On Thursday, the 2021 NFL Draft will get going from Cleveland, Ohio. Although West Virginia fans will probably not hear any names taken early in the first round such as Tavon Austin, Kevin White, or Bruce Irvin, there is still a high likelihood that at least one Mountaineer will hear their name called this weekend.
West Virginia’s Pro Day featured six players. Offensive lineman Chase Bernhrdt and Michael Brown, linebacker Tony Fields, long snapper Kyle Poland, wide receiver T.J. Simmons, and defensive tackle Darius Stills are the Mountaineers that participated in the pro day events. Although not all of them will hear their names called, all of them had a career at West Virginia that should not be forgotten.
Chase Bernhrdt is a lineman that is from Wildwood, Missouri. In 2020, he started in all nine games he played in at center, but in his career he played the guard and tackle positions as well. He played in a total of 33 games, and started 22 of those 33. His best statistic, is not allowing sack in all nine games played this past season.
Michael ‘Mike’ Brown is an offensive lineman from Compton, California. Before coming to West Virginia, Brown was at Eastern Arizona Community College, before coming to West Virginia in 2018. After redshirting in 2018, he played in 11 games in 2019, and 10 games in 2020. Brown played at right guard this past season and was one of the more reliable pieces on this offensive line for the Mountaineers this past season.
Tony Fields II has a high chance at being one of the Mountaineers selected this weekend. Fields is a Las Vegas native who transferred to West Virginia this past season after playing at Arizona. Fields was one of the best tackling linebackers in the country this year. Fields finished first in the Big 12 with 9.8 tackles per game, including recording 15 tackles against Kansas State.
Kyle Poland is a Morgantown native, and has been in the West Virginia program since 2016. Poland was redshirted in 2016, and did not see significant game action until this past season. In 2020, Poland handled snaps for punts, field goals, and extra points. He was named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team and played a total of 11 games in his Mountaineer career.
T.J. Simmons is a wide receiver from Alabama, that is one of the more accomplished Mountaineers in this class. After starting his career at Alabama in 2016, Simmons sat out in 2017 due to transfer requirements, but immediately made an impact for the Mountaineers in 2018. In his three years in the blue and gold, Simmons played 30 games- starting 21 of them. He totaled 1,197 yards, nine touchdowns, and averaged just under three receptions per game. Simmons was one of the most reliable receivers this past season and in only eight games, he led the Mountaineers with four touchdowns. He has good speed that could transfer to the next level, running a 4.55 40-yard dash at WVU’s Pro Day, and you could look for him to be a late round pickup, or be added to a roster after the draft.
Darius Stills is the most well known player coming from this Mountaineer team. Stills is from Fairmont, West Virginia and he started all ten games at nose tackle this past season. Stills was named a First Team All-American and he was named the Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year. Stills played in 43 games with the Mountaineers, starting 21 of them. In the last two seasons, Stills had 10.5 sacks, 40 solo tackles, and recorded one interception this past season. Stills is probably the first name you will hear come from the Mountaineers and fans should look for him to produce at the next level.
All six of these players had impacts small and large for the West Virginia football program. Even though they will all not get drafted, look for at least some of these guys to make it to the next level, through the draft or being an undrafted signee.
Many draft boards have Stills and Fields being selected in the later rounds of the draft, but it would not be a total surprise to see Stills be drafted in the third round or higher, as he and Fields both have a lot of potential upside.
The NFL Draft starts on April 29, with the first round, and the seven round draft will conclude on Saturday, May 1.
(Top photo from USA Today)