Draft is unofficial start to NFL season | NevadaAppeal.com

Draft is unofficial start to NFL season

No draft is more watched and followed than this weekend’s NFL Draft.

It’s an event and an unofficial kickoff to the new football season as teams strategize over a three-day period on how to improve their chances at winning the Super Bowl. Thursday’s first round in Chicago kicked off this year’s draft as the hype, as usual, has been surrounded by the battle of choosing between Oregon’s Marcus Mariota or Florida State’s Jameis Winston.

But while a lot of the stardom is placed on the first and even second rounds, it’s later in the draft where teams start to find the hidden gems who can one day help them hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Don’t forget Tom Brady wasn’t picked up until the latter rounds and look what he’s done for the Patriots.

On the home front, it’s a similar story as Fallon’s two recent NFL players went undrafted but were signed as free agents.

Harvey Dahl had a solid career after picking up the phone from Dallas after the draft.

Dahl ended up moving to San Francisco for a short stint before making his payday with Atlanta. He helped anchor an offensive line that produced a potent ground attack while protecting quarterback Matt Ryan. The Falcons made the playoffs but couldn’t get past the first round while Dahl was with the team. Dahl finished his career in St. Louis but never saw the playoffs again.

Josh Mauga, who’s the only Fallon player in the NFL, was hit with several injuries during his last two years at Nevada. He couldn’t compete in all the activities at the NFL Combine and didn’t hear his name called during the draft. But the Jets took a chance on Mauga and eventually signed the linebacker as he helped in third-down situations and played on special teams.

Like Dahl, Mauga played in the playoffs and the Jets came one win away from reaching the Super Bowl. Four years ago, both the Falcons and Jets were in the playoffs, giving the Fallon faithful reason to believe that they could see Mauga on the same field as Dahl.

Injuries came back to haunt Mauga, prompting the Jets not to sign the Fallon product. But Mauga came back strong and the Chiefs took a chance last summer.

The result: Mauga led the team in tackles as he started every game. Mauga even made two trips to the Bay Area when the Chiefs lost to the 49ers in their brand-new stadium and then saw the Raiders come out victorious in a rain-pouring divisional clash.

While Fallon hasn’t had a football player reach the NFL since Mauga, or even play at the Division I level in college, recent Colorado Mesa grad Trevor de Braga is still trying to get into this competitive field. De Braga participated in another tryout for an indoor league team last weekend and is hopeful his break will come soon.

This weekend is arguably the most exciting event off the football field as fans are hopeful that their favorite team will pick the right combination of players. But for those who don’t hear their names called, it isn’t the end of the road as Fallon has proven twice recently.

Thomas Ranson can be contacted at lvnsports@yahoo.com.