Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Anxious time for UConn's NFL prospects

Last year at this time it wasn't so much a question of if Byron Jones and Geremy Davis would be taken in the NFL draft but just when would the former UConn teammates hear their names called.

Jones joined Donald Brown as the only UConn player taken in the first round when the Dallas Cowboys took him with the 27th overall pick while Davis was selected by the New York Giants in the sixth round.

There's more of a wait and see approach with the current crop of UConn pro prospects.

At least one UConn player has been selected in each of the last nine NFL drafts and safety Andrew Adams seems like the most likely player capable of extending that streak.

While no former Huskies are listed on the ESPN draft database, Adams is the No. 13 free safety according to NFL Draft database maintained by www.cbsspports.com which I have found to be pretty accurate (or as accurate as these things get) in rating the under the radar prospects. Adams is rated as the 291st best player in the draft and lists him as either a seventh rounder or a free agent. Last year's No. 13 rated free safety was Ladarius Gunter out of Miami who went undrafted but was signed by the Green Bay Packers as a free agent.

At UConn's pro day Adams seemed to do what he needed to remain on the radar of NFL teams and considering the amount of tape that NFL teams must have watched on Jones a season ago, you would have to think Adams might have caught the eye of the film watchers.

I would not be surprised if Adams continues the trend of UConn players being drafted.

The player out of UConn seemingly creating the most pre-draft buzz is fellow safety Junior Lee who absolutely put on a show at UConn's pro day. I've also seen reports that he was impressive at the New York Giants local pro day. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle and National Football Post tweeted about a week and a half ago that Lee has worked out privately for the Giants, Jets and Colts.

One issue with Lee is that he was not a starter but consider that Jones was a first-round pick, Adams could very well get drafted and I would expect Obi Melifonwu and Jhavon Williams to be very much on the radar of NFL scouts next year with Jamar Summers most definitely being a draftable prospect in the next class so it is not like Lee was playing behind mediocre talents.

A lack of experience is not an issue for defensive lineman Julian Campenni or linebackers Marquise Vann or Graham Stewart. It will be interesting to see what happens with the trio but certainly would not be surprised to see them land in a training camp.

I received this question and answer blog with Campenni emailed to me. I think the key for Campenni could be how NFL teams view the Missouri tape since Campenni was normally lining up across from Evan Boehm, who is rated as the fourth best center in the draft according to cbssports.com. Other than getting invited to the major all-star games, which was an opportunity not afforded any of the UConn players, the best way to catch the eyes of scouts is to have strong tape in head to head matchups with fellow NFL prospects.

Stewart saw his work at UConn's pro day ended prematurely due to a hamstring issue but he had healed up well enough to take part in the Yale pro day held earlier this month. I was covering the women's Final Four at the time but talked to one person who was at the event and was told that Stewart did a nice job there. He is also the only other UConn player listed on the CBS Sports database. Stewart also started his collegiate career at Florida. The Gators have nine players listed in ESPN's draft database and 12 listed by CBS Sports so perhaps NFL scouts' familiarity with Florida players could aid Stewart in his quest to continue his collegiate career.

I haven't been hearing too much about Vann but he's played a ton of football for the Huskies and took part in the Tropic Bowl along with defensive end Kenton Adeyemi and guard Tyler Samra.

I really thought that Adeyemi's stock could take a similar jump to what happened a year ago with B.J. McBryde. While he did not have the eye-popping numbers at UConn's pro day that McBryde did, the 300 pounder showed more than enough to make me think that he could land in a camp.

Running back Max DeLorenzo is a player that David Schuman from NUC Sports believes NFL teams should be looking at.

Normally my late April/early May schedule includes watching the NFL draft waiting for UConn players to be drafted. However, my nephew is graduating from the University of Michigan this weekend so I will be out of the loop and my colleagues at the Register will be called upon to provide NFL draft coverage. Staying on that subject, I am not a pro scout but from what I am hearing the top prospects with Connecticut ties are former high school rivals Tyler Matakevich, a Stratford native who played at St. Joseph High in Trumbull, Milford Academy and Temple, and fellow linebacker Don Cherry, a former Trumbull High star who starred at Villanova. It will also be interesting to see if Yale quarterback Morgan Roberts, Branford's Kyle Nolan out of Georgetown and former Notre Dame of West Haven and University of New Hampshire star Sean Goldrich get signed by NFL teams.

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