UConn Football had one player picked in the 2017 NFL Draft, an improvement from 2016’s zero but short of the two Huskies picked in 2015 (Byron Jones, 1st round and Geremy Davis, 6th round) and 2014 (Shamar Stephen and Yawin Smallwood, both 7th round).
The 2013 draft was the high mark for the program, as five players heard their names called. 2009 had four but may have an edge in quality with a first round pick and three second-round selections.
There were a few players believed to have a shot in 2017, though only one ended up being picked. Still, Obi Melifonwu getting the call in the 2nd round adds to the resume of modest success for the program’s pro placement.
The class of 2018 could end up competing with the banner years of 2013, 2009, and another four-pick draw in 2011.
As our 2017 version of this article proved, it can be difficult to project NFL Draft status one year ahead. Though that list contained most of the Huskies who were considered in the pre-draft process, almost all of them experienced fluctuation in their stock.
Looking ahead at the Huskies’ rising seniors and their prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft, here are the guys most on the radar right now.
Tier 1: Should Be Picked
DT - Folorunso Fatukasi
Foley Fatukasi has been a grown-ass man on the UConn defense for the better part of three years going into his senior season.
A disruptive force on the interior line, the New York native has 123 tackles, 10 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss after two seasons as a starter. His redshirt junior season was less productive than the year before, but he’ll have an opportunity to put up good numbers as a senior in a more aggressive defense.
DB - Jamar Summers
Summers is another player who could not build on a productive sophomore campaign. After grabbing eight interceptions and earning high marks from advanced analysts in 2015, he only had two picks in 2016 and uncharacteristically gave up big days to opposing receivers across the season.
Still, Summers has a lot going for him and has been UConn’s best cornerback for two years. At one of the most sought-after positions in the game, a player with Summers’ lockdown potential will be enticing to pro scouts. He can solidify his status with a strong senior year.
DE/LB - Luke Carrezola
Carrezola also excels in a role on the field which is increasingly of critical importance in today’s NFL: the pass rusher.
Like Fatukasi, Carrezola is an accomplished backfield disruptor—posting 88 tackles, nine sacks, and 19.5 TFL over two seasons as a starter—who should improve on his numbers in the new defensive scheme.
If the Pennsylvania native can improve on his already-impressive numbers, he has the size and tools to be an early-round pick next year.
Tier 2: Could Be Picked
RB - Arkeel Newsome
Newsome is a hard-working, no-nonsense player with a tantalizing skillset who has not put up huge numbers but will definitely catch the eye of an offensive coordinator somewhere.
A proficient pass-catcher out of the backfield who is dangerous in space, the former Ansonia High standout has been productive for two years and if he saves his best for last could really boost his stock as a senior.
LB - Junior Joseph
He’s been starting games since his redshirt freshman season and has been a highly-rated player, but his numbers and athleticism don’t jump off the page and his position is slightly devalued in the league these days.
Joseph has all the tools to succeed at the next level but, like Smallwood in 2014, there’s a wide range of where scouts will peg him after it’s all said and done.
LB - Vontae Diggs
Diggs burst onto the scene with a strong junior season, racking up 84 tackles and eight TFL in 2016. Another season like that will put him very much on the radar in 2018.
Tier 3: Probably Off the Radar But Could Easily Get On It
RB - David Williams
A graduate transfer from South Carolina, Williams is a former 4-star recruit who could have a big year for the Huskies. He displayed great all-around ability at South Carolina but simply couldn’t break into a highly competitive rotation.
If he can post a big season, his relative lack of wear and tear could make him an attractive option in the draft.
TE - Tommy Myers & Alec Bloom
These two tight ends have the same basic story: they’re big, talented, athletic and have great potential but have been underutilized in the team’s offense. If Rhett Lashlee turns out to be better at utilizing Myers’ and/or Bloom’s talents, it could vault them into contention.
CB - Tre’ Bell
Bell, a cornerback from New Jersey, will have one year to prove himself after transferring from Vanderbilt.
2019 may be a lean year for Husky NFL hopefuls. Right now it seems Ryan Crozier, Hergy Mayala, and Tyraiq Beals have the best shot but obviously it’s still early.