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Murray's Mailbag: Will the Nevada football team make history in 2022 NFL draft?

Carson Strong
Carson Strong leads a potentially strong 2022 draft class for Nevada. (David Calvert/Nevada athletics)

We had a good mix of questions in this week's Monday Mailbag, so let's get straight to them. Thanks, as always, for the inquiries.

(Note: If you're not seeing the tweets, it's because you're not using Google Chrome. Use Google Chrome.)

I bring down the average beauty score in my family, but I'm going to say, "No!"

Vote Chris Taylor for All-Star!

The Wolf Pack football record for draft picks in one year is four in 2012 when James-Michael Johnson (fourth round), Brandon Marshall (fifth), Isaiah Frey (sixth) and Rishard Matthews (seventh) were all picked. Nevada also has had five years in which it had three draft picks. So the 2022 NFL draft could be a historic one for Nevada. I'd set the over/under on Wolf Pack draft picks next year at 3.5. Barring injuries, QB Carson Strong, WR Romeo Doubs and TE Cole Turner should be drafted (worth noting all will have at least one year of eligibility remaining and could return to school). WR Elijah Cooks, DT Dom Peterson, DE Sam Hammand, RB Toa Taua, LB Lawson Hall and CB Berdale Robins also could be in the mix. My guess is Nevada has a three-pick draft in 2022, although four isn't out of the question.

Nevada strength and conditioning coach Jordon Simmons serves as a conduit between NFL scouts and the Wolf Pack football team. We had him on NSN Daily earlier this month and asked about the NFL interest this year compared to previous years.

"In terms of the scouts, it's exponentially more than it's been," Simmons said. "I get a lot more questions. I think we'll have a record crowd here for pro day. You'll see a lot of buzz around them, and it's warranted. It's legitimate buzz that they've earned, and I'm excited to see what they do in the future."

No. If you have a successful coach, there are going to be threats every year. Look at former Nevada baseball coach Jay Johnson leaving Arizona for LSU. Arizona is a great baseball program. And even the Wildcats have to worry about their coach getting poached. I do agree Coach Norvell's best chance to get a Power 5 offer will come after this season because there's a chance he loses Strong, Doubs, Turner, et al., entering 2022. This is the year to strike. But if he doesn't get a Power 5 offer after this season, that doesn't mean one will never come.

It's one of Boise State, Cincinnati and UCF. I feels like UCF might have already peaked after going 25-1 from 2017-18. Since then, the Knights are 16-7, although this offseason's hire of Gus Malzahn is a strong one. I'm just not sure how long he stays if he has success. You can't go wrong with Boise State, which has won at least 10 games 16 times since 2000. Its worst record during that period was 8-5 in 2013. You can almost lock in double-digit wins year in and year out, so the Broncos are the safe bet. But I'll take Cincinnati, which seems set up for success under Luke Fickell, who is 31-6 the last three seasons. Playing in the AAC gives the Bearcats a little more margin for error compared to Boise State in making the New Year's Six (and potentially an expanded 12-team College Football Playoff).

At wide receiver, I'm taking Trevor Insley and Nate Burleson if we're considering college peak only. My top backup would be Rishard Matthews, who I considered as a starter. If Matthews played on pass-first teams like Insley and Burleson, he would have put up ridiculous college numbers. He's a huge reason why Nevada beat Boise State and Boston College in 2010.

At running back, I'll take Vai Taua over Toa Taua, but Vai was blessed with a much better offensive line and paired with a dynamic running quarterback, so that's not really fair to Toa, who hasn't had either of those things. Toa would have put up better numbers playing with that 206-10 roster, too. As is, Nevada is still looking for its first 1,000-yard running back under Jay Norvell. Toa Taua should hit the mark this season.

Nevada has announced only one non-conference addition, that being the Crossover Classic in Sioux Falls, S.D., where the Wolf Pack will play Washington, George Mason and South Dakota State (none of those teams reached the postseason last year and Washington was 5-21). Those games will be played Nov. 22-24 at The Sanford Pentagon.

