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.
Louisville has a stockpile of sophomore and junior talent on the roster right now, so while this crop of NFL prospects may look diminutive, it’s because it’s just a precursor of things to come. Coach Charlie Strong’s created an impressive pipeline and a roster that’s aiming to go undefeated this coming season, with or without the two departing seniors below.
Adrian Bushell, CB, Senior (Projected: Fifth Round)
Bushell’s had a long and winding road to get to this point, but in the limited time he’s been a starting collegiate corner (19 games), all he’s done is impress coaches and scouts alike. Despite a smaller frame of just 5’10″ and 186 pounds, he seemingly always manages to get a hand on the football and an arm on a ball-carrier. In 2012, he tallied 14 defended passes, one interception and 62 tackles. Overall, he’s great at keeping receives in front of him, and has become a real deterrent to passes on his side of the field. While he’ll certainly get drafted, his future employer will likely ask him to bulk up just slightly — enough so that he can take the physical punishment of the pro game, but not so much that it hampers his speed.
Mario Benavides, C, Senior (Projected: Seventh Round)
Benavides was widely viewed as a combine snub, something he’s likely used as a motivational chip during his workouts since. The senior has the size (6’3″ and 297 pounds) and speed (5.3 40-yard dash) to be a pro center, but it’s the brute strength piece of the equation that has some scouts unsure. Where he might lack a bit in that department, however, he excels in hand and feet speed — key to keeping the middle of the line clear. There’s talk he may end up positioning himself as a combo guard/center, which will likely increase his value to teams as they search for some offensive line depth late on day three of the draft. Either way, he could use a bit more upper-body strength, but that’s something he can work on once signed with a team as well.