For the first time since 2013, last weekend’s NFL Draft saw a former Colorado player selected, four of them in fact, all on the defensive side of the ball. While Chidobe Awuzie (Cowboys), Ahkello Witherspoon (49ers), Tedric Thompson (Seahawks), Jordan Carrell (Cowboys) and a number of other Buffs who signed as undrafted free agents are hoping to make a name for themselves in the NFL this fall, there are plenty of current Buffs hoping to hear their names called next April.
A lot can change between now and next spring, but here’s a list of current Buffs that could be part of the 2018 NFL Draft. I’ve grouped my projections into the following three categories: WILL HEAR THEIR NAMES CALLED, COULD THEY BE LEAVING EARLY?, and POTENTIAL LATE ROUND SELECTION OR UNDRAFTED FREE AGENT. (Players height, weight and stats were used from their current CUBuffs.com player profile) Enjoy!
WILL HEAR THEIR NAMES CALLED
Jeromy Irwin, OT (6’5, 295 LBS) – Offensive lineman are in high demand each year and Irwin is one of the best in the Pac-12. Starting 12 games at tackle, Irwin anchored an offensive line that helped the Buffs average 446.3 yards per game last season. He’ll need to pack on some pounds if he expects to play tackle in the NFL.
Shay Fields, WR (5’11, 180 LBS) – Flat out playmaker. “Big Play” Shay led the Buffs in receiving yards (845) last season and has nine career plays of 50 yards or longer. Could stand to put on a little weight, but the NFL team that drafts him next April is getting a true deep threat.
COULD THEY BE LEAVING EARLY?
Isaiah Oliver, DB (6’1, 190 LBS) – With Awuzie, Witherspoon and Thompson gone, Oliver becomes the Buffs lock down corner for 2017. A threat returning punts or shutting down opposing wide receivers, Oliver reminds me of former Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers, but perhaps more talented. Should he put together a strong season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the junior declare for the NFL Draft.
Juwann Winfree, WR (6’3, 205 LBS) – Winfree’s size alone makes him an interesting wide receiver prospect. The former Maryland Terrapin/Junior College star wowed folks in fall camp last year before tearing his ACL on August 18th causing him to miss the entire 2016 season. He’s back this year and according to head coach Mike MacIntyre “definitely” a full go. The Buffs are loaded at wide receiver this fall, but should the junior separate himself, he may test the NFL waters.
POTENTIAL LATE ROUND SELECTION OR UNDRAFTED FREE AGENT
Afolabi Laguda, DB (6’1, 205 LBS) – The only returning starter in the Buffs secondary, Laguda led all Buffs defensive backs with 80 tackles last season. If he can put together a solid 2017, he should be a day three selection next April.
Phillip Lindsay, RB (5’8, 190 LBS) – When ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. breaks down Lindsay’s tape, he’ll probably use two phrases, “high motor” and “heart.” Lindsay has both and despite his small stature he’d make an NFL team very happy.
Bryce Bobo, WR (6’2, 190 LBS) – See this one-handed catch vs Oregon and decide for yourself.
Kabion Ento, WR (6’3, 180 LBS) – Another one of the Buffs talented receivers, Ento had a huge spring season but may find playing time hard to come by this fall. Recently posted a 39.5 vertical jump and 10-8 broad jump during CU’s testing day, numbers on par with Awuzie who was selected in the second round by the Dallas Cowboys.
Devin Ross, WR (5’11, 180 LBS) – Despite leading the Buffs in receptions (66) last season, Ross, like Ento, will most likely be an undrafted free agent. I just don’t see more than two Buffs receivers getting drafted in 2017.
Derek McCartney, OLB/DT (6’3, 250 LBS) – One of six team captains for 2017, it’ll be interesting to see how McCartney rebounds from a knee injury suffered against Michigan last season. The grandson of legendary CU coach Bill McCartney, Derek has started 25 of the 27 games he’s played in and accrued nine and a half career sacks.
Ryan Moeller, DB/OLB (6’1, 215 LBS) – Versatile player who played a hybrid defensive back/outside linebacker roll last season. Saw 57 snaps in December’s Pac-12 Championship game vs Washington, registering eight tackles, including two for losses. Was first team all-Pac-12 as a special teams player who was not a kicker or return man, a likely role for him in the NFL.