The 2019 NFL Draft is quickly approaching and dozens of college hopefuls will be in the spotlight for their athletic ability. Teams are gearing up to select the new editions to their 2019 rosters and the mock drafts have been in full swing for weeks.
We’re here to talk about athletes giving back, and one group that often gets left out of the conversation is college athletes. So, we’re putting a philanthropy spin on the mock draft. There are thousands of college football players in the US that have played well on the field, kept up with their classwork, and found the time to make an impact in the community. Here’s our first round mock NFL draft: philanthropy edition.
Pick 1, Arizona Cardinals: Jackson Erdmann, QB, Saint John’s University (Minn.)
If the Cardinals are looking for a QB that will make an off the field impact, they have one in Erdmann. Erdmann took an 18 day mission trip to Thailand to volunteer with three organizations that work to combat child sex trafficking. He’s helped out at the Breaking Free House in Minneapolis, a shelter home for women that have been victims of sex trafficking and prostitution. Erdmann also volunteers at the Dream Center, where men 18 and older struggling with mental health issues or disabilities can receive support. He also packages meals for Kids Fighting Hunger and raises money for the annual Tackle Cancer game. Erdmann was named to the 2018 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.
Pick 2, San Francisco 49ers: Kyle Kilgore, DE, Bethel University (Minn.)
The 49ers are in need of a pass rusher who can make an impact. Kilgore can make an impact in the community. He was named to the 2018 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. Kilgore has partnered with several local organizations like the Ober Center, the Dorothy Day Center, Challenge New Orleans and Challenge Kansas City, Cottage Grove Middle School Raw Club Empathy Retreat. He has participated in multiple Minnesota Vikings FCA camps. He took part in the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics in 2017. Kilgore spent his 2018 spring break in Costa Rica, where he worked with Students International in Desamparados to provide poverty-stricken youth with activities such as soccer clinics, ping pong tournaments, hikes and garden planting. Kilgore partnered with the Matthew Foundation Super Fest during last year’s Super Bowl in Minneapolis, a football clinic put on for kids who have mental and/or physical disabilities.
Pick 3, New York Jets: Freedom Akinmoladun, DE, Nebraska
The Jets have a need at the edge- enter Freedom Akinmoladun. Named to the 2018 Allstate AFCA Good Works team, Akinmoladun was named to the Brook Berringer and Tom Osborne Citizenship Teams in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 for his outreach work, while also earning Nebraska Student-Athlete HERO Leadership Awards in 2015 and 2016. Akinmoladun spent a week in the Dominican Republic as part of Nebraska’s No Filter Outreach trip, and has also volunteered his time with Uplifting Athletes, School is Cool, NFL Fuel Up to Play 60, Husker Heroes, Husker Hotline, and local school, hospital and community center outreach visits.
Pick 4, Oakland Raiders: Nathan Clayberg, DE, Drake
Oakland needs to protect Derek Carr, so a DE is a smart choice. Clayberg participates in Drake’s weekly off-campus reading program, and has founded two service organizations. He created UNITE to focus on restoring the areas of society that are most broken while empowering future young leaders to follow their dreams. Clayberg helped organize a community service day that involved hundreds of people across six different towns in South Central Iowa participating in 35 different service projects like painting, yard work and basic construction. He also founded the Next Step Moving Company to financially support specific non-profit efforts including Students Against Human Sex Trafficking, Des Moines Public Schools and Youth With a Mission. Clayberg was named to the 2018 AllState AFCA Good Works Team.
Pick 5, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson
Looking towards the future, Tampa Bay needs to account for an older Gerald McCoy. A finalist for the 2018 William V. Campbell Trophy, Wilkins became a certified substitute teacher during the 2018 offseason, indicating that he wanted to provide inspiration and guidance to K-12 students. An avid volunteer, Wilkins has worked with Habitat for Humanity, the Clemson Miracle Fundraiser, Colleges Against Cancer Relay for Life and the “Kicks, Cleats, Kids” initiative. He has also taken part in the Taylor Elementary Visionary Leaders program.
