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Miami Hurricanes 2017 NFL Draft Primer

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With all the draft profiles and projections of where these ‘Canes could land.

Pittsburgh v Miami Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

The path to the NFL draft is a marathon, not a sprint. Over the course of the next three days, 15 men will find out where they'll be playing for the foreseeable future. From practicing in the Senior Bowl to doing interviews for the sporting media's biggest outlets, with workouts and interviews sprinkled in the mix, the players have worked hard to fulfill their dreams. The pot of gold now sits in reach.

With 253 picks slated to be made from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, one can only wish that 15 of those picks end up being Miami Hurricanes players. The odds of that occurring are slim. Some members of the Hurricanes 2017 draft class will go undrafted. However, their NFL dream will not be completely dashed, since players have the opportunity to make a team as an undrafted free agent.

State of the U recently profiled all the draft eligible 'Canes:

David Njoku, Brad Kaaya, Corn Elder, Danny Isidora, Stacy Coley, Rayshawn Jenkins, Jamal Carter, Adrian Colbert, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Joseph Yearby, Justin Vogel, Jermaine Grace, Malcolm Lewis, Standish Dobard, Marquez Williams

Below we’ve listed an overview of each 'Cane. We’ve included our predictions for which round we expect them to be selected and discussions on which teams will be most ideal for them.

Chicago Bears Rookie Mini-Camp
David Njoku should be the next Miami TE taken in the first round since Greg Olsen in the 2007 NFL Draft
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

David Njoku (tight end)

David Njoku has been "That Dude" for Miami throughout the draft process. A favorite of those who have taken the time to do their homework, Njoku by all accounts still possesses limitless potential entering the NFL. Next in the great lineage of Hurricane tight ends who’ve played in the NFL, Njoku in every interview has made sure to praise the men who have come before him, often bringing up Jeremy Shockey (whom he is said to be close with). Kellen Winslow II has also been mentioned as a person who has helped Njoku on his path to the draft.

it takes just one team to fall in love with Njoku to make him the first TE selected in the 2017 draft. However, Alabama’s OJ Howard likely will be the first TE off the board. There are plenty of teams that need a dynamic player at such a mismatch position. Based on moves made in free agency, some teams will stay with the players they have, but other teams could be interested in Njoku: San Francisco, Dallas, New York, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Houston, Pittsburgh, Oakland.

Projected round selected: first round

Ideal fit: New York Giants

Brad Kaaya (quarterback)

Virginia v Miami Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The former face of Miami football looks to fill a similar role at the highest level of the game, and there are lofty expectations for him in the 2017 season. Brad Kaaya has helped the University of Miami, the institution he has called home and played for since his freshman year, gain a lot of praise. Kaaya is a UM guy through and through.

When you review Brad Kaaya's path to the draft and watch the film on him, you get a clear picture of what Brad brings to the table. He's a good short-to-intermediate passer who has enough mobility—but not an abundance of it, which concerns some people. He's a "sunny day QB,” which means that he works well in situations where the offensive line and passing options are good and he is protected. Unlike Patrick Mahommes, it's not in Kaaya’s game to make a buzz-worthy broken play with his athleticism.

Kaaya is a smart quarterback who has excelled at every level of football he's played. Miami is a better program in part because Brad Kaaya was what it needed to endure tumultuous times. The expectation is that Kaaya is viewed as a developmental QB, needing time to acclimate before earning serious playing time. Think of how New England has turned Jimmy Garappolo into a starter in a pinch and a tradeable asset. Teams that don’t have an immediate need at QB, but may be interested: Arizona, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, New York Giants.

Projected round selected: third round

Ideal fit: Pittsburgh Steelers

Stacy Coley (wide receiver)

If there is a player from this class who is poised to have a better pro career than college career, it will likely be Stacy Coley. Injuries dogged Coley during of his time in Miami; while we've seen flashes of that speed that had UM fans giddy, we never got consistent production out of him for much of his collegiate career. Fast, but not the fastest, Coley has the talent to become a solid third or fourth WR, with the potential to be more in the right system.

With Tedd Ginn Jr. now in New Orleans, Cam Newton and the Panthers’ offense could definitely use speed at WR to stretch the field vertically. Coley could be that guy on a team that made an appearance in the Super Bowl in 2016..

