University of Miami

Where ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. projects Miami’s early entrants will land in NFL Draft

The final day of the 2020 NFL Draft could be a busy one for the Miami Hurricanes — particularly those who opted to forego their final season of eligibility to enter the NFL Draft after their junior seasons.

Four Miami players opted to skip their senior years to enter the 2020 Draft, and Mel Kiper Jr. projects all four to be selected sometime on the third and final day of the Draft next month. Running back DeeJay Dallas, wide receiver Jeff Thomas, defensive lineman Jonathan Garvin and cornerback Trajan Bandy all project as third-day picks in the draft, likely to be selected between the fourth and seventh rounds in April.

“You’re going to see I think a host of Hurricanes go on Day 3,” the ESPN Draft guru said on a teleconference.

Dallas, Thomas, Garvin and Bandy were four of the eight Miami players to participate at the NFL Scouting Combine in late February and early March, and all four should at least be picked when the Draft is held. It is scheduled for next month in Las Vegas. From the group of underclassmen, Garvin has the best chance to push his way up into the third round and second day of the draft, Kiper said.

Garvin was once viewed as a potential first-round pick after finishing third in the Atlantic Coast Conference with 17 tackles for loss as a sophomore in 2018. The defensive end, however, recorded only nine tackles for loss as a junior as he became a greater focus for opposing offenses.

“To see anybody in the third round out of that group would be very debatable. I don’t see it right now,” Kiper Jr. said. “Maybe you see a pass rusher potentially like Garvin — maybe somebody reaches a bit there. I don’t think that’s going to happen, though.”

Dallas, Thomas and Bandy all solidly project as third-day picks with Bandy slotting in as an “early Day 3” pick, Kiper said.

Bandy was an All-ACC honorable mention in 2019 after earning third-team honors as a sophomore in 2018. Thomas, whom Kiper said projects as a fifth-round pick, finished his junior season with 379 receiving yards after racking up 563 as a sophomore. Dallas ran for a career high 693 yards as a junior in his first season as the Hurricanes’ lead tailback before an injury cut short his season after just 10 games.

Beyond Garvin, Thomas remains one of the most interesting Miami prospects in the Draft because of his massive upside. The receiver was a top-50 overall prospect in the 247Sports.com composite rankings coming out of high school and put together a promising freshman season before off-the-field troubles derailed his career. Thomas left the team before the end of his sophomore season, then was allowed to return last year when Manny Diaz took over as coach. The wideout still couldn’t stay out of trouble, though, and served a two-game suspension for a violation of team rules.

In his checkered career, Thomas caught 83 passes for 1,316 yards and eight touchdowns. As a freshman, Thomas averaged 22 yards per catch.

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“Jeff Thomas, to me, is going to make a team as a guy who can get it done as a wide receiving entity,” Kiper Jr. said. “I think he’s probably going to project right now as more of a fifth-rounder.”

Kiper also mentioned wide receiver K.J. Osborn and linebacker Shaquille Quarterman as Miami players he projects as third-day picks in the upcoming draft, with Quarterman potentially going as early as the fourth round. On a conference call last month, Kiper mentioned Trevon Hill as a candidate to be the first Hurricane selected, although he didn’t mention the defensive lineman Wednesday. He also didn’t mention linebacker Michael Pinckney, who has been pegged as a third-day pick by some prognosticators.

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