Some college football fans haven’t forgotten about the bold NFL mock draft that projected Gophers senior quarterback Mitch Leidner as a first-round pick.
ESPN football analyst Todd McShay guessed in his “Way-too-early” projections last May that Leidner would be picked No. 25 overall by the Dallas Cowboys.
Derek Barlage tweeted Saturday after the Gophers’ 24-17 loss to Nebraska in which Leidner threw no touchdowns and one interception “Remember when [McShay] said Leidner could be a 1st round QB in the NFL draft. That was glorious.”
Owen Riese tweeted Monday “Future NFL Draft first round QB Mitch Leidner hasn’t thrown a touchdown in 144 pass attempts.
The mean tweets have built up throughout the season with Leidner struggling to prove McShay a genius despite the Gophers’ 7-3 record.
The most recent mock drafts by Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports, ESPN, Draft Write, you name it, Leidner is nowhere to be found in the first round, or second or third … . You get it. However, the high projection might not have been fair.
Leidner has passed for 1,685 yards, averaging 7.14 yards per attempt, has completed 58.9 percent of his passes, has seven interceptions and just five throwing touchdowns, and has been sacked eight times. The 6-4, 230-pound QB from Lakeville also has 266 yards and eight rushing touchdowns.
The Gophers will be bowl eligible and are still in the running for a spot in the Big Ten title game.
One recent mock draft by Fansided predicts Leidner will stay close to home after going to the Vikings in the fifth round of the NFL draft.
“Would adding a high-upside arm be the worst idea? I don’t think so,” Gil Alcaraz IV wrote. “Leidner has disappointed as a college quarterback, but there’s no denying his raw physical tools. He’s got the size, arm talent and athleticism to be an NFL signal caller, but needs some pro-caliber coaching. A year or two learning under the Vikings’ other quarterbacks could do wonders for his development.”
McShay wrote in May “Leidner shows some upside as a passer, but I'll be looking to see if he can improve his accuracy (59.5 completion rate and 14/11 TD/INT ratio in 2015). Listed at 6-foot-4 and 237 pounds, Leidner has ideal size and has shown the ability to make plays with his legs off designed runs and scrambles. He's a late riser to keep an eye on, similar to Blake Bortles and Carson Wentz.”
Leidner might develop into a successful quarterback at the next level, but unless a miracle happens in the next few months, don’t expect Leidner to be the "sleeper" Wentz became in the 2016 NFL draft. CBS Sports draft analyst Benjamin Allbright last spring tweeted Leidner could be a sleeper with a caveat: “He’s barely draftable, but has tools."