Looking Ahead to the 2008 NFL Draft

Five Hurricanes were drafted in this past weekend's NFL Draft, including three in the first round. Will the first round streak continue? Who are the top NFL prospects on this year's Miami team? Lets take a look.

As it looks today, the Hurricanes will have 15 draft-eligible players heading into the 2008 NFL Draft. Here's a closer look at how I see them and how they project.

Andrew Bain -- A huge and talented offensive guard prospect, Bain became a full-time starter in the 2006 season. He has struggled somewhat with his weight over the last couple years but now says he's in the best shape of his career. He's talented and smart enough to play at the next level but will need a banner senior season to become a legitimate NFL prospect.

Glenn Cook -- A former high school teammate of Jon Beason, who became a first round draft on Saturday, Cook is perhaps the smartest of all the linebackers on the current team. He's had starting experience at both the sam and mike positions. He's played in 30 career games and had 23 solo tackles as a junior last season. A problem he's had so far in his career has been the inability to put on the necessary weight to stay completely healthy. Any coach will love his smarts and love for the game but he'll need a very strong season to become worthy of a draft pick.

Willie Cooper -- A very good special teams player for the Hurricanes, Cooper doesn't have any starting experience and has never found a position home on this defense. He's played in 33 games and has a total of 16 tackles. He'll need a huge year on special teams to catch the NFL's attention but he's capable of it because of his versatility.

Romeo Davis -- A player who came to UM without a lot of recruiting hype, Davis has started nearly 20 games for the Hurricanes. Most of his experience is in the middle. He's never been a major difference maker and his senior season will be huge as far as determining whether or not he'll get a chance to play on Sundays. His first major task will be trying to win the starting job back from talented youngster Darryl Sharpton, who played well at the end of the 2006 season. Davis has played in 30 games and has 17 solo tackles.

Vegas Franklin -- A career backup, Franklin has the ability to play end or tackle. He's a little undersized to play in the middle. He's played in 29 games and has nine career tackles. It would take a huge senior season for Franklin to become a legitimate NFL prospect.

Tavares Gooden -- With over a year's worth of starting experience, Gooden has 132 career tackles. He's clearly the most physically gifted player of the senior group of linebackers. If he stays healthy and even has a decent season, he'll likely get a combine invite based on his speed and athletic ability alone. After having played mostly defensive end in high school, Gooden has never fully developed as a linebacker. He'll have that opportunity this season. If he wins a starting job and has a strong season, he'll most likely get drafted. How high will depend on how strong a season he has. If he's unable to win the job and has an OK season, the NFL will likely pass on him.

Darnell Jenkins -- After playing in just three games last season and missing most of spring football, there are a lot of question marks on how big an impact Jenkins will be able to have on this year's team. He's played in 35 games and has 62 catches and four touchdowns. While he'll catch balls over the middle and block, there will be concerns over his yards per catch (only 10.9). He's not as talented as Ryan Moore, who went undrafted this past weekend. Jenkins will need a banner senior season and will need to show the ability to make big things happen in order to become a legitimate NFL prospect this season.

Charlie Jones -- After taking over for Tyrone Moss at the end of the 2005 season, Jones lost most of his playing time to Javarres James in 2006. If Jones wants a chance to play on Sundays, he'll need to win the job back and show people that he has NFL skills. It won't be easy -- especially with the addition of freshman sensation Graig Cooper.

Lance Leggett -- A long-striding, big-play threat outside, Leggett has nearly two full years worth of starting experience now. He's played in 36 games and has 70 receptions. He's averaged over 16 yards per catch in his career and has 10 touchdowns. He's every bit of 6-foot-3, was a high jumper in high school, and is one of the fastest Hurricanes. While he's never been able to put together a great season at Miami, he has shown flashes of NFL talent. This season will be a huge opportunity for Leggett. Calvin Johnson became the No. 1 receiver picked after a strong year in Patrick Nix's offense. Leggett will have that opportunity. He still needs work as a blocker, catching balls in traffic, beating jams off the line of scrimmage, and things like that but Leggett has a lot of NFL tools and will be watched closely this season. If he can stay healthy and put together an excellent season, like he's capable of, he will likely be a first day pick. If he continues to struggle with consistency and injuries then he'll become a fringe prospect who may end up on the outside looking in.

Teraz McCray -- A steady, non-flashy tackle prospect, McCray came to UM without a lot of recruiting hype. His work ethic and big motor helped him land a lot of playing time early in his career. He's played in 30 games with 20 total tackles and three sacks so far. He'll be in the spotlight this year. He's playing a very important position on an NFL-friendly defense and it's showtime for McCray. He's a little short but with a huge season, he could become a late-round prospect.

Derrick Morse -- A very experienced offensive lineman, Morse has played in 33 games at Miami and has started 18 of them. Already graduated, Morse played a lot of tackle in high school. He's played guard during his UM career and projects as the team's starting center in 2007. His biggest strength is the way he gets after people. While he's not the most athletic guy around, he's very physical at the point of attack and loves to finish. He has weight issues earlier in his career but is now ready for a banner senior season. With a strong year, he'll likely catch the attention of the NFL people.

John Rochford -- A talented long-snapper, Rochford has played a few different positions at Miami. He wasn't heavily recruited by other programs and came to UM to do exactly what he's done -- in 32 games. He'll be a key piece to UM's success in 2007.

Glenn Sharpe -- After missing nearly two full seasons in a row because of a knee injury, Sharpe returned to his old form in 2006. He played in every game, registering 30 tackles and two picks. Experience is not an issue with him. He played a lot as a freshman all the way back in 2002. In fact, it was Sharpe covering Ohio State's Chris Gamble on the play that left Canes fans upset at the 2003 Fiesta Bowl. He's big enough and fast enough to play at the next level but he'll need to really step up his play since some teams will be going in concerned about his knee. With a strong senior season, showing no signs of an old injury, he could very well get drafted.

Cyrim Wimbs -- A massive offensive lineman, Wimbs was a high school teammate of Andrew Bain. He's played 26 games as a reserve and looks to be in the same position heading into the 2007 season.

Kyle Wright -- The biggest question mark on the entire team for a topic like this, Wright's had an up and down career up to this point. Physically, he's capable of competing at the next level. Perhaps being on his fourth offensive coordinator since he's been here has played a part but Wright hasn't lived up to his recruiting hype just yet. He is completing 60-percent of his passes and his TD/INT ratio is 26/17. His record, however, is just 13-7 as a starter against Division 1A opponents. If he's able to win the job away from junior Kirby Freeman this summer, Wright will have the NFL microscope on him. If he has a big season in Nix's new offense, he'll shoot up the draft charts. If he's average again, he'll be fighting for late-round status. It's a huge year and huge opportunity for the talented signal-caller.

While a handful of the seniors will likely get drafted next April, you must keep an eye on the junior class as well. No program in college football loses more juniors to the pros than the Hurricanes and next year may be no different. Calais Campbell and Kenny Phillips already project as high picks.

Campbell, a legit 6-foot-7 defensive end, has played in 24 games at Miami and he already has 79 tackles and 14 sacks. His long arms and rare athletic ability make him a big time prospect. He has the type of year in 07 that he did in 06, Campbell will project as a high first rounder.

Phillips, a former five-star recruit, made an impact right away at Miami. A two-year starter, he's played in 22 games and already has 121 stops and five picks. Ed Reed and Sean Taylor are two of the premier safeties in the NFL right now and Phillips can put himself into that status as a prospect with a strong junior season.

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