Mason Fine draft predictions

North Texas quarterback Mason Fine throws a pass during a season-ending loss to UAB at Apogee Stadium. Fine is hoping to become the first UNT player drafted since 2004.

The NFL draft is set to begin on Thursday, which means we are now just days away from North Texas finding out the answer to the annual question.

Is this finally the year the Mean Green have a player drafted?

UNT last had a player picked in 2004, when linebacker Cody Spencer was selected by the Raiders. 

No program in major college football has a longer draft drought than the Mean Green.

UNT has a handful of players who are garnering interest this year, including quarterback Mason Fine, defensive end LaDarius Hamilton and tight end Kelvin Smith.

Hamilton was invited to the scouting combine and performed well. He and Fine also played in the Shrine Bowl.

Both are considered fringe NFL draft prospects.

UNT had had several players fall into that category over the years only to be passed over, including linebackers Zach Orr and Craig Robertson and running back Lance Dunbar.

This year just feels like the time when UNT will break through.

Fine and Hamilton were both highly productive at premium positions -- quarterback and pass rusher. They're exactly the types of players teams would be willing to take a late-round flier on. Smith has the type of physical skills that could help him make the move from tight end to fullback in the NFL.

Here's a prediction for all three.

Mason Fine, quarterback

Fine threw for 12,505 yards and 93 touchdowns in his career. He would be a sure pick if he was a few inches taller.

The Oklahoma native wasn't invited to the scouting combine and measured in at 5-9 3/4 at the Shrine Bowl.

That will be enough to scare off some teams. Others will likely look past that mark, largely because of the success of other short quarterbacks in the NFL in recent years.

Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints is listed at 6-0 and is has played in the Pro Bowl 13 times. Kyler Murray is 5-10 and was the No. 1 overall pick in last year's draft.

Fine won't go that high, but there is too much interest being shown in him for him not to be picked.

The San Francisco 49ers are among the teams that have been in contact with him.

Prediction: Seventh round to the San Francisco 49ers.

LaDarius Hamilton, defensive end

Hamilton made an impression at the combine, where he put up 27 reps on the bench, a total that tied for 10th out of 38 defensive linemen. He also ran a 4.89 40-yard dash, which ranked 16th.

That performance, combined with production that includes 17 career sacks should be enough for Hamilton to sneak into the late rounds.

Prediction: Seventh round to the Cleveland Browns.

Kelvin Smith, tight end

Smith was a productive player throughout his time at UNT and could follow in the path of former Mean Green wide receiver Jamize Olawale.

Olawale was a solid player for UNT and drew attention from the NFL because of his size and athleticism. He made the move to fullback in the NFL and has carved out a productive career after being signed as a free agent.

Prediction: Free agent

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

Recommended for you