Pick 6, New York Giants: Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State
The Giants desperately need to protect a beleaguered Eli Manning in the pocket and give Saquon Barkley that room to run. Named a finalist for the 2018 William V. Campbell Trophy, Risner started the RiseUp Foundation to “encourage everyone to RISE above the evil and sin in this world and be a positive shining light in the lives of others.” The ultimate goal for the foundation is to motivate people through his words and actions, through his stories and his relationships. Risner also volunteered at Buttonwood Special Needs Home once a week and is a Big Brother to a young boy named Kayden battling leukemia. He was an active participant in Kansas State’s community activities as well.
Pick 7, Jacksonville Jaguars: Ethan Levin, DL, Macalester College
The Jags can afford to invest in their defensive line. Levin founded and runs Athletes Against Sexual Violence, a not-for-profit that speaks to college and high school male athletes about topics such as consent and sexual violence prevention. Levin also founded the Federation of Jewish Athletes. He leads his team’s public engagement program. Levin is the head administrator and organizer of Stay Woke Poetry, which teaches high school students slam poetry as a way to talk about difficult issues. He also teaches match and life skills to inner city youth as a part of Athletes Committed to Educating Students (ACES). Levin was named to the 2018 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.
Pick 8, Detroit Lions: Nic Weishar, TE, Notre Dame
The Lions are looking for a standout tight end for Stafford to work with. Named Captain Of Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, Weishar has been committed to giving back since his 21-year-old brother Andrew passed away after battling cancer. In the aftermath of his brother’s death, Weishar fulfilled his family’s promise to his brother to pay it forward by starting the Andrew Weishar Foundation to give back to families with adolescents or young adults stricken with cancer. The foundation aims to provide cancer patients and their families with a temporary escape from the disease through acts of kindness and generosity while also aiming to ease their financial burden. To date, The Andrew Weishar Foundation has aided more than 100 families affected by cancer and granted more than $600,000 in financial assistance.
Pick 9, Buffalo Bills: Max Scharping, OL, Northern Illinois
Josh Allen is only in his second year, so investing in some more protection at OL makes sense. Scharping was named a finalist for the 2018 William V. Campbell Trophy for his community efforts. He volunteers with the local YMCA, participates in Healthy Kids Day, hosts a football camp and tournament, and participates in reading programs at various elementary schools and daycares. Scharping regularly visits hospitals in DeKalb and Chicago and helped with clean-up efforts after tornadoes hit local cities.
Pick 10, Denver Broncos: Jared Henning, QB, Bemidji State
The Broncos are looking for a franchise quarterback to develop alongside veteran Joe Flacco. Henning has been on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) since his freshman year. As president, he coordinates fundraisers for Make-A-Wish and helping set up Mental Health Awareness/Sexual Violence Prevention presentations. Henning has helped establish Beaver Fever Fridays, which is an opportunity for Beaver student-athletes to read to youth in the community. He attends the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference SAAC Summit to take part in community outreach and leadership conventions and serves as a representative for all male sports on campus in regards to Title IX initiatives and issues on campus. Henning is also a lead member for the campus Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Pick 11, Cincinnati Bengals: Caleb Kelly, LB, Oklahoma
The Bengals need to improve at the linebacker position. Kelly has served food to needy families in the community, traveled with Sooners For Haiti and volunteered with youth camps and a camp for children with special needs, according to a release. The Fresno, Calif., native has also served as president for OU’s chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for the past two years. Kelly participated in the “The Right Conversation,” an event presented by OU Health Services, OU Athletics and the nonprofit Everyone Has a Story where he shared his mental health story to reduce the stigma around mental health. Kelly was named to the 2018 Allstate AFCA Good Works team.
