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Way-Too-Early Look Ahead Toward The 2018 NFL Draft

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A Few Names That Might Follow The U Legacy Next Year

NCAA Football: Duke at Miami Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay have gone into hibernation for the summer…or at least till a few weeks before the 2018 NFL Draft on April 26-28.

Nine former Hurricanes were selected in the 2017 NFL Draft proving that Miami really is TE-U along with showing that the Canes are the premier route to the pros in the state of Florida.

Miami, as many know, is second in draft picks with 104 selections since 2000.

However, this article is not going to focus on the men that used to don the orange and green, but the current troopers under Head Coach Mark Richt.

Here are five Hurricanes who might declare for the 2018 NFL Draft with hopes of joining this esteemed club:

Mark Walton: The Canes workhorse tailback is heading into his junior year after having a marvelous sophomore campaign where he rushed for 1,117 yards and 14 touchdowns. The All-ACC Third Teamer will be relied on heavily by Richt and his staff this season with an inexperienced quarterback under center. Look for Walton to be toward the top of the ACC rushing leaders, and potentially make the jump to the next level (forgoing his senior season).

Career Statistics - Rushing (two seasons): 339 ATT, 1,578 YDS, 4.7 AVG, 23 TD

Chris Herndon IV: Herndon started all, but one game for Miami in 2016 and performed extremely well in the Hurricanes’ two tight end set. The rising senior hauled in 28 passes totaling 334 yards with two touchdowns. The Norcross, Georgia native has pro measurable at 6’4” and 252 lbs, and would serve as a great addition to a team that wants a “do-it-all” tight end.

Career Statistics - Receiving (three seasons): 46 REC, 571 YDS, 12.4 AVG, 3 TD

Chad Thomas: When Thomas isn’t dropping beats for Rick Ross, he is laying it all on the line on the gridiron. The Booker T. Washington product racked up 37 tackles including 11.0 for loss and recorded 4.5 sacks as well as three pass break ups as a steady contributor on Manny Diaz’s aggressive defense. A unit that is supposed be one of the best in the nation, Thomas could elevate his game in his final season in Coral Gables and could prove to have the intangibles that NFL scouts look for.

Career Statistics – Defensive (three seasons): 62 TT, 13.5 TFL, 5.5 SACK, 2 FF, 7 PBU

Kendrick Norton: Teams had trouble running up the middle against Miami’s defense last season and a big part is in thanks to Norton. The defensive playmaker finished with 39 total tackles including 10.0 for loss and tallied 2.0 sacks. The 6’3, 312 lbs defensive lineman was tabbed All-ACC Third Team by the conference’s coaches after a productive sophomore campaign. If Norton can have a breakout junior season, the Jacksonville, Florida native might take a shot at playing at the next level as year early.

Career Statistics – Defensive (two seasons): 58 TT, 11.5 TFL, 3.0 SACK, 1 FF, 0 PBU

R.J. McIntosh: A bit more of an outside shot to take the leap to the pros, but McIntosh took a big step forward in 2016 finishing with 42 total tackles including 8.5 for loss and collected 2.0 sacks. With Miami set to face some quality running backs on their schedule, McIntosh could move himself a little bit closer into the eyes of scouts.

Career Statistics – Defensive (two seasons): 46 TT, 9.5 TFL, 2.5 SACK, 0 FF, 2 PBU

Names like Braxton Berrios and KC McDermott could also be Hurricanes selected in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Only time will tell for the men in the 305 looking to play in the big leagues.