Branch Leads UConn's NFL Draft Hopes

The UConn football team may have been under the radar for most of last season, but the NFL Draft scouts surely didn't miss the Huskies. The Huskies certainly will have two players and possibly three drafted in the seven round draft that starts Saturday

One of the hot risers in the draft is Huskies cornerback Tyvon Branch, who lit up the NFL Combine with a 4.31 40-yard dash.

Branch has a good combination of size at 5-foot-11 205 pounds and blazing speed. He also can be used on special teams as a kick returner (two touchdowns last season for the Huskies) and also as a gunner on kick coverage.

"I have size and speed and I have a lot of potential to get better," Branch said. "Special team is real important. It separates me from a lot of other guys. I am real competitive and can play on specials teams."

Branch isn't the only Huskies player making waves. Guard Donald Thomas is likely to be a middle round selection fulfilling and incredible story of going from walk-on who never played high school football to NFL player.

Linebacker Danny Lansanah has also worked with into draft contention and could be a seventh round selection or a priority free agent.

Fullback, Deon Anderson was a sixth round pick of the Cowboys last season. In 2005, linebacker Alfred Fincher was taken by the Saints in the third round and quarterback Dan Orlovsky by the Lions in the fifth round.

Here is a breakdown of the Huskies prospects:

Tyvon Branch
Position: CB, S
Strengths: Branch is very fast running a 4.31 at the NFL Combine, the fastest time for a defensive back. Branch is versatile and depending on the scheme may play safety. Branch is a special teams star from the start and can return kicks as well as be an integral part of the kick coverage team. Very good at run support for a corner back.
Weaknesses: His balls skills produced only three interceptions in his career. For all his speed, he doesn't have the greatest lateral quickness and struggles to change direction. Could be a workout warrior and the speed may not translate.
Draft position: Late 2nd to mid 4th round.

Donald Thomas
Position: G
Strengths: Great combination of size at 6-4 3-5 pound and speed. Thomas is an athlete and is the prototypical pulling guard. Great footwork developed playing basketball. He is so new to football that his best days are ahead. He is raw and unfinished, he could be molded in several years into a starting caliber player.
Weaknesses: Thomas is raw. Thomas isn't going to step right in at the start of camp. He still is learning the position and doesn't have much experience. If teams need immediate help at guard they will probably go to a more seasoned player.
Draft position: 4th round to 6th round.

Danny Lansanah
Position: ILB Strengths: Lansanah has very good instincts, is a leader, and was very productive at middle linebacker with 129 tackles this past season. Lansanah is a smart player who makes up for his lack of blinding speed with instinct.
Weaknesses: Not as fast or as big as the prototypical middle linebacker. Lansanah doesn't really stick out at anything, though if he gets a chance could be a productive special team's player. Productive, but not spectacular.
Draft position: 7th round – undrafted free agent.

Dan Davis
Position: Defensive line, LB
Strengths: Davis is big and can be explosive and is currently at 275 pounds. He is versatile and can play end or tackle. Some teams have looked at him as a 4-3 linebacker, though he would have to shed weight.
Weaknesses: Doesn't have a position. Not big enough for tackle, not explosive enough for an end, and not fast enough for linebacker.
Draft position: Undrafted free agent. Someone will take a shot in mini-camp because of his character level. Longshot to make it to summer camp.

Larry Taylor
Position: kick returner.
Strengths: A seasoned kick returner who can be a difference maker on special teams. Can be a very dangerous returner.
Weaknesses: No real position outside of special teams. Small at 5-foot-6 and doesn't really fit into the NFL game.
Draft position: Likely headed for a career in Canada.

Read John Silver's blog at Silver's Daily Dish

UCONN Playbook Top Stories