Which UConn football players will be selected in the NFL Draft?

Safety Obi Melifonwu will likely be the first Huskies player off the board, after an eye-opening performance at the NFL Draft Combine. (AP Photo/Stew Milne, FIle)

The NFL Draft begins on April 27 as teams will select the nation’s top college football players in hopes they can contribute to a Super Bowl title. Despite UConn football coming off a disappointing 2016 season, this year’s senior class features some talented players who are hoping to continue their careers beyond Pratt & Whitney Stadium. Here’s a look at who has the best chances at being drafted.

Will Be Drafted:

Obi Melifonwu – DB

This one is a no brainer. Melifonwu wowed everyone at this year’s NFL Combine and has been jumping up mock draft boards ever since. He had a 44-inch vertical jump and ran a 4.40 second 40-yard dash, all but ensuring his selection in the early rounds of the draft. In a recent CBS Sports mock draft, R.J. White had Melifonwu being taken as high as 19th overall.

noel thomas Which UConn football players will be selected in the NFL Draft?
Norwalk’s Noel Thomas, who set a school record for receptions last year, is also expected to be drafted. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Noel Thomas – WR

The Huskies’ top receiver set a program record with a staggering 100 receptions last season. He racked up 1,179 receiving yards with three touchdowns, nearly averaging 100 yards per game. Despite tweaking his hamstring while running the 40-yard dash, Thomas has a good chance at being taken in the draft’s later rounds and finding work as a big slot receiver until his route running improves.

May Be Drafted:

Andreas Knappe – OL

Standing at 6’8″ and weighing 325 pounds is 25-year-old Andreas Knappe. Hailing from Denmark and not playing football until he was 18 years old, Knappe features an imposing frame with strong pass blocking abilities. Despite the older age and less than stellar run-stopping skills, Knappe features less miles on his body than most of his competition and could be an interesting late-round project.

Mikal Myers – DL

Myers was a nightmare for running backs, as he finished eighth in the nation for DTs with 33 run stops. However, with just three hurries in 305 snaps, his pass rushing skills need drastic improvement if he wants to become a starter at the NFL level. There’s enough need in the league for players who can stop the run for Myers to potentially hear his name called in the late rounds of the draft.

Jhavon Williams – CB

A three-year starter at cornerback for the Huskies, Williams has enjoyed modest success with UConn by finishing with 125 solo tackles and recording at least one interception in all but one season. However, with his vertical jump being slightly below the NFL average at 33 1/2 inches, Williams may struggle to keep up with receivers at the next level. With that being said, a team may take a shot with a late-round pick as cornerbacks are always of high value in this league.

Possible Undrafted Free Agents:

Bobby Puyol – K

Puyol enjoyed his best year with the Huskies in 2015 when he drilled 16 field goals on 18 attempts, including a 52-yarder. He was also one of 20 finalists for the Lou Groza Award which is given to college football’s best kicker each year. He finished his career this past fall with a field goal percentage of 76.5%. While Puyol certainly has the range to kick at the NFL level, his inaccuracy (64.3% in 2014 and 72.2% in 2016) may only merit a training camp invite.

Matt Walsh – LB

After playing his first two years as a fullback with the Huskies, Walsh was converted into one of the team’s most reliable linebackers for the next two seasons. In his senior year, he was fourth on the team with 72 tackles, and also recorded a career-high 12 tackles in a loss against Navy. While Walsh has pedestrian stats as a linebacker, his versatility on the field may earn him a spot in a team’s training camp.

The 2017 NFL Draft begins on April 27 and runs through April 29.

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