clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Staying or Going? The Latest on Draft-Eligible Miami Hurricanes’ 2022 NFL Draft Prospects and Early Draft Analysis

New, 28 comments

Charleston Rambo is Likely the Star of this Miami Draft Class But Many More Canes Are Making/Have Made Important Decisions. Latest on Decisions and Senior Bowls

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 06 Georgia Tech at Miami Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In spite of a decline in recent years, the NFL Draft and Miami Hurricanes have gone together like peanut butter and jelly over the past few decades. In fact, the 2021 NFL Draft appears to have put the Canes’ back in the draft conversation after having two drafted in the first round and four total. For 2022, the Canes have plenty of draft-eligible prospects but it is unclear the status on most of those prospects.

Below is the latest on draft-related decisions, senior bowl options, and analysis on the draft-eligible Canes:

Charleston Rambo/WR, Redshirt Junior (as of 2021), 6-1, 185lbs:

Decision: Declared, Playing in East-West Shrine Bowl

Draft Range: Mid-Round

Rambo needed a bounce back year in 2021 after a downyear at Oklahoma in 2020. He did just that and more as the main target throughout the season for the Canes as he set single-single program records with 1,172 yards and 79 receptions. Rambo displays an unbelievable catch radius, contested catchability, as well as incredible range in his route running, and should be considered by many teams in the mid rounds. Rambo is in the next tier after the top echelon of receivers such as Garrett Wilson, Jameson Williams, Drake London, Jahan Dotson, Chris Olave, David Bell, and Treylon Burks.

D’Eriq King/QB, Redshirt Senior, 5-11, 195lbs:

Decision: Declared, East-West Shrine Bowl

Draft Range: UDFA

There’s no doubt King has the attitude that would bring value to any organization. The bigger question is how King could realistically to any NFL program after an injury-plagued college career. He battled back time and time again and there are rumors he may try the QB-turned-WR Braxton Miller route at the pro level. Regardless of what King decides whether it be trying to carve out a role as a quarterback, skill position player, or even the coaching path, he will find success somewhere in football.

Cam’Ron Harris/RB, Junior, 5-10, 214lbs:

Decision: Declared

Draft Range: UDFA

A less-than-ideal injury in 2021 may have diminished Harris’ draft stock that had been rising prior to injury. However, Harris would have been hard-pressed to return in a running back room consisting of young stars Jaylan Knighton, Donald Chaney Jr., Thaddius Franklin Jr., and Cody Brown. Harris has the freakish athleticism (hit 23.07 MPH last year during a 75-yard touchdown run) and talent to get plenty of looks among draft scouts. The 5-10, 214lb back should also test well at his Pro Day as he has registered a 3-cone time of 6.88, squats 525 pounds, and benches 365.

Practically speaking, if you play fantasy football, there’s a good chance you have scoured the waiver wire for running backs. And, to that end, you’ve likely had undrafted running backs on your roster. For example, James Robinson is already a bellcow in Jacksonville, the Chiefs’ Darrel Williams was undrafted and has more fantasy points than first round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Jermar Jefferson was nearly the last pick in Detroit in 2021 but gets playing time, Myles Gaskin in Miami was a seventh rounder, and even Austin Ekeler was undrafted before joining the Chargers. While it is an uphill battle, Harris has as good a shot as any to make his way into the NFL, especially if he impresses at the Pro Day with his athleticism. He should be the latest ProCane running back in the NFL following the path of Seahawks’ Deejay Dallas and Travis Homer.

Bubba Bolden/S, Redshirt Junior, 6-3, 204lbs:

Decision: Declared, East-West Shrine Bowl

Draft Range: Day Three-UDFA

Bolden was hampered by injuries in 2021, which precluded chances of elevating his already high preseason draft stock. Similar to Harris at running back, it will be a metaphorical changing of the guard at the safety position as Miami has much up-and-coming promise with James Williams, Avantae Williams, and Kam’ren Kinchens.

Bolden did recently say he is ‘ahead of schedule’ with his injury rehabilitation and preparing for the draft process. However, he will be relying on his tape from the first half of 2020 to remain on teams’ radars. The biggest issue with Bolden was consistency but there is a lot of upside as at least one former player said “He’s a (lesser) version of Minkah Fitzpatrick.”

To that end, the transfer Safety exhibited immense competence as an open field tackler and instinctual player NFL teams will love but needs to prove his worth through repetitions in coverage.

Jarrid Williams/OT, Redshirt Senior, 6-6, 310lbs:

Decision: Declared, Playing in Hula Bowl

Draft Range: UDFA

The seventh year senior had his ups and downs during his two seasons at Miami but he graded out nicely according to PFF as he was 21st among all FBS tackles with an 84.7. Williams offers the frame to get it done with good length and strength at 6-6, 310lbs. He has plenty of experience as he has ample starting time when healthy, but did suffer a season-ending leg injury in 2020. Williams will play in the Hula Bowl where he will try to showcase his talents one last time as he hopes to be a day three pick or priority free agent pickup.

