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UConn Football's NFL Draft Future is Bright

2016 didn't have a lot going on, but UConn Football should be making some noise in the NFL Draft in the next few years.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016 NFL Draft came and went without a single member of the UConn Huskies hearing his name called. Though this wasn't a huge surprise, there was a possibility that one or two may have been selected. Instead, the Husky class of 2016 hopefuls will be going into camps across the country as undrafted free agents.

Fear not, though, for each of the next two years should see multiple draft candidates, with some holding the potential to hear their names called on the first or second day.

Class of 2017

Andreas Knappe - OT

He's 6-foot-8, nimble as heck for his size, and after next year will have been a starter for most of three seasons. Though he has had some breakdowns in pass protection and still needs work on his technique, Knappe still has plenty to offer as a pro prospect and should catch the eye of an NFL team, especially since they're always looking for tackles.

Richard Levy - OG

Levy had been a starter at tackle for UConn but has now moved inside to guard, where head coach Bob Diaco has stated that he is "much more marketable." He has the size and strength to be a factor inside and if he can post a solid senior season there's no reason to believe he can't get on the radar of NFL scouts.

Jhavon Williams - DB

Williams has been a mainstay on the field after redshirting his first year in Storrs. By the time his college career is over he will have been a three-year starter at cornerback.

The 5-foot-10 corner has had seven pass break ups in each of the past two seasons, and last year added three interceptions and 55 tackles. If he can build on that production he could be a solid late-round selection in a league where you can never have too many defensive backs.

Obi Melifonwu - S

The big and strong Melifonwu has always been a supreme athletic talent, so his development as a player has been more focused on making the right plays on the field. He really seemed to put it together last season with regards to keeping the mistakes to a minimum and starting to make a difference in the passing game.

He is no slouch in the classroom either, having received multiple academic all-conference honors. Given his 6-foot-3 frame, elite athleticism, and progress he has made in his football IQ, there is no reason he won't be NFL-bound next year.

Bobby Puyol - K

After a tough 2014 season where he posted a 64.3 field goal percentage, Puyol stepped up in a big way as a junior. After hitting 16 of 18 field goal attempts, with a long of 52, the Florida native was one of 20 finalists for the Lou Groza Award given to college football's top kicker.

Puyol may get drafted, depending on how much he can build on that strong 2015 campaign, but even if not he'll definitely have his share of teams to pick from as an undrafted free agent.

Noel Thomas - WR

Noel Thomas is very good at football- better than his numbers would even indicate. On a run-first offense, Thomas hauled in 54 passes for 719 yards and three touchdowns. What makes it so clear that he's ready for the next level is his ability to get open and also to catch anything thrown his way. He doesn't have crazy size or speed, but he is big enough, fast enough, and smart enough to thrive at the next level. Thomas is the one most likely among this group to hear his name called in the first two days of next year's draft.

Class of 2018

Predicting draft outcomes one year from now is stretching it, so trying to go two years out is downright futile. That said, I count at least 13 guys who should have a solid shot come draft season 2018: Cole Ormsby, E.J. Levenberry, Junior Joseph, Cam Stapleton, Foley Fatukasi, Tre' Bell, Tommy Myers, Alec Bloom, Jamar Summers, Vontae Diggs, Ron Johnson, Arkeel Newsome, and Luke Carrezola.