The Miami Hurricanes aren’t new to the NFL Draft and as Thursday quickly approaches, the Canes are ready to see whose names are called out in Cleveland.
Since 1967, Miami has had 62 first-round picks only behind Ohio State (71) and Southern California (71) and since 2000 the Canes have had at least three players drafted in the first round on five separate occasions.
Miami had six players display their skills in front of NFL scouts on Pro Day and two of these players, defensive ends Gregory Rousseau and Jaelan Phillips, are projected first-round picks, with Rousseau confirmed to be attending the draft on-site.
Rousseau opted out of the 2020 season and is ranked the seventh best defensive end according to ESPN. Mock drafts have him going to the Indianapolis Colts and the Buffalo Bills.
The defensive lineman missed all but two games during his 2018 freshman season due to an ankle injury, but his high production during his 2019 campaign has pushed his name up the draft board. In 2019, he led the ACC in sacks and tackles for loss.
Rousseau played 14 games for the Canes and recorded 59 tackles, 15.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss. If selected in the first round, he would be the fifth Miami defensive lineman to hear their name called in the first round since 2000, joining Vince Wilfork, Jerome McDougle, William Joseph and Damione Lewis.
Jaelan Phillips joins him as another Miami edge rusher expected to be selected on the first night. Phillips currently has plans to participate in draft activities virtually, but his stock is still high; he’s ranked the second best defensive end by ESPN.
Phillips’ journey to the draft was not an easy one. He transferred to Miami from UCLA after a multitude of injuries including concussions, wrist and ankle injuries. After sitting out for the 2019 season due to transfer rules, Phillips took advantage of the hole left by Rousseau’s decision to opt out. He played 20 games for the Canes, recording 86 tackles, 12.5 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss.
While his injuries might be a concern to teams looking for consistency, his ability to get after both the run and the pass overshadow any doubts. Mock drafts have him being selected by the Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns.
If Rousseau and Phillips both get taken off the board in the first round, they would become the 18th and the 19th Canes defenders to get selected in the first round since 2000. This would be the second-most of any school during that same time span only behind Ohio State (24).
Quincy Roche is also hoping to hear his name called on draft day after an impressive college career. Roche transferred to Miami from Temple and in the 2020 season recorded 45 tackles, 4.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. The edge rusher is ranked the No. 16 best available defensive end and Canes fans can expect to hear his name called on the second day.
Tight end Brevin Jordan will also be attending the draft virtually. Jordan spent three years as a Cane, starting as a true freshman and recording 13 touchdowns over his career.
In an offense-heavy draft the likelihood that a tight end not named Kyle Pitts will be taken off the board in the first-round is unlikely. However, Jordan has been praised for his athleticism, route-running and speed. He’s currently the fifth best tight end available according to ESPN and mock drafts have him being selected by the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks.
After transferring to Miami, kicker Jose Borregales is arguably one of the best kickers in college football, drawing comparisons to Nebraska’s Alex Henery. Borregales won the Lou Groza Award for the nation’s best kicker after a 2020 season where he was 20 for 22 field goals, with a long of 57 yards and perfect on all 37 extra point attempts. He is currently ranked the number one kicker in the draft according to ESPN.
Round one of the 86th Annual NFL Draft will start Thursday at 8 pm, followed by rounds two through three on Friday at 7 p.m. and finally rounds four through seven on Saturday.