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Miami Hurricanes NFL Draft 2018: Who Should Leave and Who Should Stay

Mark Walton Making the Right Decision to Forgo Eligibility

NCAA Football: Virginia Tech at Miami Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

To declare or not to declare is the single greatest question for many draft eligible college football players. Some Miami Hurricane players, who opted to forgo eligibility, were Ereck Flowers and Artie Burns, both of whom became first round draft picks. On the flip side, there are other players who were bypassed in the draft and are unemployed. And don’t forget about Brad Kayaa, potential top 3 pick before 2016 started, and shockingly fell to 6th round status. It makes sense to declare in many instances. A 50k practice squad check is 50k more than what one makes as a college athlete. I am, however, of the opinion that if a player, depending on circumstances, isn’t a first or second round projected pick, that they should return to school to become that first or second round pick. Money is better, yes, and making a team and making an impact increases substantially as an early round selection. There’s also a sense of maxing out in college, getting the best of one’s collegiate situation which leads to a strong NFL career trajectory baring injury. Having made my preference, I’d like to evaluate whether certain underclassmen at Miami should consider leaving Miami after the Orange Bowl.

Defensive Tackles Kendrick Norton (23 tackles, 2 sacks ESPN stats) and R.J. Mcintosh (49 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble ESPN stats)

Although Norton and Mcintosh inarguably look the same in-game (similar height, build, weight, and awesome play), Mcintosh produced the better year statistically. That’s probably why Mcintosh was awarded 2nd team All-ACC status. Norton and Mcintosh in 2017 have to deal with a silly thing called perception. The 1st team All-ACC players on Clemson are perceived as being the class of the ACC, if not the nation, in terms of defensive linemen. We as Miami fans can argue relentlessly that Norton and Mcintosh are as good or better, but the stats and accolades don’t match up. If either wants to declare early, I am predicting a mid to late round draft status. There are better perceived players out there getting drafted before our Miami studs. Bradley Chubb, Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, etc. This time next year perhaps Norton and Mcintosh could be perceived by draft experts as the class of the ACC. That’s when I think this law firm gets picked high in a draft.

Cornerback Michael Jackson (39 tackles, 4 ints, and 1 sack ESPN stats)

MJ has had a solid year. There was a period starting with the FSU game and culminating in the UNC game in which MJ accounted for his 4 ints. He’s been as close to a lockdown corner Miami has fielded all season. MJ also made the All-ACC 2nd team. His name on the All-ACC press release is right next to Tavarus McFadden from FSU. I always thought McFadden should turn pro. I still am not too high on MJ’s draft day projections. McFadden has prototypical cornerback size and length, plus better speed and much more production. The kid from FSU is pegged as a first-round pick. Conversely, I would pick MJ around the 3rd or 4th rounds. But like I said earlier, who can fault a kid wanting to make a living playing professional football today rather than next year? Many of us don’t make $6000 a week, let alone to play football 17 weeks out of the year. If MJ wants a check, he should go pro. If he wants a bigger check, like 1st or 2nd round money, he’ll have to come back.

Running Back Mark Walton (career totals: 394 carries, 2006 yards, 26 touchdowns rushing, Palm Beach Post stat)

I’ll start off with this: Mark Walton is making the right decision to turn pro. Age is a premium among running backs, more so than any other position. Remember that Walton reclassified a few years ago, so he’s a relative young pup. Walton won’t likely be picked in the first round. But if he can go in the 3rd or 4th round, his decision to leave early works. Remember that Frank Gore and Duke Johnson left school early and were drafted in the 3rd round. The Dolphins picked Lamar Miller in round 4 after Lamar left school early. There is a strong history of Miami Hurricane running backs drafted mid round and producing at the next level. Also, practically, Walton’s decision makes sense. Running back is arguably set next year for Miami with an addition of Lorenzo Lingard to potentially back up Travis Homer.


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