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2015 NFL Draft Player Profile: Marshall QB Rakeem Cato and Other Thundering Herd Options

With a senior class that finished their time in Huntington at 35-18, with three bowl victories and a conference championship, there is a lot of talk of who from this Marshall team could make it to the next level in the NFL Draft.

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There's probably a good chance of making it somewhere in the NFL Draft whenever Mel Kiper, Jr. lists you as one of the ten best quarterbacks available in the draft (#8 to be exact).

However, it could be argued that any positives from that would be cancelled out by the fact that he is listed directly below Bryan Bennett, a kid who is either 1b to Marcus Mariota's 1a, or so bad he might be unplayable in the NFL, depending on which message board you read.

That said, what do we know about Cato?


The face (or more correctly, the beard) of the Marshall program for the last 4 years has been the undersized signal caller from Miami. Rakeem Cato's name is all over the Marshall record books, at the top of the list most of the time. Cato has shown in his time at Marshall the combination of a strong arm and elusiveness in the pocket that many teams would love to have. Many draft analysts have compared Cato's skill set to that of a less-refined Russell Wilson or Teddy Bridgewater.


The negatives for Cato are both physical and mental. Cato is media guide listed at 6'1", 176 pounds, but he probably stands closer to 5'11" and doesn't play particularly large in the pocket. With the large offensive lines of the NFL, Cato would be easily swallowed up by NFL defenses.

The other con against Cato is his inconsistent play. Cato could be prone to mistakes, whether under pressure or not. Marshall's lone loss this season was due in large part to his four interceptions against Western Kentucky, including one in the Marshall endzone.

When Cato actually reads his progressions, he can carve up defenses. The problem is that Cato seemed to walk up to the line, look for Tommy Shuler and lock in before the snap. Against UAB, Marshall had nine different players catch a pass. Shuler caught 10, two receivers caught 2, and everyone else had only one. With the bevy of talent in the receiving corps, Shuler caught 35% of Cato's completions with 92 receptions. The next on that list was Eric Frohnapfel with 14% of those completions.

Ultimately, I think Cato will go undrafted. He doesn't have the size NFL scouts are looking for and isn't the same quarterback without Tommy Shuler out wide. Cato might end up being an undrafted free agent or might play in a lesser league, like the CFL or Arena League.

Other Potential Undrafted Free Agents

Tommy Shuler - The Herd's number one receiver since the graduation of Aaron Dobson has gone over 1,100 yards in each of the last 3 seasons, with 110, 106, and 92 receptions in each season, respectively. Shuler has strong hands and is a strong route runner with the numbers to prove it. However, Shuler has two big negatives on his biography. Shuler stands at only 5'7" and lacks the breakaway speed of his "scatback" size.

Eric Frohnapfel - Frohnapfel has the best "NFL-size" on the Marshall roster. The tight end stands at 6'7" and weighs 235 lbs. This season was his best statistical season, catching 37 balls for 420 yards and 5 touchdowns. His play goes beyond being a receiving threat, as he is a good blocker as well. With his tight end predecessor Lee Smith with the Buffalo Bills, there is somewhat a pedigree for Marshall tight ends over the past decade.

Neville Hewitt - The Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year is a converted JUCO safety who provided a great deal to the Herd's defense from his outside linebacker position over the past two seasons. Hewitt led the Herd in tackles this season with 123. Some scouts have said he has the best chance of any Marshall player to get to the next level and have described him as having "[a] tremendous nose for the ball, great closing speed, gets downhill fast, and is excellent on pass rush and coverage."

Jermaine Holmes - Throughout much of the 2014 season, Holmes was putting up nearly the same numbers as Hewitt. Holmes was credited with 104 tackles on the season, giving the senior a career total of 296 tackles. Holmes might be a step slower than Hewitt, but is a very instinctive player who can disrupt offenses from the linebacker position. As has been the whole season, Holmes has been put in the same breath as Hewitt, only this time when it comes to draft status.