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Cougar wide receiver Gabe Marks' NFL draft forecast varies widely

FORECASTERS CURRENTLY see record-breaking Washington State receiver Gabe Marks going anywhere between the third and seventh rounds of April’s NFL draft, but the two-time All-Pac-12 pick will have a prime-time opportunity to increase his stock later this month.

Marks will be one of five receivers for the West in the annual East-West Shrine Game, in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Jan. 21 — and current NFL assistants will be serving as coaches.

The all-stars will practice for a week before the game, giving the 6-0, 180-pounder from Venice, Calif., a big window to make hay in front of potential employers.

In addition, there's the possibility Marks will be invited to the Senior Bowl on Jan. 28. Rosters for that game will be announced on Jan. 18. The NFL Combine, the preeminent pre-draft showcase which features 300 top prospects, has yet to release its official invite list for the Feb. 28-Mar. 6 workout in Indianapolis.

Here’s a sampling of what draft pundits are currently saying about Marks …

DRAFTWIRE/USA TODAY (Trevor Sikkema):

Projected round: 4 to 7

Comment: “He’s a long-limbed pass-catcher with quickness who can beat defenders with smooth routes and solid technique. Even at just 6-0, 190 pounds, he’s got a solid catch radius, something that helped make him (Luke) Falk’s favorite target … He could end up being a solid value anywhere on Day 3.”

ESPN.COM:

Projected round: 5th (No. 19 receiver, No. 147 overall)

Comment: “Silky smooth route runner. Flexible lower body and fluid hips. Not as crisp as he is smooth. Has some choppiness getting in-and-out of hard-breaking routes. But he is savvy with his stems and does a good job setting up cornerbacks in man-to-man coverage. Lacks elite size and speed to naturally separate but he does a consistently good job of creating separation with routes and savvy.”

WALTERFOOTBALL.COM (Charlie Campell):

Projected round: 3 to 5

Comment: “Marks will have to prove that his production isn't just a result of his college offense and that he has the skills to compete in the NFL. “

CBSPSORTS.COM/NFLDRAFTSCOUT.COM:

Projected round: 4 to 7 (No. 35 receiver)

Comment: “Projecting nicely as a slot receiver, Marks has enough burst to challenge deep but throttles down quickly, recognizes where to settle against zone coverage and is a reliable hands catcher … could earn Day Three consideration.”

DRAFTSITE.COM:

Projected round: 7th — to Carolina (No. 28 receiver, No. 199 overall)

THE FINANCIAL DIFFERENCE FOR MARKS as a third-round pick vs. a seventh rounder would be considerable. For instance, if he was taken late in the third round he’d earn approximately $3.4 million over four years ($680,000 guaranteed) with a signing bonus of around $400,000. The seventh round would yield a four-year deal worth about $2.3 million (none guaranteed) with a signing bonus of around $50,000.

The sports agency Impact Sports Management recently tweeted that it has signed Marks.

NOTABLE: Two other receivers with local ties are projected by forecasters to go high in April's draft: UW's John Ross in the first round and EWU's Cooper Kupp in the second or third.

RELATED STORY: CF.C's 2016 WSU Sportsperson of the Year

Marks hauls in one of the 316 catches that make him the most prolific receiver in Pac-12 history:

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