In addition to the Crossover Classic, I'd expect Nevada to play games against Grand Canyon (home), San Diego (home), San Francisco (road), North Texas (road), Texas Arlington (road) and Santa Clara (road). Those were all part of previous contracts. Given the COVID-19 impact, some of those games might be moved off the schedule, so things are flexible (for example, Nevada was supposed to play in the Las Vegas Invitational but appears to have gotten out of that contract to play in the Crossover Classic). Nevada was scheduled to host Dayton as part of the MW-A10 Challenge, but that series doesn't appear to be on the schedule anymore, which is disappointing.

Should fans be concerned? I guess that depends on what you expect. Will Nevada play several Power 5/high-NET teams next season? I don't see that being the final outcome. But I wouldn't be concerned the schedule hasn't been announced yet. These things are complicated in normal times and especially so with COVID impacting scheduling/previously signed contracts. Nevada will probably have more road games than normal, which could bolster the NET rankings, but it's currently lacking marquee non-conference competition based on the games that appear to be set.

The only games set so far are the neutral-site contests with Washington, George Mason and South Dakota State. Last season, Washington ranked 168 in NET, George Mason 135 and South Dakota State 115. Washington is the best NET booster for 2021-22. The Huskies were 168 in NET despite going 5-21. Nevada beat Nebraska last year, and the Cornhuskers had a NET of 129 with a 6-20 record. If you're a Power 5 school, your NET floor is around 150 even if you're awful. If Washington can be a little above .500, that would be a Quad 2 game with an outside chance of it turning into a Quad 1 contest.

Men's and women's tennis, which both finished last in the MW last season, got a new on-campus facility in 2016 but that hasn't improved results. There's been discussion of an indoor tennis facility as well, which is important due to the weather in the winter in Northern Nevada. But I don't that comes to fruition in the next couple of years. Women's soccer really needs its own facility with a grass playing surface, but, again, I don't see that happening. Outside of a two-year period under Terri Patraw from 2005-06, this program has lived at the bottom of the standings (Nevada has won just 14 of its 86 MW matches during Doug Knuth's tenure). Volleyball's facility (the Virginia Street Gym) is fine, but the results that program has delivered outside of the Devin Scruggs tenure have been meager. Nevada seems fairly content to try and win in the revenue sports and let the other programs on campus fend for themselves (there's a reason Josh Taylor, a Nevada alum, left the Wolf Pack for a job like Louisiana Tech). There's not much investment going on for the Wolf Pack's Olympic sports.

From most trustworthy to least trustworthy:

1. Raiders Halloween guy (he just wants some free candy, and who doesn't want that?)

2. Guy who walks around tailgate sans food/drink (he's just lonely; give him some food/drink)

3. Grown adult with hair highlights (he's just going through a mid-life crisis; let him have the highlights)

4. Old bald man with a pony tail (this person reminds me of the son from the Curious George movie voiced by David Cross; epic burn at 1:15 in the video below)


Top-five MLB stadiums I've been to:

1. Wrigley Field

2. Dodger Stadium

3. Petco Park

4. Oracle Park

5. Coors Field

Top-five MLB stadiums I'd like to go to:

1. Fenway Park

2. PNC Park

3. Oriole Park at Camden Yards

4. Yankee Stadium

5. T-Mobile Park

Top-three MLB stadiums I've seen from the freeway but never been inside:

1. Kauffman Stadium

2. Busch Stadium

3. Chase Field

Top-one stadium I'd like to burn because the team that plays inside of it cheated the Dodgers out of the 2017 World Series title:

1. Minute Maid Park

I'll give you four.

Bryan Reynolds, Pirates

Jake Cronenworth, Padres

Cedric Mullins, Orioles

Matt Olson, A's

Reynolds and Mullins will get in as reserves and Cronenworth has a solid shot of getting the NL's utility spot. Olson should get in, too, despite him not being a finalist for the AL first basemen vote.

Yes. Coach Alford has plucked his stars from the transfer market during his time at Nevada, so with the portal being emphasized more so at Nevada than during his stop at New Mexico, it might take longer to land a four- or five-star high school kid considering he's allotted half his scholarships with the Wolf Pack to transfers. But I don't think it will be too long before Alford lands a top-150 recruit out of high school. I wouldn't be surprised if Amarillo, Texas shooting guard Brendan Hausen is elevated to a four-star recruit (he's No. 195 in the nation in the 2022 class, per 247Sports) and lands at Nevada, although the Wolf Pack has stiff competition for his services.

