There aren’t any two ways to say it, 2018 and 2019 were tough seasons for Virginia Tech in the prestige department. The team fell apart between 2017 and 2018, leaving inexperienced Freshmen and a sprinkling of upperclassmen to play the 2018 season. The inexperience showed. So did the disappointing level of talent left. The 2019 season picked up a bit with the year of “thrown into the rapids” swim lessons, but not without having the coaching staff make some serious errors in player talent judgement. Neither season has produced any sort of draft potential for the largest of the recruiting impressions.
In fact, if it wasn’t for an early out, we’d have exactly no draft prospects. The reasons why Dalton Keene decided to forego his final year of eligibility are entirely of his reasoning. Some folks think that it was the rough dismissal of his mentor Charly Wiles. Some people have postulated that his role as a mult-back (hybrid Tight End/H-Back/Fullback) was unsatisfying for his professional prospects. We know how it all settled out for Sam Rogers. He was drafted in the upper “no guarantee rounds” by the LA Rams, and just never managed to make the team even though he showed every bit of the hustle that he demonstrated for Frank Beamer and Justin Fuente. He’s coaching his high school football team, now. That’s wonderful, it truly is, but it’s not a pro career. Maybe Keene just saw his pro prospects heading for the 6th round and a slightly better shot than a UDFL prospect? I don’t know, but whatever the reason he’s our only legitimate draft prospect this year.
The sad reality of youth and almost no one leaving is one thing, but none of the two seniors coming out of the program attracted any attention, and the two with the best undervalued potential are Reggie Floyd and Deshawn McClease. So we’ll take them in order from least probable to most probable shot at the pros.
Floyd’s time at Strong Safety/Rover/Whip was an up and down affair. He was always a good team guy, good leader within his class, and gave good effort. Reggie’s final season was an up and down sort of thing, though. His team work and leadership earned him his teammates’ votes for the return of the #1 jersey to the lineup. His pro draft prospects just didn’t develop, however. Reggie doesn’t pop up in the NFL.com Draft tracker, but if you take a look at The Draft Network writeup, you’ll see some things that might not set well with dedicated Hokie fans, but do resonate with Pro scouts.
There isn’t much to argue about in the write up. His leadership and team skills
don’t show up in the analysis, and he still needs work to bring his skill set up to speed. This puts Reggie’s best probability as an undrafted free agent (UDFL) for a pro team looking to work out special teams players. There is a good possibility, though that he could be picked up for an XFL team in the Winter/Spring. We see what that opportunity has lent to Cam Phillips.
Rotowire’s only listing are some statistics and the announcement that Deshawn was filing for the 2020 Draft. The result has been crickets chirping. McClease also doesn’t show up on the NFL.com draft tracker, either. McClease has also had an up and down relationship with college ball. He suffered an injury that proved difficult to rehab and received a medical redshirt in 2016. That time in the training room seemed to have a negative effect on his early use on the football field. It didn’t help that he was playing behind four different quarterbacks, three different lines, and several offensive situations. McClease’s best season was his final effort in 2019. He played in all 13 games. He ran for 843 yards at 4.8 yards a clip for 7 touchdowns. He also proved a capable receiver. Arguably the best thing happened for him when Hendon Hooker took over at Quarterback and allowed the Read/Option to actually work. With Hooker being a legitimate threat to run, McClease could be sent on slashing counters, and zone read slants against the grain. It was sad to see that he finally got to the level that he wanted to be, in his last season in the program. Maybe that’s why he flirted with the transfer portal.
The functional issue is; however, the NFL doesn’t seem to be too interested. Deshawn’s image on radar is that of a stealth fighter in the ground clutter. He might get a chance at a UDFL contract, but that’s really doubtful. His best prospects remain, just like Reggie Floyd’s to make an XFL team and show what he can do at that next intermediate level.
There is just nothing making the feeling that Keene has made a mistake by going out a year early. His performance in the Underwear Olympics was solid, but graded out as a 6.0, which is draftable/average. He is the only Tech player listed in the NFL.com prospect app. Whatever others feel about it, Keene still grades out with lots of developmental issues that will seriously affect his draft status. There just isn’t much to argue with on the analysis. There is not much doubt that Keene will be drafted (4th-6th round - IMHO) unless something really goes south, or no one is looking for a developmental tight end/H-back who can contribute immediately on special teams. He’s interviewed with several teams, and they’ve reportedly all shown positive interest. There is just the feeling that if he had stayed another season that he’d have had a better chance to show his ball skills, as the offensive line improved to the level that Fuente didn’t need him blocking. Maybe that’s just dreaming, and the Fuente/Cornelsen offense just doesn’t have much use for Tight Ends and intermediate routes. Either way, Keene is going to be sorely missed, but James Mitchell and Nick Gallo will fill his shoes on the field.
We will see where Dalton goes on April 23-25... Maybe someone thinks that he’s a steal in the 4th round? Maybe someone thinks that he’s a sleeper in the 3rd... but that’s a stretch. Be prepared to wait until Saturday on Dalton.
What round does Dalton Go?
This poll is closed
Nope - gets a UDFL, though.