Pick 12, Green Bay Packers: Jon Dicke, DL, Southwest Minnesota State University
The Packers are looking to improve on both sides of the ball, but bringing in a pass rusher is a good start. Dicke has participated in Mustang Mail, a community engagement program with local elementary schools. He has bagged and packaged meals for the United Way in Marshall, and volunteered for Relay for Life and SMSU Athletics Highway Clean-Up. Dicke has worked with the SMSU Physical Therapy Clinic, helping stretch, evaluate, and implement treatment programs for students attending the clinic with musculoskeletal issues. He has also held numerous leadership roles during his three years on the SMSU student senate. Dicke was named to the 2018 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.
Pick 13, Miami Dolphins: Easton Stick, QB, North Dakota State University
Miami is on the lookout for a long-term quarterback. A member of the 2018 AFCA Good Works Team and a finalist for the 2018 William V. Campbell Trophy, Stick was also a member of the NDSU Student-Athlete Advisory Council. Stick served on the Summit League Food Fight committee that raised more than $2,000 and collected 2,000 pounds of food for the Fargo Emergency Food Pantry. Stick helped raised $5,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and he organized the first on-campus football camp for the Special Olympics. He also participates in numerous hospital and school visits and serves as a guest speaker with various youth groups.
Pick 14, Atlanta Falcons: Kielan Whitner, LB, Syracuse
The Falcons can improve their defense with a linebacker addition. Whitner is the public relations director of the Syracuse University chapter of Uplifting Athletes, which is a nonprofit organization made up of a national network of chapters dedicated to inspiring the rare-disease community through the power of sport. Whitner helped organize the 2018 “Lift for Life,” which last year raised more than $11,000 to benefit those affected by rare diseases. He has completed a mission trip to Haiti and is a member of Central New York Chapter of The For a Day Foundation, which provides therapeutic experiences for sick children. He is also Syracuse’s player captain for Team IMPACT, a national nonprofit that connects children facing serious and chronic illnesses with local college athletic teams. He was named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works 2018.
Pick 15, Washington Redskins: Trent Solsma, QB, Morningside College
The Redskins need a franchise quarterback after their poor luck last season. Solsma was named to the 2018 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team for his continued work in east Africa. This past summer, he traveled with 6 other Morningside football players to Tanzania to lend their support to Project Rehema Ministries. While in Tanzania, Solsma and fellow players constructed a home that will house eight to 10 orphans and a “mama” or foster parent. The players poured the cement and laid the brick for the house as well as dug a 13-foot bathroom.
Pick 16, Carolina Panthers: Sean Pollard, OG, Clemson
The Panthers need a versatile offensive linemen to shore up protection for Cam Newton. A short drive across state lines is Sean Pollard. Pollard was named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works 2018 team for his service to the community. Pollard held his second annual ‘All Off For Cancer’ event in July 2018, which raised money to support families with children that are undergoing or have been treated for cancer or serious blood disorders.
Pick 17, New York Giants: Drue Tranquill, LB, Notre Dame
After trading Odell Beckham Jr. to Cleveland, the Giants can use this pick to continue to shore up their defense. Tranquill launched the “5th Quarter” postgame event in 2016, giving him the opportunity to share his story of perseverance with the South Bend Community. Tranquill has participated in three mission trips to the Dominican Republic, and he is an Athlete Ambassador for Dream Teams, a mentoring program in South Bend elementary schools. He serves as a football representative on the Student-Athlete Advisory Council and the Rosenthal Leadership Academy. He was named a finalist for the 2018 William V. Campbell Trophy.
Pick 18, Minnesota Vikings: Nick Leverett, OL, North Carolina Central University
Kirk Cousins needs a tighter offensive line to help improve their play next season. Named to the 2018 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, Leverett has volunteered for organizations including Habitat for Humanity, Durham Rescue Mission, Ronald McDonald House, Pizza for Homeless, “OneLove” Domestic Violence, Kiss Away Cancer, “Ties of Honor”, Feed-A-Family Thanksgiving, Toiletry Drive, Real Talk, Back-Pack Drive and FPG Bilingue Elementary School.
