Butch Davis never got a chance to coach Jonnu Smith. But the new FIU coach has been impressed with the former Panthers tight end, who has been busy preparing for the NFL Draft.
Davis said he got good feedback on Smith from many of the 24 NFL representatives who showed up for FIU’s Pro Day last month.
Smith, a 6-3, 250-pounder, has good speed for his position (4.62) and excellent leaping ability (38-inch vertical).
“There was a lot of buzz from scouts — they were very impressed with Jonnu,” Davis said. “He may be one of those guys who is [moving] up the draft board.
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“He was kind of underutilized and maybe undervalued a little bit during the course of his career. He did well in the all-star game, and he went to the Combine and lit it up.
“Then he came out here and put on a show, catching the ball. He ran every route really well. I will be very surprised if he’s still on the board when the third round ends.”
NFL.com projects Smith as a fourth-rounder. Fox Sports projects Smith going to the Dolphins in the fifth round.
The knocks on Smith are that he lacks the bulk to be a big-time blocker, and he also lets too many passes get to his body, dropping 10 throws during the past two seasons.
FIU might have a second drafted player in left tackle Dieugot Joseph, a 6-6, 295-pounder who has intrigued some scouts due to his long arms and athleticism.
Besides Smith and Joseph, here’s a look at some other players from non-Power Five schools around the state who are draft prospects:
▪ Running back Marlon Mack (USF): Of the top 10 rushers in the NFL last year, only one — Ezekiel Elliott of the Cowboys — was a first-round pick. Mack, who is projected to be selected in the third round, could be another one of those hidden gems at the position.
Mack is not a power runner at 5-11 and 210 pounds, and he isn’t blazing fast with a 4.5 timing in the 40, but he has enough strength and speed and is skilled in the passing game with good hands and route-running ability.
He also has outstanding balance, vision and body control, showing patience waiting for the hole to open and then accelerating.
▪ Cornerback Shaquill Griffin (UCF): At 6-0 and 195 pounds with 4.38 speed, Griffin has the measurables for his position. He also had a team-high four interceptions last season and is projected to be selected in the third round.
Griffin is aggressive, a sure tackler and an exceptional leaper (38.5 inches), which allows him to win battles against taller receivers. He needs to improve his anticipation as he is slow recognize combination routes.
▪ Defensive end/outside linebacker Trey Hendrickson (Florida Atlantic): At 6-4 and 265 pounds, Hendrickson was one of the most dominant players in Conference USA and is projected to get selected in the third or fourth round.
As a senior, he blocked two field goals, one punt and one extra point, and that could be where he first makes his mark in the NFL — on special teams.
Hendrickson has 4.65 speed, but he needs to get stronger and even quicker to win NFL battles.
▪ Wide receiver Rodney Adams (South Florida): The 6-1, 190-pounder is a fringe draft prospect who is projected to get selected between the fifth and seventh rounds. It’s also possible he doesn’t get drafted due to his small hands, skinny frame and ball-security issues.
He fumbled five times in just 90 touches last year, and that has been a consistent problem in his career. He’s also not strong enough to hold up in run-blocking.
Top players from state schools (Group of 5)