Barry Jackson

What’s the word on UM’s draft-eligible players? NFL evaluators weigh in.

Miami Hurricanes wide receiver Braxton Berrios (8) is among several UM players hoping to be drafted next spring.
Miami Hurricanes wide receiver Braxton Berrios (8) is among several UM players hoping to be drafted next spring.

A bunch of players from this UM team are going to be drafted, and here’s how an NFL executive and a draft analyst assess Miami’s draft-eligible talent:

• Junior defensive tackles Kendrick Norton and Richard McIntosh Jr: Roomates and close friends, the two juniors have asked the NFL draft advisory board for input and will soon decide whether to turn pro. It’s considered 50/50.

NFL draft analyst Tony Pauline said “Norton is a guy who can control the line of scrimmage. Defensive tackles are taken much earlier than people expect. He has played well. It is a good d-tackle draft. If he enters and the workouts go well, he is potentially a second-day kid [meaning second or third round]. McIntosh is a step below him.”

The AFC executive said he hasn’t been especially impressed by Norton and would take McIntosh higher, “in the third or fourth round. McIntosh is more athletic, can move. Norton doesn’t have great range.”

• Senior receiver Braxton Berrios: Pauline: “Potentially a pro prospect. Came into the year as a low level free agent. Not really big. Really needs to run well in workouts to show he can play in the slot. He has quickness the first 10 yards and catches the ball well. If he runs well [in workouts], he will get consideration as a late round pick.”

The AFC executive said Berrios is a “late-round pick. Good hands. Underrated speed. Can return punts. I see similarities to Danny Amendola.”

• Senior defensive end Chad Thomas: Pauline: “I like him but he’s very streaky. Makes a lot of plays and then disappears for a while. Hasn’t wowed me at any point. Came into the season with a fourth-round grade, maybe late third. I think that’s where he is. Has incredible size speed numbers. Has a lot of upside.”

The executive calls him a third- or fourth-round pick. “Strong, physical guy” and improved against the run.

• Senior tight end Chris Herndon: Pauline: “Had a sixth round grade coming into the season.” He believes he could have gone a bit higher than that before last month’s MCL injury. But that injury is damaging.

AFC scout: “I thought he would be my sleeper. But with the ACL, he is not going to be ready [for an offseason program]. Sixth, seventh round pick. Would have said fifth or higher before the injury. A better athlete than he gets credit for.”

• On senior offensive linemen Kc McDermott and Trevor Darling: Pauline: “McDermott wasn’t even graded by scouts coming into the year. I had him as a sixth round selection and he played relatively well. Decent size at 6-4, 295. I could see him sneaking into the late rounds. Darling is a marginal free agent.”

The executive said he rates both as undrafted free agents.

• Cornerback Dee Delaney: Pauline sees him as a potentially mid-to-late round pick who can play in nickel or dime packages. The executive said he has been unimpressed by Delaney and wouldn’t draft him.

• Senior defensive end Trent Harris, who has eight sacks:

Pauline: “He came into this season graded as a priority free agent. You can’t dismiss the production, but was it him or everyone else [playing well that helped him] be able to exploit [teams]? He’s 6-1. He is going to have to play standing up” if he makes the NFL instead of playing defensive end.

The executive: “I like him. I would take him in the late rounds. He’s a surprise to me. Can rush the quarterback.”

• Pauline said of running back Mark Walton, who’s turning pro after his October season-ending ankle injury: “A lot is dictated on the Combine medicals. It would be a reach for him to get into third round.”

The AFC executive deems Walton a fourth-round pick. “He would be higher if he hadn’t had the injury. I like that he can return kicks.”

• The AFC executive said neither Jaquan Johnson nor cornerback Michael Jackson should turn pro and that he’s not sure either is an NFL player: “Johnson makes plays but he’s small. Jackson wouldn’t be drafted.”

UM people aren’t expecting Johnson to turn pro. Caneinsight’s Peter Ariz reported Jackson is leaning toward turning pro.

• That AFC executive said the two areas where UM particularly needs to improve to be on Clemson’s level are quarterback and offensive line.

He said the line simply isn’t physically talented enough and UM must hope either Malik Rosier improves substantially or N’Kosi Perry wins the job next spring. “Rosier is just a guy; he needs to work on a lot of things,” the executive said.

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