With the 2022 NFL Draft just eight days away, a number of UB football players are hoping to hear their names called on the weekend beginning April 28.
While this year’s UB class doesn’t have the star power of last year’s group — which included record-breaking rusher Jaret Patterson and third-round draft pick Malcolm Koonce — a couple of Bulls are still looking to seize the opportunity to make an NFL team.
Here’s a rundown of UB’s top prospects heading into the NFL Draft:
Class: Redshirt fifth-year
Wright is the most coveted prospect in this year’s UB draft class for a multitude of reasons.
To start, his measurables match that of the modern NFL linebacker. Wright recorded a 4.61 40-yard dash time and a 10’3” broad jump at the UB Pro Day in March. At 6-foot-3, 230 lbs., Wright has the versatility to contribute in both the run and pass games.
He thrived in coverage while paired with graduate linebacker James Patterson last season. The Bulls kept Patterson primarily in the box, which allowed Wright to roam the field on passing downs. Wright’s highlights primarily come in the open field, as his sideline-to-sideline quickness allows him to track down ball carriers.
UB’s use of Wright in the “overhang” position (a linebacker lined up in between the defensive end and the nearest slot receiver) also makes him an intriguing prospect. Pro Football Focus says that Wright “could easily qualify for the ‘wildcard’ spot in this class,” thanks to his ability to impact so many aspects of the game.
“The ability to cover tight ends or slot receivers or running backs who run 4.4,” Wright said when asked what he could bring to a professional team at the UB Pro Day. “That’s scarce in the NFL because everybody’s 245 lb. or 250 lb. and I’m 230 lb., so I’m able to run with the faster guys.”
Wright also displayed a nose for the ball during his time at UB. He recorded four interceptions, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries over a six-year career in the Queen City.
Last season was Wright’s best, as he recorded career-highs in tackles (49), tackles for loss (8.5) and sacks (2.5).
Expect Wright to sign with a pro team as an undrafted free agent.
Kevin Marks Jr.
Position: Running back
After three exceptional seasons (including a 1,000-yard rushing season as a sophomore) as the complimentary back to current Washington Commanders running back Jaret Patterson, the 2021-22 season saw a regression for senior running back Kevin Marks.
After multiple nagging injuries, Marks lost the starting job to junior Dylan McDuffie (who transferred this week to Georgia Tech) and rushed for just 414 yards and five touchdowns last season (both career-lows). The regression from pivotal offensive piece to rotational back isn’t a great look for the Norfolk, VA native, especially in a Group of Five conference like the Mid-American.
But Marks made a great impression on scouts at UB’s Pro Day, where he ran a 4.51 40-yard dash and looked sharp in position drills.
“Showcasing my hand tracking to the ball, seeing the ball and getting in and out of my breaks,” Marks said when asked what he wanted to show scouts during the event. “I’m showing my speed, showing that I’m versatile, too. I’m an every-down back.”
Marks excelled as the physical presence in a thunder-and-lightning duo with Patterson for three seasons, accumulating 2,621 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns over that time. While Marks struggled on the field and was in-and-out of the lineup last season, scouts will continue to look at his first three seasons as a reference for what he is capable of.
Marks was at one time considered a potential Day 3 draft pick, but he will likely have to try out for an NFL team as an undrafted free agent thanks to his poor recent showing.
Anthony DeCicco is the senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Anthony DeCicco is the Editor-in-Chief of The Spectrum. His words have appeared in outlets such as SLAM Magazine andSyracuse.com. In 2020, he was awarded First Prize for Sports Column Writing at the Society of Professional Journalists' Region 1 Mark of Excellence Awards. In his free time, he can be found watching ‘90s Knicks games and reading NFL Mock Drafts at 3 a.m.