Zach McCloud/DE-LB, Redshirt Senior, 6-2, 254lbs:

Decision: Declared, Playing in NFLPA Collegiate Bowl

Draft Range: UDFA

McCloud was plenty seasoned going into this year as he ended up tallying 192 tackles in 59 games. He displayed leadership as a two-time captain and versatility by switching from linebacker to defensive end this past year. That willingness to change positions will be necessary at the next level as he’ll likely have to grind his teeth via the special teams route initially.

Deandre Johnson/DE, Redshirt Senior, 6-3, 260lbs:

Decision: Declared

Draft Range: UDFA

When Miami picked up Deandre Johnson, the hope was he would help the defensive line recoup some of what they lost by way of the Jaelan Phillips, Gregory Rousseau, and Quincy Roche departure. The Miami native displayed immense athleticism at Tennessee as he garnered 28 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and forced 2 fumbles in 2020 (in eight games). However, his production leveled off as he ended 2021 with 26 tackles and 4.5 sacks (in 11 games played).

Last year, Johnson told Manny Navarro of the Athletic that “once I got that fifth- through seventh-round grade last year, I said it has to be strictly football. Last year, I started off hot, had four sacks through the first two games, had a lot of buzz. I had a chance to raise my draft stock with combines and meetings, but there’s no combines this year. I said I’m going to go back to school, put it all together and I’m going to shoot up those draft boards.”

It is unclear where Deandre grades by NFL draft scouts at this point after the 2021 season, but a late round flier seems a bit high. Regardless, Johnson was prepared to opt out of the Sun Bowl before it was cancelled, which likely indicates he is being told he should be drafted.

Mike Harley Jr./WR, Senior, 5-11, 182lbs:

Decision: Declared, Playing in Hula Bowl

Draft Range: Late Round/UDFA

Harley answered the call in 2020 after the wide receiver corps experienced struggles. The slot WR put together a productive campaign as he compiled 57 receptions for 799 yards and 7 TDs. Harley worked hard to get to that point, but needed to repeat his 2020 performance to raise his draft stock. In the past couple of seasons, the draft classes have been slot-laden and 2021 may be no different.

Of note, the hard-working slot option did not have an exceptional year as he tallied 543 yards on 57 receptions with five TDs, but he did add some special teams experience showing he is willing to help the team anywhere on the field. Harley carried the torch left by Braxton Berrios and KJ Osborn as the most dedicated guy in the wide receiver room who poured his blood, sweat, and tears into the program every day. So if Berrios and Osborn’s ProCanes success is any indicator, Harley is worth taking a shot on.

Jon Ford/DT, Senior, 6-5, 315lbs:

Decision: Declared

Draft Range: UDFA

Similar to Deandre Johnson, Ford opted out of the Sun Bowl in order to prepare for the NFL Draft. And while Ford’s production was not ideal for someone who would make that move - all three sacks of his career came in 2019 - he has something you absolutely cannot teach: Size. the 6-5, 315lb interior defensive lineman can be an absolute space eater in the middle. If he can show he has the NFL level conditioning, he may be a sneaky pickup for teams that need bodies (which is becoming more apparent in this COVID age football).

Amari Carter/S, UDFA:

Decision: Declared, Playing in Hula Bowl

Draft Range: UDFA

Carter was a captain and may be limited to special teams play at the next level. He is big-bodied and athletic, so his willingness to move to striker this year may be gleaned as a positive for versatility amongst NFL scouts.

Jordan Miller/DT, Redshirt Sophomore, 6-4, 320lbs:

Decision: Likely Returning

Miller has a lot of untapped potential but is definitely beginning to hit his stride after a solid 19 tackle season. With the addition of USC’s Jacob Lichenstein, he will likely be part of a rotation including Leonard Taylor, Jared Harrison-Hunte, and possible Nesta Jade Silvera. While it seems like he may be one that could be fazed out, Miller’s athleticism is undeniable - he benches 445 pounds, squats 625 and possesses a 28.5-inch vertical jump, as well as 4.79 shuttle.

Nesta Silvera/DT, Junior, 6-2, 306lbs:

Decision: Unclear

Draft Range: UDFA

Some of Silvera’s recent social media activity indicate his story at the U is still unwritten. Silvera was a borderline five-star recruit and is the No. 48 recruit all-time for Miami according to 247Sports. He remains an interior pass rusher with the top tier profile to back it up. Despite some injury concerns, NFL scouts have reportedly liked what they saw from Silvera as a junior, but he did not get enough consistency to grade him as an early round selection. He has unfortunately dealt with lingering injuries. However, one former Miami player reportedly said, according to Manny Navarro of the Athletic, “He needs to be in the top 10. He’s their best defensive tackle.” Silvera should likely return and would be part of a deep tackle group. If he puts it all together in a healthy campaign, his draft stock should also rise.