Projected round selected: third round

Ideal fit: Carolina Panthers

Corn Elder (cornerback)

At this point, we sound like a broken record when we say that how teams discredit Corn Elder based on his height (he measures under 6 feet). He is projected to play slot or nickel corner at the start of his NFL career. Five defensive back (nickel) formations have been highly used by teams trying to match up against three wide receivers and one tight end looks that have become common at the pro level. However, Elder is a better fit playing in a zone scheme than in a man-to-man defense, as he has been known to bite on double moves. Elder should be an immediate contributor to a team looking to improve their DB depth. Carolina, Dallas, San Francisco, Oakland, and dark- horse Seattle could be possible destinations. It's not crazy to say that Corn would fit in with just about any team.

Projected round selected: third round

Ideal Fit: Carolina Panthers

Rayshawn Jenkins (safety)

Two things work in Rayshawn Jenkin’s favor: his solid numbers at the collegiate level, and the labeling of him as a hybrid safety or a linebacker in the spirit of how the Arizona Cardinals implemented Deone Bucannon and how Carolina uses Shaq Thompson. Defenses need to find not just a shutdown corner but a second and third corner. A linebacker who can stay on the field and battle with TEs like Gronk and Jimmy Graham are now mandatory for an NFL defense.

Jenkins has the talent to be a matchup player but needs to be more consistent in his technique. Teams in the state of Ohio could definitely use the versatility Jenkins brings to a secondary. Tampa Bay and Houston would also be ideal landing spots for him.

Projected round selected: fourth round

Ideal fit: Cleveland Browns

Danny Isidora (guard)

Danny Isidora’s ability to drive off the line and not expose too much of himself in the middle of the line are key traits that have teams looking to acquire his services. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report further complimented Danny, stating, "His hand strength is solid when he locks horns with a defender, and he can redirect and drive-block once he's gained leverage."

Some NFL teams have had movement along their offensive lines, and a few teams will be in the market for a guard to solidify the unit. Miami, Seattle, and Cincinnati are three teams that have a need that Isidora could ideally fill. Analysts predict him to be a mid-round pick, which seems fair given his talent and position—tackles are valued higher than guards by NFL personnel. Isidora may not be a starter in his rookie year, but he should be one in the near future at guard, providing he stays tenacious, athletic, and dependable.

Projected round selected: third round

Ideal fit: Seattle Seahawks

Jamal Carter (safety)

Florida State v Miami Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Jamal Carter is considered a prototypical box safety who can shake off blocks and make a tackle on ball carriers close to the line of scrimmage. He has the look of a NFL safety at 6 foot 1 and 218 pounds, yet his inability to make plays on the ball in the air concerns teams. However, Carter has qualities that make him an interesting project; he can possibly be molded into a safety at the NFL level. He should start his career as a solid special teams contributor before he sees anything more than preseason snaps as a safety.

Projected round selected: fifth round

Ideal fit: Washington Redskins

Al-Quadin Muhammad (edge-rusher)

It's one thing when you're trouble to opposing offenses; it's another when you become a problem for your own. Suspended twice by the university, AQM's collegiate career was cut short, and he never reached his true potential as a Miami Hurricane. (Imagine what Coach Kuligowski could’ve done with AQM.)

Muhammad provides versatility regardless of where he lands. He’s rushed from the edge in a stand-up position as a 3–4 linebacker and with his hand on the ground as a 4–3 defensive end. AQM also has a decent repertoire of pass rush moves to rely on, a trait not too many pass-rushers have when entering the league—they instead often rely on their best one or two pitches and do not develop counters.

With the growth of the passing game, greater emphasis has been placed on pass-rushers and on teams to have the depth needed to bring pressure in waves regardless of the rotation.

AQM is a developmental prospect. He will need to come into a camp and prove that he belongs on a team this fall. While he’s physically imposing, that's not going to be enough for him to be successful at the next level. There may be some teams that feel they have the right environment for AQM to grow and develop his potential into a gem down the road.

Projected round selected: sixth round or undrafted

Ideal fit: New England Patriots

Adrian Colbert (cornerback)

With his versatility, Adrian Colbert should be able to translate his one year at The U into a solid NFL career, regardless of scheme. The 2016 season highlighted his versatility, as he was able to transition from being a safety in zone coverage to lining up in man-to-man coverage. Despite concerns about his speed and recovery, Colbert ran an excellent 40-yard dash that ranged from 4.25 to 4.40. His ability to use his strength in press and at the point of attack are skills that are sure to have a few teams interested in him in the later rounds. Like most late-round picks, look for him to be an immediate contributor on special teams before becoming a mainstay on defense.

