LARAMIE — With the NFL Draft quickly approaching, the question still lingers: Will somebody spend a pick on Andrew Wingard?
At least one draft analyst believes there isn’t much debate.
ESPN’s Todd McShay said during a recent conference call that he’s convinced the former Wyoming safety will be drafted after getting a chance to watch Wingard’s film. In McShay’s opinion, Wingard may not have to wait until the draft’s final day to see his name come off the board.
“I actually was just putting together our book if you will, the rankings, and I wound up putting him a lot higher than I expected because I watched his tape late,” McShay said. “I think he’s a better player than people are giving him credit for. I gave him a fourth- or fifth-round grade.”
Wingard, a four-year starter at Wyoming, finished his collegiate career tied atop the Mountain West’s all-time tackles list with 454 stops — the most of anybody in this year’s draft class — but as a safety that played primarily near the line of scrimmage in college, there are still doubts about Wingard’s ability to cover in space.
Yet despite Wingard’s production and numbers he put up during pre-draft testing — he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.56 seconds at the scouting combine and improved his agility numbers at Wyoming’s pro day last month — most mock drafts project Wingard to be selected in the seventh and final round if at all.
Wingard is also a part of one of the deepest drafts for safeties that McShay said he can remember in recent years. McShay and fellow ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. had eight safeties being taken in the first three rounds of a mock draft they recently teamed up to do while Fresno State’s Mike Bell and San Diego State’s Parker Baldwin provide further safety competition from the Mountain West alone.
But McShay is convinced Wingard has the ability to make a 53-man roster wherever he ends up.
“I had him in the top 20 safeties, and I think he’s going to wind up being a good pro,” McShay said. “I think he’s going to be a really good special teams player early because he’s got some juice, he’s got that mentality, and he’s a really good tackler.”
The draft starts with the first round Thursday in Nashville, Tennessee, and will run through Saturday. Wingard and edge rusher Carl Granderson are Wyoming’s top draft prospects, though Granderson, who’s projected to go as high as the middle rounds, is facing charges of sexual assault and sexual battery that could affect his draft stock.