A Martin twins basketball camp would sell out almost immediately. It'd be a huge hit. Ramon Sessions did a camp in Reno for more than a decade, although it wasn't promoted very widely. The Martin twins could get 300 or 400 kids in a couple of days. I'll be writing about this topic this week, but with NIL being pushed through — the NCAA is meeting on Name, Image and Likeness this week but 11 states will allow it starting Thursday — we could see some more cool camps. For example, Carson Strong, Romeo Doubs and Cole Turner could hold a "3 Amigos" football camp, and I'm guessing you could get 100 kids to pay $100 each. That's $10,000 for those three players. As far as last week's SCOTUS ruling, it was relative small fries because it only allowed unlimited benefits for college athletes in relation to academic gifts, but given it was a 9-0 vote, it could be a foreshadowing that college athletes will get fair market value in the coming years. That would be a huge development and could eventually destroy the NCAA, which I'm all for.

It's not ideal, although it's worth noting Eric Parrish was recruited by Eric Musselman's staff. You never want to waste time and resources on scholarship players who never appear for your team in a game. But it's not that big of a deal. If certain players don't fit the culture, you move on. College basketball rosters are like those in the NBA nowadays. There's going to be a constant churn. The era of players sticking at one school for four or five years is gone and never coming back with the NCAA approving the one-time transfer rule. You have to be flexibility and nimble if you're a college coach in the modern game, and Coach Alford has shown he's capable of doing that and piecing together a strong roster.

My two thoughts are: (1) the Giants deserve to have the best record in MLB based on how they've played this season; and (2) the Giants will not win the NL West.

In terms of point one, the Giants have MLB's third-best run differential this season and are the only team to rank top five in baseball in runs scored per game and fewest runs allowed per game. The pitching staff ranks top two in walk rate and groundball rate. They're not giving up free passes and are keeping the opponent from getting the ball in the air. Offensively, the Giants are fifth in walks and tied for first in homers. That's how you score in modern baseball. You walk and slug. So that 50-27 record, while inflated a little because the Giants are plus-four in one-run wins and have played a relatively weak schedule, is earned. But will it keep up forever?

We're not even to the halfway point of the season, and I do think the Giants will be surpassed for the NL West lead before the season ends. Offensively, the Giants are relying on a bunch of old guys posting their best seasons ever: Buster Posey with a 168 OPS+ (career 129); Evan Longoria 147 OPS+ (career 121); Brandon Belt 140 OPS+ (career 123); Brandon Crawford 137 OPS+ (career 97). Belt is 33, Crawford and Posey 34 and Longoria 35. Either these guys found some of Barry Bonds' clear and cream leftovers from the early 2000s or they're going to fall back to their career norms given their advanced age. I'll bet on the latter, and the same with some of these one-year contract pitchers putting up career-best marks (Anthony DeSclafani, for example). It's been a fun story, and the Giants are going to make the playoffs, but my money remains on the Dodgers winning the NL West.

Kudos to the Giants' staff for getting the best out of that roster, though.

Jason Deitrich went 6-5 with a 3.95 ERA in 73 innings that year, so I'm not sure "underperforming" is a correct assessment. But with Spider Track, you're probably looking at a minimum of seven no-hitters during his 13 starts that season, which pushes Nevada's record that year from 41-15 to 46-10, although the NCAA selection committee would have still snubbed the Wolf Pack.

Speaking of that 2015 Nevada baseball team, Trenton Brooks was named the MW player of the year that season. The Wolf Pack alum is now in Triple-A slashing .310/.379/.569 for the Cleveland baseball club that needs help in the outfield. It might not be too long before Brooks makes him MLB debut.

He's out to make the owners more money. Nothing more. Nothing less. That's the job of commissioner. He's just bad at his job and doesn't seem to care about baseball's overall well being. Other commissioners mask their money hunger better. Manfred has a big task ahead getting MLB to have an on-time start to the 2022 season with the collective bargaining agreement expiring after this year. If he can navigate that, he'll win some points. But he's still really bad at his job. In terms of ranking the big-four commissioners, I'd go:

1. Adam Silver, NBA

2. Gary Bettman, NHL

3. Roger Goodell, NFL

4. Rob Manfred, MLB

I wouldn't count on it. Like you said, he's probably going to St. John's for academic reasons. Plus Nevada is at the NCAA maximum for scholarship players next season. So barring the Wolf Pack dropping a player and Nevada being the right fit academically for Tareq Coburn, that's not happening.

