Football, Sports, WVU Sports

Several WVU players could hear name called at NFL draft; Kenny Robinson hopes for chance

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — With the first round of the NFL draft in the past, the final six are set to begin at 7 p.m. Friday — 2nd and 3rd rounds Friday and 4th-7th at noon Saturday — and several former WVU players are hoping to hear their names called.

The likely name to be called first is offensive lineman Colton McKivitz, who had a stellar career for the Mountaineers from 2016-19. He did not start his first game as a redshirt-freshman, but went on to start 49-straight at both right tackle and left tackle.

Last season, replacing Yodny Cajuste, McKivitz took hold of the left tackle spot and went on to be named the co-Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year and second team All-American.

“Colton played tremendous last year as a senior,” WVU coach Neal Brown told The Dominion Post. “We fully expect him to find a good home.”

Following a good showing at the Senior Bowl, McKivitz earned an invite to the NFL combine in Indianapolis. He measured at 6-foot-6 and 306 pounds, and draft analyst Lance Zierlein projects McKivitz as a 6th round pick.

“Tackle prospect with below-average arm length, average athleticism and above-average nasty,” Zierlein wrote. “While he’s likely to be tagged as a right tackle, he may have the tools to fit into a swing tackle role if needed. He’s got good natural strength but some lower body tightness hinders leverage both as a drive blocker and in his pass anchor. McKivitz can be a little tardy on backside cutoffs, but moves well enough to handle blocking duties in space. His dirt-dog mentality will be welcomed in offensive line rooms, but he will have to fight to be become an NFL starter.”

McKivitz, a Jacobsburg, Ohio, native, spent most of his time following the combine in Arizona, preparing for the draft and continuing workouts. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he will remain in the Phoenix suburbs this weekend for the draft.

The remaining Mountaineers will be on the fringe of draft, including wide receiver George Campbell, cornerback Keith Washington, cornerback Hakeem Bailey, safety Josh Norwood and running back Kennedy McKoy.

Campbell had 19 catches for 469 yards and seven touchdowns in one season at West Virginia, but a loaded wide receiver draft may make it difficult for Campbell to be drafted. McKoy was penciled in as the starting running back to start last season, but with a transition in the offense and a struggling offensive line, McKoy also struggled to gain traction. He rushed for just 323 yards in 12 games.

Washington and Norwood were staples in the WVU secondary the last two years, but both battled injuries toward the end of the season. Norwood broke his collarbone diving for an interception at Kansas State and missed the final two games, while Washington had a nagging lower body injury that kept him out of the finale against TCU.

The option to sign as an undrafted free agent is open to all who aren’t selected, including long-snapper Rex Sunahara.

“Keith is definitely a guy who will get a chance,” Brown said. “Rex Sunahara is maybe as good as any long-snapper in the country. He was one of our leading tacklers on our punt team, which is unheard of for a snapper. Josh Norwood is a guy who could definitely hear his name called. There’s definitely some interest in our guys, and we think this (with the coronavirus) has been crazy for us, it’s been crazy for them, too. We had to cancel our pro day and stuff like that, but I’m hoping all of them can at least get into a camp and showcase what they can do.”

Robinson readies for NFL chance

Another former Mountaineer, Kenny Robinson, hopes to begin his NFL journey this weekend, but it’s been quite a different path for the ex-WVU safety.

Robinson nailed down the starting free safety spot at WVU in 2018, on his way to an All-Big 12 first team selection. However, he entered his name in the transfer portal the following spring, and The Dominion Post previously reported Robinson was facing a possible suspension due to violating WVU’s code of student conduct for an academic issue.

Robinson later confirmed he was kicked out of school for the violation.

Instead of moving to another school, Robinson decided to declare for the XFL draft, due in large part to his mother’s cancer diagnosis. He was looking for immediate financial stability and the XFL gave him that.

The XFL was also an outlet to the NFL, and in five games with the St. Louis BattleHawks, Robinson had 21 tackles, a sack and two interceptions. The league was forced to cancel its season because of coronavirus and ultimately filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on April 10.

Robinson’s short stint in the XFL was still beneficial, as many draft experts believe he could go as high as the 3rd round.

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