FIU grads focusing on the NFL Draft

FIU Football HelmetPhoto by PantherNOW

Peter Holland, Jr. // Staff Writer

The Panthers have been in a four-year drought without having any of their NFL prospects getting drafted.  All of that could change this year with the NFL draft coming up on April 27-29.

Now, it’s a safe bet that neither of the FIU prospects will go first round, second round, or even third round. However, somewhere in the fourth through seventh round range, at least one of the 32 teams could possibly look deep into considering one of the FIU alumni and take them in for development, special team purposes or to build depth in the needed position. Here are my top four players NFL teams might consider or even might get their named called when draft day comes.

Jonnu Smith tight end 6’3 248

With a loaded tight end class this year, Smith could be the best tight end who no one is talking about and has been following the same path as his fellow alumni and NFL players T.Y. Hilton and Johnathan Cyprien. His resume speaks for itself as a four-year starter for the Panthers, being fourth all-time in career receptions (178), first among tight ends in catches and receiving yards (2,000).  The Philadelphia born elevated his draft stocks throughout the draft process. At the NFL scouting combine, he ran a 4.62 in the forty-yard dash, which is sixth best among tight ends. He also rep 22 in the 225-pound bench press which is second best among his position, and jump 38.0 inches in the vertical jump and 127.0 inches in the broad jump.

Dieugot Joseph offensive tackle 6’6 293

Joseph, who was also a four-year starter, has the NFL size to play offensive tackle at the next level. The Orlando native came long from being recruited as a defensive end coming out of high school to starting every game his senior year at left tackle, which earned him All-C-USA honorable mention and named team captain from the start of last season. Lance Zierlein, an analyst for NFL.com, wrote a scouting report on Joseph, saying his size and stature could wow NFL scouts when evaluating the prospect.

“Intriguing physical traits and tools, but he will need extensive technique work in order to eliminate some of the bad habits that are holding him back,” Zierlein said in his scouting report. “Teams will be attracted to his length, and one will take him on Day 3 (Rounds 4-7) and try and bring him along slowly as a left tackle lottery ticket they hope pays off down the line.”

Imarjaye Albury defensive tackle 6’0 293

Albury was a highly recruited defensive tackle coming out of Miami Northwestern High School. He originally signed to play for University of West Virginia before transferring out after he redshirted his freshman year. He eventually found his way back home in Miami to play for FIU and has made an impact on defense for the past three seasons. He may not wow people with his defensive stats due to the fact that he lines up at nose tackle, where his job is to disrupt the offensive line, get penetration and make sure his linebackers don’t get touch when making the tackle. In his FIU pro day last month, he put up 41 reps during the 225 lbs. bench press. When talking to him during Panther Sports Talk Live, the Miami native is confident in the progress to be made.

“I feel like I’m in a good position,” said Albury. “I’m not ranked too high but I’m not ranked too low. I feel great and I feel confident in my abilities. I just want to show them what they already know about me and what they see on film.”

Michael Montero offensive center 6’2 299

Four years ago, Montero entered the football program as a walk on, coming out of Miami Columbus High School. Now an FIU graduate four years later, Montero has accomplished himself as the Panthers’ most consistent player after anchoring the offensive line for the past three years.  The two-time All-C-USA honoree, alongside his former teammate Joseph helped produced 4,503 total yards, which is fourth ranked all-time in FIU history. He also played a key role for blocking for senior running back Alex Gardner, who is FIU’s all-time leading rusher, for the past two seasons (2,720) and for starting quarterback Alex McGough, who is FIU’s all-time leader in touchdown passes (48).

The NFL draft will begin Thursday night on April 27 and will end on Saturday on April 29.

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