The 2018 NFL draft has come and gone with no players from Fresno State selected for a third year in a row, a school record that dates back to World War II.
Among the obscure schools that did have a player in this year’s 224-player draft – Humboldt State, Ferris State, Maine, Central Arkansas, Wagner, Delaware, Penn, Yale, Western Carolina, even Southeast Missouri State.
But Fresno State?
Bulldogs receiver Da’Mari Scott did sign as an undrafted free agent with the Cleveland Browns on Saturday shortly after the draft ended.
Other than that, Fresno State hasn’t had a player drafted since 2015, when defensive tackle Tyeler Davison went to New Orleans in the fifth round (154th overall), and safety Derron Smith (197th) and offensive guard Cody Wichmann (215th) went in the sixth round to Cincinnati and St. Louis, respectively.
Keep in mind this is the same program that had at least one player drafted 15 years in a row, and in 28 of the past 29 years.
That stretch of talent included five first-round selections in cornerback J.D. Williams (1990), quarterbacks Trent Dilfer (1994) and David Carr (2002), offensive lineman Logan Mankins (2005) and running back Ryan Mathews (2010).
Historically, the Bulldogs achieved clustered success in 1963, 1987, 1990 and 1994 when five players were drafted, and in 2002 and 2007 when four were selected.
How long will Fresno State’s draft-less streak continue?
It could come to an end next season with wideout KeeSean Johnson.
And there are more potential prospects in the wings, many of them a year or two away from the draft, including redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Netane Muti, sophomore safety Arron Mosby, junior linebacker Jeffrey Allison, junior safeties Juju Hughes and Mike Bell and junior cornerback Jaron Bryant.
Here are three candidates for 2019 …
KeeSean Johnson, WR
The senior wideout caught 77 passes for 1,013 yards and could go into the 2019 draft off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. That alone won’t get it done – Michael Gallup (Colorado State) and Cedrick Wilson (Boise State) were selected by Dallas in the third and sixth rounds this year, but only four of the past 10 1,000-yard receivers from the Mountain West Conference in the draft have been selected.
Johnson could beat those odds. The 6-foot-2, 202-pound wideout has a tremendous work ethic, continues to improve with his routes and was much more aggressive at the football last season, coming up with some highlight-film contested catches. He also had some of his biggest games against the toughest competition, last season catching eight passes at Alabama, eight in the Hawaii Bowl against Houston, six for 119 yards and two touchdowns against Boise State.
The opportunity to rack up attention-grabbing numbers will be there working for a second year with quarterback Marcus McMaryion.
Michiah Quick, WR
Quick has battled through foot and leg injuries since he enrolled at Fresno State last summer, but the former Central High standout was a 4-star recruit when he signed a national letter of intent with Oklahoma.
He played as a wideout and a cornerback at Oklahoma, working his way into the starting lineup after just three games making that transition in his junior season. Quick had eight tackles in a loss at Ohio State, two tackles and two pass breakups against TCU before suffering a knee injury against Texas in the fifth game of the season.
This season, Quick is expected to play in the spot that the undrafted free agent signee Scott occupied last year. Scott caught 57 passes for 566 yards and one touchdown. Quick also could get reps on the Bulldogs’ punt or kickoff return teams.
James Bailey, LB
Bailey has played primarily as an outside linebacker at Fresno State, but early in his career got some work on the practice field as a strong safety. He has those skills, and could be a valuable asset on special teams at the next level.
The 6-1, 225-pound linebacker has started 26 consecutive games heading into his senior season and had some productive games.
As a junior, Bailey tied for fourth on the team with 71 tackles. He racked up nine tackles, including seven solo stops, in a victory at Hawaii. He registered eight tackles three times. He also had 4.5 tackles for loss, two pass breakups and one forced fumble for the season.
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada