QB Dwight Dasher is one of several MTSU players in the NFL draft this year. (Photo by Jay Bailey)
Despite a looming hold out in the NFL, some of the top college football players from across the nation have gathered in Indianapolis this weekend for the scouting combine.
The combine gives owners, general managers and scout for NFL teams a chance to look at some of the raw skills of potential draftees.
It gives fans a chance to speculate for weeks about who will be drafted at each position and ultimately get it completely wrong.
You will not find any Blue Raiders in attendance, but that doesn't mean you should disregard any and all possibility of Middle Tennessee alumni making it to the professional level.
Having recently watched Erik Walden win a Super Bowl as a member of the Green Bay Packers, there are plenty of reasons to believe in the Raiders.
The top rated prospect out of Middle Tennessee according to ESPN.com is safety Kevin Brown.
Brown is ranked by CBS Sports as the number 18 strong safety in the 2011 draft class. Brown stands at 6'1", 210 lbs and runs a 4.58 forty-yard dash time. He was also responsible for 71 tackles, one interception and five pass deflections as a senior at MTSU.
Next is another safety from the university, Jeremy Kellem. Kellem, 5'10" and 190 lbs, runs a 4.53 forty time.
He accounted for 105 tackles and two interceptions in his senior year and is ranked 19 among free safeties.
Standing at 6'2" and 218 lbs is outside linebacker prospect Jamari Lattimore. He led the team in tackles for a loss, 15, and sacks, 11.5.
Lattimore was the Sun Belt's Defensive Player of the Year and is ranked 32 among outside linebacker prospects according to CBS.
Finishing out the defensive side of things for the Raiders is cornerback Rod Isaac. Isaac had three interceptions and a fumble recover for two touchdowns on the season.
Isaac is the number 49 corner. He runs a 4.54 forty and stands at 5'11".
Entering the season, any and all professional hype surrounded quarterback Dwight Dasher after a junior season where he threw for 2,789 yards and 23 touchdowns while running for 1,154 yards and 13 touchdowns.
In his junior season Dasher threw only 14 interceptions. However, Dasher saw nearly all draft stock disappear in a senior year that 18 interceptions to only six passing touchdowns and a four-game suspension that resulted from violating NCAA rules.
Dasher is now ranked 47 among running backs, not quarterbacks, in the 2011 draft class.
Any team looking at Dasher now would likely be interested in his potential as a wildcat-type player to experiment with.
Rounding out the Raiders' class is running back Phillip Tanner. Tanner ran for nearly 1,000 yards on 5.8 yards per carry for Middle his senior year and was arguably the team's most consistent player.
Tanner ranks fifth in Middle Tennessee for touchdowns and rushing touchdowns. What hurts Tanner's stock is that he missed nearly all of the 2009 season with a knee injury.
You may not hear any of these names called on draft day, but if you pay attention in late rounds or to undrafted free agent signings you may be surprised.
There is no telling what will happen in the days ahead with the uncertainty looming over the NFL and whatever these Raiders end up doing, fans will surely be rooting for them. MP