Illini prep for NFL Combine

Three Illini will compete in the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine, also known as the 'Underwear Olympics,' over the next week. To prove themselves to NFL teams, the Illini will be poked and prodded and tested physically in on-field drills and mentally in off-field interviews with teams. Here's a quick look at their schedules and current rankings and projections.

Read Micheal Young's latest column, "Best Fits for Illini NFL Draft Prospects."

Josh Ferguson, RB

Wednesday: Media interviews

Measurements: 5-foot-9, 198 pounds, 30-inch arm length, 9-inch hands

Friday: On-field workouts

2015 stats: 708 rushing yards (5.5 ypc); 37 catches, 280 receiving yards in 9 games

Ranking:'s 132nd overall prospectNo. 9 running back

Illini Inquirer projection, by football analyst Micheal Young: Between rounds 5-7 to the New Orleans Saints

Geronimo Allison, WR

Thursday: Media interviews

Measurements: 6-foot-3, 196 pounds, 32.825-inch arm length, 9.5-inch hands

Saturday: On-field workouts

2015 stats: 65 catches, 882 yards, three touchdowns

Ranking:'s 279th overall prospectNo. 37 wide receiver

Illini Inquirer projection: Between rounds 4-7

Jihad Ward, DL

Friday: Media interviews

Measurements: 6-foot-5, 296 pounds, 33.625-inch arm length, 9.425-inch hands

Sunday: On-field workouts

2015 stats: 53 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, 1 FF, 1 FR

Ranking:'s 123rd overall prospectNo. 12 defensive tackle

Illini Inquirer projection: Between rounds 1 and 2 to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles will switch back to a One Gap 4-3 system and could use more DL depth. 

Other Illini draft prospects

- V'Angelo Bentley, CB: The nickelback/kick returner was not invited to the combine, but NFL scouts have watched him closely since fall training camp. ESPN Scouts Inc. ranks him 245th among draft prospects, which projects him as a seventh-round prospect/undrafted free agent. He can be an NFL returner. Can he be a team's No. 3 cornerback?

- Clayton Fejedelem, S: The hard-hitting former walk-on has developed into a draft prospect. His best role would be as a special teamer, but the Big Ten's leading tackler also is strong against the run. Fejedelem -- who ESPN Scouts Inc. ranks 246th among draft prospects -- will get invited to a camp, but he likely must prove himself against the pass to get drafted.

- Ted Karras, OL: Like most of his Illini teammates, Karras performed well at the East-West Shrine Game. But guard is not a priority position in the NFL Draft -- ESPN Scouts Inc. only ranks 13 guards in its top 300 prospects -- so Karras' best shot may be to earn an NFL spot in camp. The Illini four-year starter would do well by showing he can play center. With so few roster spots, NFL teams prioritize versatility.

2017 NFL prospects

- Wes Lunt, QB: Lunt has all the throwing tools NFL scouts want, and his accuracy was marred by more than 60 wide receiver drops last season. Now, he must hone his pocket presence because his lack of mobility is his biggest impediment. CBS Sports currently lists him as the No. 13 quarterback in the Class of 2017. WIth a good season, he could rise into the top-five.

Dawuane Smoot, edge rusher: CBS Sports currently ranks Smoot the No. 25 defensive end in the Class of 2017 but that seems a bit low and at the wrong position. Smoot -- one of the Big Ten's best pass rushers last season (15.0 TFLs, 8.0 sacks) -- projects as a 3-4 outside linebacker and has the combo of strength and speed (he was a sprinter in high school) to play the role well. Expect his stock to rise.

- Jarrod "Chunky" Clements, DT: The rising senior is disruptive from the three technique (11.5 TFLS, 0.5 sacks last season) and fits well in a one-gap, penetrating 4-3 scheme. CBS Sports' ranking of him as the 40th ranked defensive tackle seems a bit low, but Clements simply has to put a better season on tape.

Rob Bain, NT: The sturdy, freakishly strong Illini senior must find the right fit. He lacks the athleticism or speed to be anything but a nose tackle. But he's a pretty good college run stuffer. He has a lot of work to do to get drafted.

Austin Schmidt, OT: While junior teammate Christian DiLauro is the better pro prospect and a better run blocker, Schmidt's long arms and solid technique make him an intriguing fringe prospect for pass-heavy teams. He must get stronger, especially in his lower body.

2018 and beyond

Ke'Shawn Vaughn, RB: The rising sophomore had an impressive freshman season (723 rushing yards, 119 receiving yards) and has the versatility (running, receiving and blocking) to be a three-down back at the next level.

Mikey Dudek, WR: The Wes Welker and Julian Edelman comparisons are inevitable, but Dudek doesn't shy away from them. And he may be more athletic than either of those players. If that surgically repaired knee is healthy, Dudek could set receiving records at Illinois. 

Malik Turner, WR: One of the top overall athletes on the Illini roster, the rising junior flashed his No. 1 wideout potential at the end of last season (39 catches, 510 yards). Dudek will be more productive. But if Turner puts it all together, it's not ridiculous to think that he will be drafted higher due to his size (6-3, 205 pounds) and athleticism. But he has a lot of work to do to get there.

Christian DiLauro, OT: The former high school tight end has transitioned well to the offensive line. He's athletic and quick and has a nasty streak in the run game. He'll have two more years to continue his progression. If you put Schmidt's arm length on him, DiLauro would project as a high-round offensive tackle. For now, he may project better inside at the next level, but he's still a guy who projects to get drafted.

Gabe Megginson, OL: He hasn't yet played a game, but the 6-foot-5, 300-pound redshirt freshman has all the physical tools and the nastiness NFL teams want in an offensive lineman.

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