UB football is hoping for better luck this year after getting shut out of the 2019 NFL Draft.
The Bulls are led by offensive lineman Evin Ksiezarczyk, linebacker Matt Otwinowski and safety Joey Banks, who are all hoping to hear their names called during the draft, which begins Thursday.
This year’s event will be held virtually, as a result of Covid-19. All 32 front offices will be drafting from the comfort of their homes. While the event will still be televised, fans will see the commissioner and the ESPN crew on their webcams, instead of in a massive venue.
The draft is filled with plenty of high-end talent, starting with Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow and NCAA sack leader Chase Young. The Giants are picking fourth, the Jets have the 11th pick and the Bills don’t have a selection until round two, pick 54.
Last year, UB entered the draft with high hopes. Quarterback Tyree Jackson, center James O’Hagan, linebacker Khalil Hodge and cornerback Cameron Lewis were all rumored potential draft picks. But the Bulls didn’t see any players selected, much to the chagrin of the coaching staff.
This year, the Bulls have fewer stars in the draft, but they could still end up with someone walking across the virtual podium.
Ksiezarczyk is an All-MAC offensive lineman who started every game of the last three seasons. In his final year, he was named first-team All-MAC and played in the East-West Shrine Bowl, an all-star game for seniors aspiring to play in the NFL. He was an honorable mention for the Joe Moore Award, which is given to the top offensive line unit in the nation.
Otwinowski became a starter in his senior year, ranking second on the team in tackles and adding 3.5 tackles-for-loss and an interception. He was a two-time Academic All-MAC selection and a Wuerffel Trophy nominee.
Banks was a two-year starter for the Bulls after transferring from San Francisco City College prior to his junior season. He had a breakout game against Penn State in Beaver Stadium, where he racked up 9 tackles and a sack. He was named first-team All-MAC following his senior campaign.
Former UB wide receiver K.J. Osborn is also a potential draft pick. Osborn transferred to the University of Miami prior to his senior season, where he led his team in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He was one of the Bulls’ top playmakers during his sophomore and junior campaign.
Osborn is capable in the slot and on the outside, and has returned kickoffs and punts with success over the past few years. His “size, quickness and speed fail to stand out,” writes NFL analyst Lance Zierlein, but his ability on special teams might be an impactful skill that allows him to sign on with a team following the draft.
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