Leading up to this month’s NFL Draft, we’ll be taking a look at each ACC‘s school’s prospects and where they’re slated to be chosen. While 50 ACC players were invited to the NFL Draft Combine, those not in attendance also have ample opportunity to hear their name called between April 25 through 27.
Following last year’s mass player exodus, Miami only loses a few seniors to this year’s draft. And the program that once produced multiple first-round picks each and every season now looks like a shadow of its former self. Of the three players we’ll profile here, just one has a sure-fire chance of being selected, and that’s still not even until the third day. These fortunes could all change course soon enough (plenty of pro talent on the current roster), but until then, it’ll at least look like rebuilding mode to the uninformed eye.
Brandon McGee, CB, Senior (Projected: Fifth Round)
McGee gets solid marks from scouts with an athletic build and some great speed (4.37 40-yard dash), but his size (5’11” and 193 pounds) could end up becoming an issue as the NFL transitions to larger targets in the passing game. During his career at Miami, he’s shown glimpses of being a great physical cover man, but sometimes that leads to far too much downfield contact and/or getting beat on shorter routes. Still, his ability to get a finger on the ball is noted and appreciated. While there’s certainly plenty to improve upon — anyone who watched Miami’s dreadful secondary last year will agree, I’m sure — he’s a strong prospect with enough upside to be worth a third-day selection.
Mike James, RB, Senior (Projected: Undrafted)
James never really got rolling as a feature back at Miami — the main reason he’ll go undrafted next week. But in the split time he spent on the field these last four years, he’s also shown glimpses of why he could end up a valuable third/fourth running back option and/or special-teamer. With a 4.5 40-yard dash time, he’s got nice speed and burst off the line, and last year in particular, he also improved his receiving skills out of the backfield, catching 30 passes for 344 yards and three scores. As a tireless worker and reasonably underused runner though, I could see the appeal of signing James as a free agent with a real shot to make a team for the fall.
Ray Ray Armstrong, SS, Senior (Projected: Undrafted)
Trouble with the NCAA is not all that uncommon anymore, so what will stand in Armstrong’s way is not the improper benefits issue that arose last summer, but the fact that he’s been away from the game for a full year. At Miami’s pro day, he only ran a 4.7-second 40-yard dash, but who truly knows how much rust he still needs to shake up from being inactive this past year? For a player who was once projected as a sure-fire first-round pick, it’s certainly disappointing to see him fall this far. There’s a shot he’s drafted based on the upside he once showed at Miami as an aggressive, lengthy defender who can cover the field quite well. But in all likelihood, Armstrong will be signing as a free agent following the draft.