The Aztecs haven't had a player drafted since 2014, but this season is a much different story with four legitimate prospects likely to get their names called in April.
Tom Herman helped turn Houston into a an attractive destination for NFL talent evaluators with William Jackson III, Elandon Roberts and Demarcus Ayers all getting their names called in the 2016 draft. Once again, Houston has a solid chance to send three players to the pros come April.
Let's take a look at the future NFL talent playing in the Las Vegas Bowl. All rankings are according to CBS Sports.
|2||Nico Siragusa||OG||San Diego State|
|3||Damontae Kazee||CB||San Diego State|
|4||Donnel Pumphrey||RB||San Diego State|
|5||Calvin Munson||OLB||San Diego State|
|7||Greg Ward Jr.||WR||Houston|
San Diego State
Donnel Pumphrey, RB
Pumphrey finished the 2016 regular season as the No. 2 overall rusher in college football with 2,018 yards and 16 touchdowns. At 5-foot-9, 180 pounds, Pumphrey's size is the only measurable holding him back from being drafted in the first few rounds.
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CBS Sports pegs the San Diego State speedster as the No. 14 RB prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft, projecting him in the fourth or fifth round. We've seen smaller guys like Darren Sproles and Chris Thompson find success in the pros and Pumphrey's speed and agility make him stand out.
Damontae Kazee, CB
Kazee is the 16th ranked CB prospect according to CBS Sports. The Aztecs star had 62 tackles, 8 pass deflections and 7 interceptions during the 2016 season. He's stout in coverage, but equally as effective brushing off a block and stopping the run.
Projected as a fourth or fifth round draft pick, Kazee could be a steal for some NFL squad.
Nico Siragusa, OG
The San Diego State guard will likely be the highest drafted player from the 2016 Aztecs group. Most draft boards peg Siragusa as a definite fourth rounder, but he could potentially come off the board late in the third round.
Recognize the last name? Yes, he's the son of former Ravens defensive linemen Tony Siragusa. The Aztecs bruiser is obviously big (6-foot-5, 330 pounds), but he's quick and agile which bodes will for a guard.
Calvin Munson, OLB
Munson is a tackling machine, with 108 on the season. He also recorded 3.5 sacks. The Aztecs outside linebacker doesn't have freakish athletic ability, but he's the kind of guy that will be productive week after week. CBS projects Munson as a 6th rounder in April.
Steven Taylor, OLB
Outside linebacker is a coveted position for every NFL scout, and Taylor has all the tools to thrive in the NFL. The 6-foot-1 225 pound prospect recorded 90 tackles including 8.5 sacks.
Talent evaluators will like Taylor's ability to rush the passer, but he's also athletic enough to match up with tight ends in coverage.
Check out this highlight tape from Taylor's junior season.
Tyus Bowser, OLB
Bowser lines up opposite of Taylor on the Cougars defense. He's a bit bigger (6-foot-3, 240 pounds) but he hasn't posted the same stats as his teammate.
Bowser missed five games because of a fight with his teammate and that doesn't always look great in the eyes of NFL front offices. CBS pegs him a a 6th round talent.
Greg Ward Jr., WR
You read that right folks. Most draft sites, including CBS, are predicting Ward will make the jump from QB to WR in the NFL. We've seen it work with guys like Terrelle Pryor and J.T. Barrett, and Ward is athletic enough to make the transition.
At 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, the Houston quarterback is just too small to thrive as a passer at the next level. It will be fun to see how it plays out.