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Projecting where USF’s prospects will get drafted

This weekend's NFL draft could be the most bountiful in USF history
OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times 
USF cornerback Deatrick Nichols runs the 40-yard dash during Pro Day on campus in Tampa, Florida on Monday, March 26, 2018.
OCTAVIO JONES | Times USF cornerback Deatrick Nichols runs the 40-yard dash during Pro Day on campus in Tampa, Florida on Monday, March 26, 2018.
Published Apr. 23, 2018

For all the analyses and hypotheses, all the Mels and McShays, all the pro days and private workouts, the NFL draft remains a crap shoot at its core.

But just for kicks, we're rolling the dice anyway.

As a prelude to what could — could — be USF's most bountiful draft weekend ever, we're taking a stab at predicting which round each Bulls prospect will be selected. Take this with a grain of salt (unless we're on the money, then you can hail us for our astuteness).

DT Deadrin Senat
While the projections of where Senat gets drafted vary wildly, there's a consensus among the mock-ups that he'll be the first Bull taken. Senat was un-blockable down the stretch in 2017 (three sacks alone in the Birmingham Bowl), propelling him into the collective consciousness of scouts during the all-star and combine season, where his stock didn't appear to diminish. We're erring on the side of optimism and saying Senat will hear his name called shortly after noon Saturday.
Projected round: 4

WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling
We see Valdes-Scantling, who possesses the greatest physical upside of any Bulls prospect (6-foot-5, 208 pounds), to hear his name called on Day 3 of what should be another banner draft for Lakewood High. While knocked for his hands (or lack thereof) from time to time in college, Valdes-Scantling didn't have a drop at USF's pro day, and absolutely torched the 40 at the NFL combine (4.37 seconds). There's simply too much promise for Valdes-Scantling not to be drafted.
Projected round: 6

Related: Draft prospect Marquez Valdes-Scantling puts hands,  heart on display

DE Mike Love
Our draft-weekend surprise. When healthy at USF, Love was highly effective (5.5 sacks, 11 tackles for loss in 2017) and appeared to have a really impressive pro day on campus last month. One assessment we read hails him for his "excellent motor and above-average skill set as a pass rusher relative to his overall production." Our hunch is, some team takes a chance on him late Saturday.
Projected round: 7

DB Deatrick Nichols
General assessment is, Nichols projects as a slot corner instead of an elite one in the NFL, though his blistering 40 time at USF's pro day (unofficially clocked between 4.32 and 4.36 seconds) may have changed some minds. One assessment we saw indicated several of his 11 career interceptions were the result of deflected or poorly thrown balls, but we have higher regard for his anticipation and play-making.
Projected round: 7

Related: USF pro day: Deatrick Nichols makes fast work of 40

Free-agent signings
We expect these guys' phones to ring moments after the draft concludes
DT Bruce Hector: This Robinson High alumnus is simply too athletic not to get a shot at making a roster
RB D'Ernest Johnson: Might actually have a better chance of making an NFL roster than Nichols or Love, just based on his versatility and special-teams prowess.
QB Quinton Flowers: We see Flowers getting invited to a rookie mini-camp, and probably not as a QB
S Devin Abraham: His college production (nine INTs) and high football IQ (befitting the son of a former NFL corner) will earn him a hard look in an NFL camp