Pick 19, Tennessee Titans: Johnathan Lloyd, WR, Duke
Tennessee needs a receiver to add to Marcus Mariota’s arsenal. Named to the 2018 Allstate AFCA Good Works team, Lloyd spent a summer volunteering with the communications department at the Ronald McDonald House of Durham. He also helped organize of peer fundraising efforts for events. His other main community service location is Lakewood Elementary, where he has made frequent visits to tutor second graders.
Pick 20, Pittsburgh Steelers: Eric Stevenson, LB, Wheaton (Ill.)
The Steelers once historic defense has fallen on harder times as of late. Additions at linebacker can help bring back the Steel Curtain legacy. Stevenson participated in a mission and cultural exchange trip to China. Through the Wheaton Football Ministry Partnership, he traveled to the Dominican Republic, where he helped build new home structures in impoverished communities. He has volunteered with the Greater Chicago Food Depository and the Feed My Starving Children organization, and he interned twice with B.C. Ziegler and Company investment bank. He was named a finalist for the 2018 William V. Campbell Trophy.
Pick 21, Seattle Seahawks: Piercen Harnish, LB, St. Francis (Ind.)
With some departures on the defensive side of the ball this offseason, Seattle can benefit from adding some fresh talent. Harnish has participated in team housebuilding missions to El Salvador and Jamaica and works with the Fort Wayne Chapter of Forgotten Children. He volunteers for a wheelchair basketball tournament for children and adults with disabilities. Harnish assisted at the Fort Wayne Treasure House, which provides furniture and clothing to the needy. He was named a finalist for the 2018 William V. Campbell Trophy.
Pick 22, Baltimore Ravens: Patrick Laird, RB, UC Berkeley
While the Ravens need wide receiver help, the team had the most success on the ground last season. With a shaky passing game from Lamar Jackson, new addition Mark Ingram and company could use some fresh legs added to the mix. Laird launched the Patrick Laird Summer Reading Challenge to help fight summer learning loss and promoted it through traditional and social media as well as visits to 26 schools and camps in the Bay Area and near his hometown of Arroyo Grande in the San Luis Obispo area throughout the spring and summer. He was named to the 2018 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.
Pick 23, Houston Texans: Chase Moore, DB, Texas
The Texans need to shore up their downfield defensive play. Moore received the Dorothy L. Smith Marbridge Foundation Community Service Award from UT Athletics as the top male student-athlete for community engagement. He has been involved in speaking at multiple schools and churches as well as serving as a mentor at The Boys and Girls Club and YMCA. In July of 2017, Moore was a keynote speaker at a juvenile delinquency conference held by the Texas Juvenile Detention Association. Moore has also volunteered at the Special Olympics, Neighborhood Longhorns and many other organizations that impact the lives of children in the greater Austin area. He was named to the 2018 Allstate AFCA Good Works team.
Pick 24, Oakland Raiders: Hunter Sego, DB/P, DePauw
After the questionable Khalil Mack trade, Oakland is able to work on bringing in a corner who can improve their secondary. Sego has Type 1 diabetes and is an activist on behalf of diabetes patients. He has been to Congress several times to speak to U.S. representatives and senators. The Indiana Safe at School Act, more commonly known as Hunter’s Law, provides protection to students living with diabetes to allow them to carry and administer life-sustaining supplies to help throughout the day. Sego was named to the 2018 AllState AFCA Good Works Team.
Pick 25, Philadelphia Eagles: D’Cota Dixon, S, Wisconsin
The Eagles are looking for a safety addition to improve their secondary. An inspiration to others, Dixon was awarded the 2017 FWAA/Orange Bowl Courage Award for overcoming an unstable family life that included numerous foster homes, a father battling addiction and for surviving a life-threatening infection while at Wisconsin. Despite everything he endured, Dixon became a positive and active volunteer, and he was selected to the 2018 AFCA Good Works Team as well as named a finalist for the 2018 William V. Campbell Trophy. His numerous community activities include mentoring youth at a correctional center, developing a program for student-athletes aimed at reducing the stigma of seeking mental health services and speaking to countless community and youth groups.
