Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Recap: South Florida Prospects Drafted to the NFL

May 4, 2011

The 2011 NFL Draft came with plenty of anxiety and excitement, not only for the draft prospects but for the teams that knew this particular draft held more weight than usual. With the NFL lockout still looming as the owners and players clash in court, there still isn't any free agency or player trading in place. Hence, the importance of drafting players that will impact your team in the short-term as well as the long-term.

With that said, let's set aside the frustration of this lockout and take a moment to appreciate the South Florida prospects that made it to the NFL this year. We begin by looking at the University of Miami's nine draftees, marking the third most players drafted from a university.

Next Generation of Canes in the Pros

The first Miami Hurricane picked in the draft was offensive lineman Orlando Franklin, selected by the Denver Broncos in the 2nd round (46th overall pick). Franklin was touted as a top 10 offensive linemen in the draft by many analysts. His 6'6, 316-pound stature makes him a human wall and in the trenches. Whether it's Kyle Orton or Tim Tebow calling the shots as the Broncos' QB, I'm sure they'll feel a bit safer with Franklin in front of them. And so will Denver's running backs.

Brandon Harris was next to come off the board as the Houston Texans snatched him up late in the second round (60th overall). The cornerback was expected to go higher in the draft and can be technically labeled a steal for the Texans. Harris is a high energy athlete with great instincts. What he lacks in size he makes up for in speed and ability to close in on receivers. For a team that was hurting in the secondary, the Texans should get a boost from this draft pick.

Next up was Leonard Hankerson, who was The U's number one receiver last season and improved each year as a Cane. As a third round pick (79th overall) by the Washington Redskins, this is perhaps the biggest steal out of Miami's draft class. Many thought Hankerson would get picked in the late-first or early-second round. While that guess was wrong, the Redskins still got their value's worth with this 6'2 receiver that recorded over 1,100 yards and 13 TDs in 2010. He reminds me of a smaller Andre Johnson. He will now line up alongside former Cane Santana Moss, creating a dual deep threat in the nation's capital.

The fourth Cane to go was defensive back DeMarcus Van Dyke. This guy has blazing speed and he proved it at the NFL Combine by posting the fastest 40-yard dash time among all prospects (2.28 seconds). In typical Oakland Raiders fashion, they used their third round pick (81st overall) to add more speed to their roster. He lacks in physicality and isn't a ball hawk, but he can help brake up deep passes and contribute as a role player.

Allen Bailey became the fifth UM player to make it pro after the Kansas City Chiefs took him in the third round (86th overall pick). Bailey is a defensive lineman that can play the DE and DT spots, making him a dynamic option for the Chiefs. Bailey tallied 14 sacks in his last two seasons at UM and recorded 78 total tackles. He's a decent D-lineman that should be able to contribute immediately, particularly on run defense.

As for the last three Canes to get selected in the draft, here they are:
  • Colin McCarthy (LB) - 4th round, 109th overall pick (Tennessee Titans)
  • Richard Gordon (TE) - 6th round, 181st overall pick (Oakland Raiders)
  • Matt Bosher (K) - 6th round, 192nd overall pick (Atlanta Falcons)
FIU Prospect Gets Drafted

Florida International University had one of their own taken in the draft. Conerback Anthony Gaitor was drafted in the seventh round (222nd overall pick) by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Gaitor was FIU's standout player on defense, averaging 49 tackles per season and raking in a combined 11 interceptions  throughout his four-year stint with the Golden Panthers. He was expected to go much higher than the seventh round, but now he's a pro football player nonetheless. Gaitor becomes the third FIU football player to make it to the NFL. 

Representing the Hialeah High Thoroughbreds!

Shout out to a former classmate of mine who made it big after being drafted 22nd overall by the San Diego Chargers - Corey Liuget. He attended Hialeah Senior High, as did I, and definitely showed his great potential back then.

Now, I didn't know Corey personally but I'm still proud to have graduated in the same class as him. He's representing my alma mater at the highest level now. Go T-Breds!

Check out a nice article written about him in The Miami Herald.

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