFL draft, so these players should be ready to look for a career elsewhere.

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Taimi Tutogi is one of Arizona’s best players in this year’s draft. He could possibly find minutes as a fullback, running back, or even defensive back or linebacker. His problem was his production in college. Used, but not in ways that he could get ball touches, he just doesn’t have the number of yards or carries that a player needs to find a spot on draft day(s). Tutogi will get a chance, though, to play for a spot after the draft through free agency. If he does well and agrees to play whatever position he is asked, he could make himself a nice NFL career.

Dan Buckner is a bit of an odd duck in this draft. He would be a treasure to any team with an accurate QB who would not make Buckner dive or divert for throws. He has every bit the look of an every-week receiver, but it just always seemed like he would take plays off when he was in an Arizona uniform. We didn’t get a whole lot of a chance to evaluate him, starting only one season under Rich Rodriguez (and playing a lot of downs the previous year under Mike Stoops). He had to play under two quarterbacks. So we just don’t know, and that’s why he’s going to miss out on the NFL Draft. His game in 2012 just did not match his potential. That said, if he works hard and has good workouts, a team might want to take a chance on someone who only needs a little refining.

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Dugandzic and John Bonano won’t get drafted, but NFL GMs would be smart to give the punter and place kicker, respectively, a chance. They just don’t provide the sure value that is necessary to spend a draft pick on them.

Kyle Quinn is another Wildcat with a lot of versatility. A center by trade, he can play pretty much anywhere on the inside of the offensive line, giving him great value to anyone who needs help on the offensive line. He has the size and intelligence a player needs for those positions, and a team looking at Quinn will be quite impressed.

All said, the Arizona Wildcats are about to have a terrible draft. Scott fills the need of having draft picks in name positions, but before and after Scott’s name is called, we won’t hear the name “Arizona Wildcats” on ESPN or the NFL Network for the rest of the weekend. Perhaps we see in this the trouble that former head coach Mike Stoops had in getting elite players to Arizona. Rich Rodriguez has the added task of making sure that Arizona is a destination for future NFLers.