Tyrique Stevenson/CB, Third Year Sophomore, 6-0, 214lbs:

Decision: 50/50

Draft Range: Late Round/UDFA

Stevenson has expressed that he is still weighing his options as it relates to the 2022 draft. There are also reports that the transfer has dealt with a shoulder injury throughout the 2021 season. Lastly, there is also speculation that Stevenson has a desire to work with Mario Cristobal.

Stevenson teetered with five-star recruit status as he was labeled the third best CB in the country. As a physical and athletic CB, the skill set is there to be considered in the upper echelon of defensive backs for the 2022 NFL Draft. However, whether due to injury or otherwise, he did leave some to be desired in 2021.

As he ponders his decisions, and should he return, NFL teams will value and like to see the versatility - if he can line up as a coverage CB on outside, as well as slide over to nickel/safety, which appears to be his more natural fit with his physical presence. That is, Stevenson is really good at the line of scrimmage and one scout compared him to a bigger version of Antrel Rolle and also said he “could be a first-rounder because he’s big and physical and can play corner and safety.”

Navaughn Donaldson/OL, Senior, 6-6, 350lbs:

Decision: Likely Returning

Draft Range: UDFA

Donaldson is the 66th all-time Miami recruit according to 247Sports, so the raw athleticism is there. Donaldson redshirted in 2020 after he finished the 2019 season with a leg injury, and then returned in full for the 2021 season.

Regardless, he has been the most experienced and consistent fixture on the what has been a turbulent offensive line. The Miami native has led by example on the field by enrolling early, and, despite playing most comfortable at right tackle, has played games at right tackle, right guard, left guard, and also was willing to take repetitions at center when Gaynor was experiencing injury issues - which may signal a possible shift to him at center based on Gaynor’s transfer status. The 6-6, 350lb exhibits top notch run-block mauling ability and overall physical traits along with his willing versatility. At least one source has given him a fifth round draft projection, but his conditioning has been brought into question and will be vetted out during the draft process. You can’t teach size and a team will take a chance on Donaldson but an additional year will be helpful to prove his conditioning is where it needs to be.

Zion Nelson/OL, Third Year Sophomore, 6-5, 316lbs:

Decision: Unclear

Draft Range: Day Three/UDFA

This is Nelson’s first year of eligibility and he graded pretty well at 73.1. However, Nelson was largely regarded as a first-round choice going into the 2021 season. At season’s end, you would be hard-pressed to find him on any mock draft. It is reported that Nelson is awaiting draft grades, but another year at Miami is the only option as the 6-5, 316lb continues to build on his athleticism and quick feet.

Jahfari Harvey/EDGE, Third Year Redshirt Freshman, 6-4, 252lb:

Decision: Likely Returning

Draft Range: Day Three/UDFA

Harvey is an athletic EDGE pass rusher who was looked upon to step up in light of the tripartite exodus of Phillips, Rousseau, and Roche. Last year, a scout noted that Jahfari is “OK. I’m not as high on him as some of the other ends they’ve had.” Harvey should be a key piece at the edge again in 2022.

DJ Ivey/CB, UDFA, Junior, 6-1, 195lbs:

Decision: Unclear

Draft Range: UDFA

In 2020, Ivey was a full-time starter at the cornerback position and put together a stat line of 36 tackles, one interception, and four pass breakups as he had the most snaps at the position. Ivey exhibits nice length and ranked 22nd in coverage snaps per reception by allowing one reception every 14.7 coverage snaps (as most Canes did, he had his worst performance against UNC). Working under new secondary coach, Travaris Robinson, the physical CB did not really take a big step productivity-wise so will likely work with the coaches an additional year to see if he can put himself back in the NFL conversation.

Will Mallory/TE, Junior, 6-5, 245lbsJunior, 6-5, 245lbs

Decision: Returning

Mallory started the season off a little slow and unfortunately will be more remembered for the dropped touchdown against Michigan State than his 347 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns. Regardless of the turnaround, Mallory made a sound decision in returning for 2022 where he can really help his progress in another year of working with Tyler Van Dyke. He has impressed in both catching and blocking opportunities, and has the chance to really shoot up draft boards if 2022 goes as planned.

Lou Hedley/P, Redshirt Junior, 6-4, 225lbs:

Decision: Returning

Hedley was a finalist for the Ray Guy Award in 2020 but, as the stand up guy that he is, stood by his promise to give the Canes three years. Hedley then fired the Miami faithful up even more when he announced he would be returning for 2022.

Hedley played just fine in 2021 and likely could have declared, but Miami gets a nice little addition on the all-important third phase in 2022.