We never like to see our Canes leave UM early to the NFL Draft, but sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do. It’s bound to happen at least with one player every season, the NFL’s argument is frequently just too good. For Miami this offseason, Joe Jackson, Travis Homer and Venzell Boulware have all declared early for the NFL Draft.
Looking ahead a year, there are several current underclassmen Hurricanes that could jet to the NFL early in 2020.
Jonathan Garvin (DE):
Garvin is the most obvious for this list. The rising-junior has simply been phenomenal since he stepped on campus. Playing behind Chad Thomas, Trent Harris and Joe Jackson in 2017 as a freshman, Garvin still managed to record two sacks, as well a fumble-recovery.
I've watched a lot of 'Canes junior DE Joe Jackson (he's one of the toughest early round EDGE prospects for me to peg this year) and Miami's other DE - soph. Jonathan Garvin - flashes every time. High upside player for 2020/21.— James Thomas (@JamesThomasHT) November 5, 2018
Moving to the starting position in 2018, Garvin jumped out onto the scene as a sophomore. His 17.0 TFLs were the second most a Miami defensive lineman has notched since 2006, though he was probably the third most dominant d-lineman for the Canes behind Jackson and Gerald Willis III. Going along with his TFLs, Garvin registered 5.5 sacks and returned one of his two fumble recoveries for a touchdown.
Going into 2019, Garvin is regarded as one of the top DE’s in the nation, and now being the leader of the Miami defensive line, we can only expect a monster season from #97. And as far as the NFL goes, if history is any indication for Miami defensive ends, we could very well see Garvin depart early.
CFB TOP RETURNEES 2019— CFB Focus (@cffmwachsman) January 25, 2019
1 Kenny Willekes/Michigan State
2 Chase Young/Ohio State
3 Nick Coe/Auburn
4 Jonathan Garvin/Miami Fla
5 Xavier Thomas/Clemson
6 AJ Epenesa/Iowa
7 JaQuan Bailey/Iowa State
8 Curtis Weaver/Boise State
9 Jabari Zuniga/Florida
10 Rashad Weaver/Pittsburgh
Jeff Thomas (WR):
The prodigal son has returned to Miami, and oh we’re so happy to see him back. One of the most talented receivers the Hurricanes have seen in years, Thomas possesses the speed and the hands to be an NFL receiver. What he lacks in height, the St.Louis native makes up with his dynamic playmaking ability.
I am officially starting the Jeff Thomas heisman campaign pic.twitter.com/6SXTCrrTYm— TNM Manny Montana (@L0soJr) September 16, 2018
2018 saw Thomas transform into one of the most productive WR’s in the nation, at least for a few months. In 11 games, Thomas hauled in 35 catches, 563 yards and three touchdowns, and remember, most of this was with Malik Rosier at quarterback. Thomas also returned a punt for a score, and averaged 24.6 yards a punt return.
With the right quarterback play, Thomas is a Biletnikoff Award winning caliber receiver. Although 2020 looks like a stacked year at the receiver position, Thomas could potentially be one of those top guys.
DeeJay Dallas (RB):
If there’s been one player that has fit the U like a glove in the past couple years, it’s Dallas. Showing versatility at the running back position as a freshman in 2017, the Georgia native broke out in 2018 with 617 yards and six touchdowns, and all these stats came behind Travis Homer.
Happy Birthday, DeeJay Dallas! pic.twitter.com/tBdBJz1Trx— GO ‘CANES! (@83_87_89_91_01) September 16, 2018
Along with Jeff Thomas, Dallas also showed off his return skills.
Dallas has the intangibles that would make a solid NFL running back with his size and height, though 2019 he’ll look to improve on his speed. This season Dallas will most likely be number-one on the Canes RB depth chart, so look for “The Ambassador” to increase his draft stock.
Trajan Bandy (CB):
Probably the least likely Cane to declare early in 2020, that doesn't mean it can’t happen for Bandy. This cornerback grabbed everyone’s attention with his pick-six against Notre Dame in 2017 and solid freshman play, and then in 2018 it was Bandy’s season stats that were turning heads.
A little undersized at 5”9, it didn’t stop Bandy and Michael Jackson developing into one of the top cornerback tandems in America, helping Miami rank first in the country in pass defense. Bandy was selected to the All-ACC Third Team, coming in as one of the top CB’s in the nation.
Trajan Bandy was lockdown in coverage against Virginia Tech today pic.twitter.com/aScecTDZYa— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 18, 2018
Bandy was the breakout star for Miami in 2018, and just like Dallas and Garvin, the veteran players at their position are now gone to the NFL, so don’t be surprised to see Bandy receive some national accolades in 2019, that may just push him to the Draft early.
You also have Navaughn Donaldson at offensive lineman, but that seems very unlikely. The good news for Miami is that the strength of their team right now is their youth. While I expect Garvin to leave early for the 2020 Draft, I'd be surprised to see the other three depart.