SDSU Mountain West NCAA
LoomsDaniel Bellinger in the Aztecs’ 27-16 win in their season finale against Boise State in November 2021. Photo credit: Derrick Tuskan, via goaztecs.com

With the NFL Draft fast approaching, six former San Diego State players soon may learn their football fates.

Matt Araiza, Daniel Bellinger and Cameron Thomas, though, have gotten the most buzz among the eligible Aztecs in the lead up to the three-day draft, which starts Thursday.

The NFL provides online info on possible draftees, including combine results and various scouting reports. The takes on the Aztecs awaiting word on their pro football futures, based on the order of their grades as prospects:

  • Thomas, a defensive end and Carlsbad High alum, is considered a good backup with starting potential. Some predictions place him as a second-round pick. His strengths, scouts said, include versatility and good hands, but they also noted his lack of NFL-level competition while at SDSU.
  • Bellinger, a tight end out of Las Vegas, also was tagged with the good backup and starting potential label. He was called “a Day 3 prospect” whose “consistency as a run blocker will determine whether he’s a short-term backup or longer-term contributor.”
  • Despite the hype around Araiza last season, who was honored as the nation’s top college punter, the Rancho Bernardo High alum was judged only to display the “traits or talent to be an above-average backup.” Nevertheless, it was said that “if he learns to kick with more consistent control, the sky’s the limit.” Sports Illustrated also pointed to him as a Day-3 pick.
  • Guard Zach Thomas, Cameron’s brother and another Carlsbad High product, rated as a possible “average backup or special teamer.” He was described as having “late-round potential.”
  • Guard William Dunkle, out of Eastlake High in Chula Vista, also received the “average backup or special teamer” tag. Starting is possible, but scouts noted that “his grade and tape is more in line with a backup role.”
  • Running back Greg Bell, a Bonita Vista High alum, is not expected to be drafted, but could catch on as a free agent, though scouts warned that “without special teams or third-down value, the deck could be stacked against him.”

The draft, to be held in Las Vegas, begins at 5 p.m. Thursday.