Pick 26, Indianapolis Colts: Rodrigo Blankenship, K, Georgia
Adam Vinateri can’t play forever right? Indy needs fresh legs for some impending close games with their AFC South rivals this season. Named to the 2018 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, Blankenship is a member of the UGA Athletic Association’s Leadership Academy (L.E.A.D.). He is a spokesperson for “No More,” which is a public service announcement against domestic violence and sexual assault. Blankenship visits Camp Sunshine, a camp that provides support programs for children with cancer and their families. He has volunteered for the “Empty Bowl” luncheon sponsored by the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia where hand-painted ceramic bowls done by the football players were part of a silent auction to raise funds for needy families. Blankenship has also volunteered for the Home Runs for Hometown Rivals, which is a softball game at UGA’s Foley Field for Special Olympians.
Pick 27, Oakland Raiders: Drew Bevelhimer, K, Butler
Oakland also traded Amari Cooper to the Cowboys this offseason. Sebastian Janikowski isn’t losing a step quite yet, but can’t hurt to bring in some young blood. Bevelhimer was named to the 2018 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team for his involvement in Butler’s team community initiatives. The team works with Team Impact Organization to provide opportunities to engage youth like eight-year-old Robert Shaffer, who the football team signed as an honorary teammate. Shaffer was diagnosed with an incurable kidney condition. Bevelhimer is an active participant in Butler football’s youth clinic run every year for children with disabilities. He and nine other teammates spent time in the Czech Republic, Austria and Poland, teaching everything from English to football to physical education classes. .
Pick 28, Los Angeles Chargers: Kenneth Brinson, LB, Army
The Chargers could benefit from a dedicated and committed linebacker on that side of the ball. A finalist for the 2018 William V. Campbell Trophy, Brinson serves as the point of contact for all Army football clinics. He also assists with the football team’s efforts to support local and national food banks while serving as a peer tutor on campus.
Pick 29, Kansas City Chiefs: Trace McSorley, QB, Penn State
We were trying to keep things pretty realistic position wise here, but we were limited on position diversity. Clearly the Chiefs will stick with Patrick Mahomes this season, but Trace McSorley would be a welcome addition to the Chiefs squad. McSorley is extensively involved in Penn State’s Uplifting Athletes Chapter, serving as president of the organization in 2017 and vice president in 2018. McSorley serves as a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy and has participated in numerous “Lift for Life” events, raising money for kidney cancer treatments, and visiting local hospitals. He was named a 2018 William V. Campbell Trophy finalist.
Pick 30, Green Bay Packers: Taryn Christion, QB, South Dakota State
The Packers have this pick from a trade with New Orleans last offseason. Again, not sure the Packers are looking for a new QB with Aaron Rodgers at the helm, but fellow midwesterner Taryn Christion would be a great addition. Named a finalist for the 2018 William V. Campbell Trophy, Christion has made an impact in the community by helping organize the “Be The Match” bone marrow drive on campus the last two years. Active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, he has served as an event speaker and as a summer intern for the organization, and he has been a volunteer at Vacation Bible School.
Pick 31, Los Angeles Rams: De’Arius Christmas, LB, Grambling State
The Rams are looking to further bulk up their defense after a losing bid in the Super Bowl. A three-year volunteer with the Special Olympics, Christmas has participated in events with the Vicksburg Packers, including giving a speech for the city’s leadership team. He was also named a finalist for the 2018 William V. Campbell Trophy.
Pick 32, New England Patriots: Ryan Finley, QB, North Carolina State
Tom Brady is safe in New England as long as he wants, but as one of the oldest players in the league, his reign in the Northeast may be ending soon. Named a finalist for the 2018 William V. Campbell Trophy, Finley was a member of the team’s leadership council and represented the Wolfpack at the 2018 ACC Football Kickoff. Last season, he started a book club with other football student-athletes and coaches centered on personal development.