The final 40-yard dash has been run, vertical leap measured and probing personal question asked.
It’s time for the NFL draft to disperse the college talent pool, with the first of seven rounds coming to you live from Las Vegas on Thursday.
Five former University of Washington football players await their professional fates, with cornerbacks Trent McDuffie and Kyler Gordon and tight end Cade Otton practically guaranteed draft selections over the next three days while nickelback Bookie Radley-Hiles and center Luke Wattenberg are hoping some team takes a flyer on them.
The higher, the better, to keep the UW rolling as a pro football training ground under the direction of new coach Kalen DeBoer.
“As a whole, this program is known for putting out guys over and over in each and every year — it’s a huge deal,” DeBoer said. “When we’re recruiting, players want to know and see what the process has been like, what the production has been, in going to the NFL. They all have that dream.”
A tremendous amount of draft website forecasting, speculation and outright guesswork has taken place over the past few months regarding the 262 players who will be fortunate to be picked and where, with no one reaching a general consensus.
After digesting all of their expertise and looking for any obvious clues, here’s yet another stab at where these five Huskies might be headed to make their fortunes:
This elite Husky defensive back more often than not turns up as a middle first-round choice, hovering around 16 or 17, as the third corner coming off the board. Still, the NFL seems to put a high value on this position, more than most. By all accounts, McDuffie has impressed everyone with his film, his smarts and his comfort zone in being put out there to see if he can avoid being exploited. We think he’ll be part of the first dozen picks, going No.12 to the Minnesota Vikings.
While the optimists list Gordon as a late first-rounder, from 30 to 32, we think the UW’s second-best corner will slide to the 35th selection and to the New York Jets, who have two early second-round picks to utilize. His overly athletic skill set will be a big hit in the Big Apple and surrounding area that stretches to East Rutherford, New Jersey.
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Otton got hurt last season and required ankle surgery, which left NFL talent scouts poring over his video highlights and not able to see him at his best in person. He could do light things, but not fully test. He is a full-service tight end, able to catch and block better than most. The smart team will take him within the top 96 picks. We think he’s a third-rounder, only higher, going to the Denver Broncos at pick No.75 because the franchise gave up the talented Noah Fant in the Russell Wilson trade to the Seattle Seahawks.
This undersized 5-foot-9, 180-pound defensive back probably doesn’t want to hear this, but he probably should have come back for yet another college season. While he’s aggressive and wily enough to go to the NFL right now, Radley-Hiles came to the UW to improve his draft stock but the move backfired as the Huskies imploded to 4-8 and didn’t showcase his talents. We’re going to drop him down to No. 229 in the seventh round, going to the Seahawks, who are in need of tough, coverage backs.
Wattenberg seems like he’s 100 years old, which means he comes to the NFL experienced on the college level but carrying some wear and tear. We have him going to the Kansas City Chiefs with the 259th pick, a compensatory selection, just barely getting his name called before everything wrapped. The Chiefs let backup center Austin Blythe go and need another warm body over the football.
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