The NBA got a massive television deal a few years back and instead of smoothing the cap, which means gradually increasing it over multiple years, the National Basketball Players Association pushed to have a historic, one-time spike in 2016. That caused the salary cap to go from $70 million per team in 2015 to $94.1 million per team in 2016. The core of the Warriors (Klay Thompson, Steph Curry and Draymond Green) had already been locked into long-term deals under the smaller cap. So that one-time jump, an increase of $24.1 million, in addition to a trade of Andrew Bogut, allowed the Warriors to add Durant's $26.5 million salary ahead of the 2016-17 season. If the cap had been smoothed rather than spiked, the 73-win Warriors adding Durant wouldn't have been possible. Building these NBA "superteams" is dumb, but it's a reaction from the players to the fans/media who only use championships as a measuring system. If players are going to be judged solely based on their number of titles (see the LeBron vs. MJ debate), the players have to form "superteams" to get the rings necessary to be deemed "better than" previous generations of players.

There is no Monday Mailbag deadline. As long as the question is asked before I publish the article on Monday afternoon, I'll try and include it. As for the Mike Trout vs. Babe Ruth debate, I was referring to how both players would fare in the modern game. If you dropped 1920s Babe Ruth into the modern game, he wouldn't get out of Triple-A. And I'm sure Trout, who has thrown a ball 99 miles per hour from the outfield, would be an elite pitcher if you dropped him into the 1920s when Ruth played. If you're judging each player based on their performance compared to their contemporaries, Ruth is the best player ever. But the game evolves and gets better every year.

* Logger Campground (site No. 83)

* June Lake Campground

* McArthur-Burney Falls Rim Campground

* Sardine Lake Campground

* Frenchman Campground

And I guess Yosemite National Park would count since you said "with a few hours of Reno."

I'm not literate when it comes to stocks. I just dump money into a 401(k) and MassMutual plan on a monthly basis and hope I'll be able to retire on that. They really should teach this stuff in college. Instead I read a lot of books in Western Traditions (now referred to as Core Humanities) that I don't remember. I guess that was deemed more valuable than knowing how stocks work when I was going to college.

Maybe she's constipated. Give her some Milk of Magnesia before you cut her head off.

I have not been watching Euro2020 or Copa America. I've been focused on getting the Lava Cobras a win. We lost Sunday's matchup, 13-4, and three of our goals came from my nephew, who was in the coaching area with me and who the ref allowed to sub in (even though he's 8 years old and we play in a 7U league) because one of my players was bloodied and I had no reserves because the rest of my players were on vacation. I subbed in Little Cousin Mason and he scored three goals in less than three minutes. I could have kept him in longer, but I patched up my bloodied player and put her back in and subbed out Mason. We were out-scored 10-1 thereafter. My son scored our other goal, which is miracle-level work. He got an ice cream from Coldstone as a reward. We have this week off due to Fourth of July but are back at it the following Saturday, and given the high level of play the other teams in our league have displayed in my scouting, that's our best chance at a win this year. If we lose that game, I'm putting a wig on Mason ala the movie Ladybugs and letting him join the Cobras to give us a chance at victory.

1. CupCakes

2. Twinkies

3. Ho Hos

4. Ding Dongs

5. Zingers

6. Sno Balls

7. Chocodile Twinkies

CupCakes and Ramen was my go-to vending machine order when I worked the 4 p.m.-1 a.m. shift at the RGJ during the beginning part of my career. I ate so much crappy food in my youth.

Yes. When we get back to the office in a month or so, I will get you a Nevada Sports Net mug. Just DM me in early August. I currently have an NSN mug on my desk, so you can have that. But I'll try and do you one better by making a personalized NSN coffee mug out of my bare hands like Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in Ghost. Time for me to hit the kiln and get my pottery on. See y'all next week!

Sports columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. He writes a weekly Monday Mailbag despite it giving him a headache and it taking several hours to write. But people seem to like it, so he does it anyway. Contact him at crmurray@sbgtv.com or follow him on Twitter @ByChrisMurray.

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