May 7, 2014
One of the best offensive linemen to play at Nevada, Joel Bitonio will likely hear his name called this week as the NFL Draft begins Thursday evening, concluding on Saturday.
Bitonio has a chance to become the highest Nevada draft pick in history and the first alum to be a first-round selection in the modern era as a number of mock drafts have Bitonio going as high as 31st overall.
In the history of the draft, Nevada has had 43 players selected, including 10 over the past three years, which is second amongst non-BCS programs in that timespan. That includes a 2011 draft class that featured San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and a 2012 class that had a school-record four players selected.
While Bitonio played tackle at Nevada, his versatility is one of his many attributes that NFL teams are looking at. It is projected that Bitonio could play any of the five spots on the line.
CBSSports.com has Bitonio going to Denver with the 31st overall pick in one mock draft and going to Miami with the 18th pick in the second round in another.
The predicted pick by the Broncos is echoed on NFL.com where Charles David and Daniel Jeremiah each have slotted Bitonio to go.
An ESPN.com mock draft with Mel Kiper and Todd McShay has Bitonio going to Tampa Bay at No. 38 overall, saying "Guard is a big need, and I get a really good tackle who could be fantastic at guard. He's a killer in the run game, and my head coach wants to run the ball. Have to love the improvement to my offensive personnel after two rounds."
Kiper also cited Bitonio's versatility and his "mean streak as a run-blocker."
USA Today has Bitonio as the 53rd-ranked player in the draft while Sports Illustrated.com has Bitonio as the 68th-ranked player.
While Nevada has never had a first-round pick in modern era, it has had two second-rounder. Kaepernick went No. 36 overall in 2011. Wideout Alex Van Dyke remains the highest draft pick in the modern era at No. 31 overall by the New York Jets in 1996.
But the draft isn't the only road to the NFL. Sometimes, going undrafted works out in a player's favor because he might be able to pick from more than one offer as a free agent and select the situation that fits him the best.
A number of Nevada players have made it to the NFL without being draft, including Josh Mauga, Jonathon Amaya and Harvey Dahl.
A handful of other Wolf Pack alums, including wideout Brandon Wimberly and punter Chase Tenpenny, could be drafted or wind up in an NFL training camp as a free agent.
Here's Nevada's NFL Draft history:
Year Rd. Pick Player Pos. Team
2013 4 105 Duke Williams S Buffalo Bills
2013 6 202 Khalid Wooten CB Tennessee Titans
2012 4 120 James-Michael Johnson LB Cleveland Browns
2012 5 142 Brandon Marshall LB Jacksonville Jaguars
2012 6 184 Isaiah Frey DB Chicago Bears
2012 7 227 Rishard Matthews WR Miami Dolphins
2011 2 36 Colin Kaepernick QB San Francisco 49ers
2011 3 66 Dontay Moch LB Cincinnati Bengals
2011 7 204 Virgil Green TE Denver Broncos
2009 7 243 Marko Mitchell WR Washington Redskins
2007 5 151 Jeff Rowe QB Cincinnati Bengals
2006 5 165 Tony Moll G Green Bay Packers
2004 3 86 Jorge Cordova LB Jacksonville Jaguars
2004 5 149 Maurice Mann WR Cincinnati Bengals
2003 3 71 Nate Burleson WR Minnesota Vikings
1998 4 108 DeShone Myles MLB Seattle Seahawks
1998 6 172 John Dutton QB Miami Dolphins
1998 6 175 James Cannida DT Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1996 2 31 Alex Van Dyke WR New York Jets
1993 5 117 Forey Duckett CB Cincinnati Bengals
1993 7 196 Brock Marion DB Dallas Cowboys
1991 7 189 Bernard Ellison CB Kansas City Chiefs
1991 9 233 Treamelle Taylor WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1990 12 331 Demetrius Davis TE Los Angeles Raiders
1989 8 196 Charvez Foger RB Dallas Cowboys
1989 9 230 Patrick Egu RB Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1987 5 135 Henry Rolling LB Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1986 3 68 Patrick Hunter DB Seattle Seahawks
1984 2-supp. 45 Derek Kennard G St. Louis Cardinals
1984 1-supp. 27 Tony Zendejas K Washington Redskins