Projected round selected: sixth round

Ideal fit: Seattle Seahawks

Jermaine Grace (linebacker)

After playing most of his collegiate career at 210 pounds, Jermaine Grace reportedly put on 10 more pounds and worked out with former UM strength and conditioning coordinator Andreu Swasey. As the kids would say, Grace got "swole". He ran a solid 40-yard dash ranging between 4.49–-4.58 and did 21 reps on the bench press before looking explosive in the drill portion to string together a solid day's worth of work. Grace mentioned to Susan Miller Degnan of the Miami Herald that he trained with WR Malcolm Lewis in Atlanta , as both turned in impressive performances.

The question surrounding Grace, just like AQM, is what kind of shape he’ll be in after spending a year away from football. They answered that on Pro Day, showing that they're in tremendous shape. That said, one fewer season means that Grace may not have learned the lessons that are picked up through playing games, the ones that film can illustrate but still need to be experienced firsthand. Consequently, Grace will be playing catch up as a rookie—but so will every rookie. Fair or not, Grace will be further punished for missing the 2016 season, but he has the physical traits and work ethic to be a potential asset in seasons to come if groomed properly and placed in a favourable situation.

Projected round selected: undrafted

Ideal fit: Philadelphia Eagles

Malcolm Lewis (wide receiver)

Malcolm Lewis has received some positive draft buzz. Although he was not invited to the college all-star contest or the National Scouting Combine, Lewis used UM's Pro Day to showcase why a team should take a chance on him—a player who, although not featured in the offense, has the talent to be a solid contributor at the next level. His performance may have given teams a reason to consider him before and during the latter portion of the draft. Stringing together a solid performance at UM’s Pro Day, it remains to be seen if Lewis has done enough to merit a late-round selection. While he's projected to go undrafted, Lewis should still earn a tryout, perhaps taking a different path to the NFL than others in his class.

Projected round selected: undrafted

Ideal fit: LA Rams

Joseph Yearby (running back)

Miami v Cincinnati Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Joseph Yearby is definitely a guy who teammates love and want to see do well, but fans and outsiders were a bit perplexed by his decision to enter into a running back–heavy draft. With so much talent at the RB position in the draft, it was understandable why he was not invited to the NFL Combine in March. Then came the University of Miami Pro Day, which was a mixed bag of positives and negatives for him. Yearby looked great in drills and performed up to par, as expected. However, with a 40-yard-dash time that ranged from 4.5 to 4.7, you'd be hard-pressed to tell Yearby that 40 times are overrated.

Looking at projections, Yearby is expected by most draft analysts and outlets to be a priority free agent after the draft, an outcome that is still likely to happen. This is probably the best scenario for Yearby, as he will have the opportunity to choose which team fits his game best and get a lay of the land after the dust settles from the draft.

Projected round selected: undrafted

Ideal fit: Washington Redskins

Standish Dobard (tight end)

Standish Dobard held up well on Pro Day, reminding us of the guy who excelled during spring practices for his sophomore and junior seasons. Dobard will go undrafted, and he’ll remain a project for any team interested in grooming the six-foot-four, 252-pound man as either a TE or DL. The more a player can do, the better his chances of making the team. Given Dobard's willingness to do what's best for the team, his football intelligence and lunch pail attitude will endear him to his new employer, similar to how they endeared him to a college program and fanbase.

Projected round selected: undrafted

Ideal fit: Minnesota Vikings

Justin Vogel (punter)

When it comes to special teams, you want your players to be accurate and consistent. Justin Vogel has been both of these things before auditioning for an opportunity to be in the NFL. Punters generally warrant a late-round selection, and it would make sense for a team to address other needs before addressing the special-teams portion of the team. Vogel will be on a roster, whether he is selected in the seventh round or as a priority free agent.

Projected round selected: seventh or undrafted

Ideal fit: San Francisco 49ers

Marquez Williams (fullback)

If there were more teams across the NFL that used fullbacks, then a prediction of Marquez Williams being a late-round pick could make sense. Unfortunately, there aren't that many teams that employ their services. Given that the snap count for most of the league's fullbacks are situationally dependent, there is no urgency in addressing this need until the closing moments of the draft.

Projected round selected: undrafted

Ideal fit: New England Patriots

Random predictions

  • Artie Burns and Anthony Chickillo will be joined by another UM alumnus next season
  • Brad Kaaya won't love the round he's selected in, but he'll end up in an ideal situation: in an apprenticeship role behind a very good QB he can learn from
  • Njoku will likely be drafted any time after the 18th pick by the Titans.
  • With five former Hurricanes on their roster, the Jacksonville Jaguars are a ‘Cane-friendly destination
  • The LA Chargers are a close second with four former UM players on the roster.

Let us know your predictions for members of the group in the comments section.