The Missouri Valley sent four of the nine total FCS representatives to the combine last weekend. That number comes to no one's surprise as the Valley has long been at the top of the FCS landscape. NDSU sent Cody Mauch (OT), Hunter Luepke (FB) and Noah Grindorff (TE) while reigning national champ, SDSU, sent Tucker Kraft (TE). Luepke did not participate due to recent shoulder surgery, but he was still present and spoke to the media and scouts. Grindorff did much of the same besides participating in the bench press (16 reps). Kraft and Mauch are the Valley representatives who turned heads over the weekend.
Kraft, the 6 '5, 254 pounder, was a draft prospect after the 2021 season leading to some power five programs to come knocking. He told reporters that he was offered some lucrative financial deals but stayed true to SDSU. Loyalty helped lead the Jackrabbits to their first national title last January. Kraft performed well at the combine, posting impressive scores in the 40 (4.69), 3 cone (7.08), shuttle (4.29), and bench press (23 reps). The speed is the most impressive part to me. You’re not gonna see too many guys 250 plus movin like that. He also looked good in the onfield workout. He looked strong in the blocking drills, while running smooth routes and showing off his hands. His ability to block and run routes is a hell of a difficulty to prepare for on defense. As a former SIU linebacker myself, I had the pleasure of meeting Kraft on the field many times. Was always fun to not only have to fight him in the run game, but cover him when they dropped back to pass. He’s a tough fight in the run game and if you don’t get his hands off you…you may be going for a ride. He does a great job of giving his running back holes whether it's blocking out on a 7 technique, coming down on a 5, or climbing to a linebacker/safety.
Kraft does a great job of shielding the defender from the ball when going for a catch with strong hands to compliment. Let me tell ya, if you think he’s easy to bring down once he catches it, you’re wrong. Big fella can move! He showed a great ability to avoid and run through would be tacklers in college. Very rarely would one man bring him down, I know I didn’t. He met with fifteen teams at the combine and had a lot of good buzz around his name. Someone is gonna get a steal when they pick him up in the middle rounds of this year's draft.
Cody Mauch is an underdog story everyone loves. The former walk-on tight end from NDSU turned himself into a highly touted Offensive Lineman in this year’s draft. He let his personality shine with the media, showing that he’s a guy anyone would love to have a beer with. The fact that he knocked his teeth out in the seventh grade and decided to never get them fixed would put him on my big board alone. He’s got all the personality off the field, and all the toughness and nasty on the field. He has the ability to play across the line, moves extremely well and always finishes his blocks. He shined at the Reese’s Senior Bowl and was dominant in 1-on-1s. Mauch pullin on a power design brings “get off the tracks” energy. The 6’ 5, 302 pounder tested well last weekend, posting top 10 times in the 40 (5.08), shuttle (4.55), 3 cone (7.33) and bench press (29). He’s still relatively raw but c’mon, the guy started his collegiate career as a Tight End. Mauch impressed many scouts, coaches, gms, and reporters over the weekend and was the talk of the Offensive Line. The former walk-on made himself a lottt of money. I could very well see him off the board day two.