Potential Day 1 Prospects
Nick Starkel, QB, So.
I’m admittedly getting way ahead of myself as Starkel could be as many as 3 years away from the draft and he needs to worry about holding off Kellen Mond and James Foster for the starting job in the immediate future. However, Starkel has the height, build, and arm talent of a future 1st round pick and he’s technically eligible for the 2019 draft. He was impressive as a redshirt freshman last season and capped it by throwing for almost 500 yards in the bowl game. Nobody is talking about him in draft circles right now, but that will change in a big way if he continues where he left off.
Potential Day 2 Prospects
Trayveon Williams, RB, Jr.
Williams s a well-built change-of-pace back at the next level. He averaged nearly 7 YPC on his way to 1,057 rushing yards as a true freshman, but fell back to Earth a tad last year with only 798 yards at 4.6 YPC. The obvious question will center around whether or not he will be closer to his freshman or sophomore production in 2018. If he is closer to last year, then he will slip to the 3rd day of the draft. If he manages to approach 7 yards per tote again, then he could enter into the 2nd round discussion.
Jace Sternberger, TE, Jr.
Sternberger hasn’t done anything in an actual game yet, but he was the MVP of spring practices and looks to be in for a big role with so many vacated targets from last season. Sternberger’s ceiling is probably the late 2nd round. The floor is that his success in practice doesn’t translate to gameday and he doesn’t get drafted.
Landis Durham, Edge, Sr.
Durham is a decent bet to be a Day 2 choice in April. He is primed for another big year after piling up 10.5 sacks in 2017. I think he’s tall enough to play defensive end in a 4-3, but we’ll get official word during March’s scouting combine.
Kingsley Keke, DL, Sr.
Keke is going to interest 3-4 teams in need of a 5-technique. Keke is probably more of a 4th-5th round type, but I don’t want to take him out of 3rd round consideration before I see what he does this season.
Potential Day 3 Prospects
Erik McCoy, C-OG, Jr.
McCoy is probably the best offensive lineman currently in the program. He has a shot to get drafted late because he can play both center and guard.
Keaton Sutherland, OG, Sr.
I think Sutherland will find his way into an NFL camp as a reserve guard who can also play right tackle next summer. He has a chance to be drafted on Day 3.
Braden Mann, P, Jr.
Mann was the team’s kickoff specialist and now he takes over as the full-time punter. Expectations are high so we’ll see if he can get himself into an NFL camp in a couple years (probably wouldn’t declare in 2019).
Otaro Alaka, LB, Sr.
I’m betting Olaka is going to be one of those prospects that makes scouts take a closer look at him after his pro day. He’s athletic and has the prototypical build for an off-the-ball linebacker so he may have a chance to get drafted late. More likely, he will be a priority free agent.
Daniel LaCamera, K, Sr.
LaCamera has the leg to hit 50-yarders and has been fairly consistent on field goals while being automatic on extra points. He might get a shot in a camp as a free agent, but probably not because he isn’t great on kickoffs.
Jhamon Ausbon, WR, So.
Ausbon is going to put up some tremendous numbers in 2018 now that Kirk and Ratley have moved on to the NFL. He finished his freshman season by piling up 12-112-1 against Wake Forest in the Belk Bowl. Ausbon is a big target who is on my radar as a potential future 1st round draft choice in 2020 or 2021.