Everyone knows that some of the best high school and college football in the nation is played right here in the state of Florida and over the years, many of the stars from those universities have gone on to play for the Dolphins. Whether it’s current Fins Brandon Marshall (UCF), Vernon Carey (Miami), or Channing Crowder (Florida); or some of the heroes of the past like Larry Little (Bethune-Cookman), Trace Armstrong (Florida), Terrell Buckley (FSU), and Woody Bennett (Miami), the in-state schools have always helped to stock the roster. In fact, more Hurricanes have played for the Dolphins (21) than any other college or university.
The question now is: “Who’s next?” There are plenty of potential stars coming out of schools in the Sunshine State this year and John Congemi is here to let you know who they are…
Sunshine State Prospects, by John Congemi
Usually the “Big Three” in the Sunshine State have the biggest and brightest stars, but some of the other schools are starting to make some noise when looking at NFL rosters. Here’s a quick look at what the state of Florida has to offer in this year’s draft:
The University of Miami: Since 1999, the “U” has turned out 67 players selected in the NFL Draft, with 33 selections in the first round. Nationally, only Ohio State has had more total players drafted with 77. Here’s a look of what UM players have a chance of being selected later this month…
Leonard Hankerson (WR): Led UM last season in receiving yards (1,156) and touchdown receptions with 13. Good speed and size to project at the NFL level. I’m not sure if Hankerson can crack the first round of the draft, but he definitely has the ability to land in the second round of this year’s draft.
Brandon Harris (CB): Harris is leaving UM after his junior season and projections are leaning towards being selected in the second round. A versatile cornerback that will give an NFL team instant returns on their investment.
Allen Bailey (DL): Questions abound when projecting Bailey’s position and impact when NFL teams evaluate him. Looks the part, but may have under-achieved at UM. Terrific athlete that just needs to find the right defensive system and coach to bring out his full abilities in the league. I wouldn’t be surprised if he slips into the third round of this draft, but someone may take a chance in the second.
Orlando Franklin (OL): Versatile offensive lineman that can play both guard or tackle. Has the foot speed and the wingspan to play tackle in the NFL, but might get playing time quicker inside at the guard position.
Colin McCarthy (LB): Whoever gets McCarthy will find that he plays with great instincts and can be flexible enough to play multiple positions. The Senior Bowl week really helped him showcase those traits and look for Colin’s name to be called most likely in the third round.
DeMarcus Van Dyke (CB): DeMarcus has speed on his side after posting the fastest 40-yard dash time at this year’s Combine. That could open some doors seeing that former UM and current Green Bay Packers DB Sam Shields used his speed and skill set to propel him into a starting assignment at the next level.
The University of Florida: Last year’s draft showed why the Florida Gators have been so dominant in college football. Nine players were selected in total, three in the first round, and the majority of them made an impact with their respective teams. Here’s a look at who’s next…
Mike Pouncey (OL): Great size, athleticism and versatility for an interior lineman. May follow in the footsteps of his brother Maurkice who was selected 18th overall by the Steelers in last year’s draft. Everything that you read about Mike has him being selected around the middle of the first round. Looks like a player that will settle in and be productive for a long time in the NFL.
Ahmad Black (DB): A slow 40-yard dash time at this year’s Combine may have scared some scouts and personnel directors off, but his on-field collegiate production can’t be ignored. Ahmad is a gambling type of DB who has a knack for finding the football and coming up with big plays. The third round might be a stretch but he should go before the fifth round.
Will Hill (DB): Hill is likely a middle round selection, and may go later that that because of problems away from the football field. He has good size and instincts, but not enough to go any higher in my estimation.
Florida State University: During the 1990’s, Florida State arguably assembled as much NFL ready talent as anyone in the country. This year they’re down in total numbers, but have two players that will impact the draft…
Christian Ponder (QB): It seems that Ponder is moving up on everybody’s mock draft lists after strong performances in the Senior Bowl and during his personal workouts. Athletic and accurate, Ponder’s biggest obstacle will be to stay healthy in the NFL. Multiple injuries to his right throwing arm in college raised some red flags, but all reports now say that he’s throwing pain free and impressing talent evaluators across the league.
Rodney Hudson (C): Great size and quickness from the center position. Athletic enough to play in any scheme and should make an impact right away. According to the FSU coaching staff, Hudson wasn’t flagged for a single penalty throughout the 2010 season! He should be selected somewhere in the second round and some rank him first at his position.
The University of South Florida: Relatively new on the scene when it comes to having players drafted to the NFL, USF made a huge impact in last year’s draft. Five players were selected in the 2010 draft class highlighted by the 15th overall selection of defensive end Jason Piere-Paul to the New York Giants. This year’s numbers won’t match last year’s, but here are some names to look for…
Terrell McClain (DT): McClain has the prototypical frame to play over the offensive center or between the guard and center. Moves really well and has a wealth of playing experience, but still looked upon as an unfinished product or project player. I would expect if Terrell is selected, it would be a day three selection.
Dontavia Bogan (WR): Not much production in 2010 and probably will be fortunate if selected in the late rounds of the draft.
The University of Central Florida: Brandon Marshall’s alma mater continues to raise its football profile…
Bruce Miller (LB): Miller can line up at multiple positions and has the ability to rush the quarterback. He might project as a weak-side linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Mixed reviews about if and where he might be selected, but definitely a day two or three selection.
Jah Reid (OT): The 6’7″ Reid is projected to be a 2nd round pick by ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr., and has come a long way since he arrived at the Orlando campus.
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