1984 1-supp. 20 Al Williams WR Detroit Lions
1983 3 84 Charles Mann DE Washington Redskins
1981 5 136 Eric Sanders T Atlanta Falcons
1981 10 276 Frank Hawkins RB Oakland Raiders
1978 6 163 Doug Betters DE Miami Dolphins
1952 13 Pat Brady QB New York Giants
1951 16 Dick Afflis OT Green Bay Packers
1949 1 Stan Heath QB Green Bay Packers
1949 8 Dan Orlich DE Green Bay Packers
1947 2 Bill Mackrides QB Philadelphia Eagles
1947 23 Tom Kalmanir HB Pittsburgh Steelers
1946 3 Bob McClure G Boston Yanks
1945 24 Don Talcott T Philadelphia Eagles
Huntington Beach, Calif. (Long Beach Wilson HS)
At Nevada: A three-year starter who earned first-team All-Mountain Honors as a senior ... Named the team's Big Blocker of the Year and served as a team captain as a senior in 2013 ... Graduated in December of 2013 with a degree in economics and was a multi-year selection to the academic all-conference team ... Named to the National Football Foundation Hampshire Honor Society - one of just five players from the Mountain West conference to earn that distinction ... Played in all 52 games of his career and started the final 38 games in a row.
2013: Was one of the top offensive linemen on the West Coast after capping his senior season with first-team All-Mountain West accolades ... Started all 12 games and excelled, especially against UCLA and eventual national champion Florida State ... Was a consensus first-team All-MW selection by most publications ...
Returns for his senior season and will be one of the top offensive linemen in the Mountain West ... Has started 26 consecutive games entering his senior season ... Named preseason All-Mountain West second team by Phil Steele ... Also named to the preseason All-Mountain West second team by Athlon.
2012: Emerged as the best offensive lineman on the team along with fellow tackle Jeff Nady ... Named honorable mention in 2012 All-Mountain West voting ... Earned three of the team's Big Blocker Awards for best performance by a lineman in a victory (Northwestern State, Hawaii, Wyoming) ... Paved the way for the seventh-best rushing attack in the nation at 271.0 yards per game and the nation's second-leading rusher in Stefphon Jefferson (144.85) ... Part of a total offensive attach that was eighth in the nation at 514.85 ... Named to Preseason All-MW Second Team by College Football Madness ... Named to Preseason All-MW Third Team by the Phil Steele.
2011: Stepped in and started all 13 games at one of the tackle positions for the Union ...Was a key force in leading the way for the fifth-best offense in the nation ...Earned Basalite Big Blocker honors for his performance against UNLV.
2010: Emerged as a redshirt freshman to be a valuable reserve on the Union ... Played throughout the regular season as a tackle and on some special teams ... Saw action in all 14 games.
2009: Redshirted his first season in the program but made the travel squad for the Sheraton Hawai`i Bowl ... Won the Offense's Full-Speed, Effort and Habit Award as the Scout Team Player of the Year.
A graduate of Long Beach (Calif.) Wilson Classical High School ... Was a three-year letterman for coach Mario Morales ... Was a two-sport star as a three-year letterwinner in basketball as well ... As a senior, was named to the Long Beach Telegram's Dream Team for football and basketball ... Was a two-time all-league selection and was the Moore League Lineman of the Year as a senior ... Was a first-team all-conference selection and was named second-team all-state by maxpreps.com ... Also lettered in track as a senior and led the league in the shot put.
Born Joel Michael Bitonio on Oct. 11, 1991 in San Pedro, Calif. ... Son of Debbie and the late Mike Bitonio ... Has an older sister, Katie, and a younger brother, Lucas ... Sports hero is Kobe Bryant ... Choose Nevada because of the direction of the program, the atmosphere and the academic reputation of the school ... Was also recruited by Fresno State and San Jose State, among others ... Enjoys playing basketball, watching movies, listening to music and going to the beach in his free time.