Tuesday Draft Notes -- 9.0

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

A lot of news coming from the University of Washington this evening, as well as junior info spread out from the west coast to the state of Florida. Here’s the latest edition of Tuesday Draft Notes.

Sources this evening tell me it’s almost certain Vita Vea of Washington will enter the draft, and he’s expected to be an early pick. 

Area scouts compared Vea to former Oregon defensive lineman Haloti Ngata, the five-time Pro Bowler selected with the 12th pick of the 2006 draft. Scouts feel Vea, who considered entering last April’s draft, will be selected in the top half of round one, like Ngata was. Though it's still early, projections for the athletic big man are anywhere between picks eight and 15. This is in contrast to mid-September, when scouts were describing Vea’s stock as volatile.

We spoke about Vea’s awesome potential during our Washington preview in August but feel his propensity to take plays off is a red flag. I’m told area scouts are recommending teams overlook the intensity factor as Vea’s raw athleticism, talent and ability to develop into a multi-scheme, three-down defender is too good to pass up.

Scouts are not as high on Washington’s senior linebackers.

Some believe Keishawn Bierria is a very good college linebacker who does not project well to the next level while Azeem Victor, who suffered a fracture in his right leg one year ago, is having a poor season.

Both players entered the season stamped as second-day picks by Draft Analyst, and we feel that’s where they will ultimately be selected in next April’s draft. Many question Bierria’s speed and 40 time, but his instincts and football intelligence are top-notch. Victor made a swift recovery from what looked like a gruesome injury last November and is a dominant linebacker at full health.

There is a small faction in the scouting community that believes receiver/return specialist Dante Pettis could slide into the draft’s initial 42 selections. Pettis is in the middle of a tremendous campaign and recently set the NCAA career record for punt return touchdowns with his ninth against Oregon on Saturday. 

While Draft Analyst has upgraded Pettis to a third-round choice, we feel he’ll need to run exceedingly fast (low 4.3s) at the combine for any chance of cracking the top half of Round 2.

Two underclassmen whose names I continually hear connected with the draft are tackle Kolton Miller of UCLA and tight end Dalton Schultz of Stanford.

Miller has steadied the ship after a rough start to the season and has since done a decent job at left tackle. The redshirt junior started five games at right tackle in 2016 before suffering a season-ending injury.

Draft grades for Schultz are all over the place and range from as early as the second round to as late as the sixth round. We presently have a fifth-round grade on Schultz, who has caught 17 passes for 181 yards this season.

The sorry situation at Florida should surprise no one. The program placed at least one player in the first round of the NFL Draft in 11 of the past 12 years -- and they won’t come close in 2018.

The team’s top senior prospect, cornerback Duke Dawson, was given a mid-round grade by scouts. The top underclassman, receiver Antonio Callaway, has been suspended by the team and is facing felony charges as a result of his participation in a credit card scandal.

I’m told the only player who has a chance to crack the second day of the draft is junior defensive tackle Taven Bryan, and he would need springs to jump into the top 99 picks.