University+of+Utah+senior+wide+receiver+Demari+Simpkins+%283%29%2C+Zack+Moss+%282%29+and+Tyler+Huntley+%281%29+get+interviewed+following+an+NCAA+Football+game+vs.+the+University+of+Colorado+at+Rice-Eccles+Stadium+in+Salt+Lake+City%2C+Utah+on+Saturday%2C+Nov.+30%2C+2019.+%28Photo+by+Kiffer+Creveling+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29

University of Utah senior wide receiver Demari Simpkins (3), Zack Moss (2) and Tyler Huntley (1) get interviewed following an NCAA Football game vs. the University of Colorado at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

ProUtes: Predicting the 2020 NFL Draft

April 21, 2020

 

Even though Utah football’s pro day was canceled and the upcoming NFL draft is limiting who will be allowed to the event, multiple Utes are hoping to hear their names called during the draft. Many of the members of the team held their own virtual pro days to get their stats out to all the NFL front office members. Here are the results:

 

Zack Moss

Stats

 Height: 5 feet 9 inches

Weight: 223 pounds 

Arms: 31 ¼ inches

Hands: 9 ¼ inches

40-yard dash: 4.65 seconds (combine); 4.52 (pro day) 

Bench: 19 reps

Vertical: 33 inches

20-yard shuttle: 4.37 seconds

Moss showed his ability to run over tacklers and show his power during his four seasons as a Ute. He is the current record holder for all-time rushing yards, all-purpose touchdowns, carries, 100-yard rushing games, all-purpose plays and rushing touchdowns. Moss is arguably the greatest running back to ever come through Utah and is primed to make a splash in the NFL.

What experts are saying

“Well-built with power dispersed throughout.”

“Both patient and urgent gears at his disposal.”

“Elite contact balance.”

“Absorbs contact like a cement truck.”

“[Can] move the chains and find the paint.”

Predictions for the draft

Second round.

 

University of Utah senior quarterback Tyler Huntley (1) handing the ball off to University of Utah senior running back Zack Moss (2) in the Pac-12 Championship Game vs. University of Oregon at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019.
(Photo by Curtis Lin | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

Tyler Huntley

Stats

Height: 6 feet 1 3/4 inches

Weight: 207 pounds 

Broad Jump: 10 feet 8.5 inches

Vertical: 43.5 inches

40-yard dash: 4.56 seconds

Three-cone drill: 6.84 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.31 seconds

One of the most notable snubs from this year’s combine was star QB Tyler Huntley. QB1 was a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and the Manning Award. He finished the season first in the conference and second in the nation in completion percentage (0.731), fifth in the nation and first in the Pac-12 in passing efficiency (177.6) and third in the country and first in the league in yards per pass attempt (10.27). Not only can he kill teams with his arms, but he can do the same with his feet.

What the experts are saying

“He shows good velocity on deep throws, especially off-play action.”

“Shows a good ball fake that linebackers will bite on before ripping it downfield.”

Predictions for the draft

Sixth round.

 

Demari Simpkins

Stats

 Height: 5 feet 11 inches

Weight: 191 pounds 

40-yard dash: 4.43 seconds 

Bench: 12 reps

Vertical: 33.5 inches

Broad Jump: 110 inches

Three-cone drill: 6.96 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.28 seconds

Simpkins was another four-year starter for the Utes who was respected for his speed and catching ability. Simpkins’ addition to the team went far beyond his receiving abilities, though, as he returned punts and kicks, including a return for a touchdown in his final game at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

What the experts are saying

“He is a man of many talents. Kick returning, blocking, receiving, and a motion athlete.”

Predictions for the draft

Free agency.

 

University of Utah senior defensive back Terrell Burgess (26) puts pressure on University of California freshman quarterback Spencer Brasch (13) in an NCAA football game vs. University of California at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019.(Photo by Curtis Lin | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

Terrell Burgess

Stats

 Height: 5 feet 11 inches

Weight: 202 pounds 

Arms: 29 ½ inches

Hands: 9 ¼ inches

40-yard dash: 4.46 seconds 

Bench: 20 reps

Vertical: 33.5 inches

Broad jump: 122 inches

Burgess is known for his high football IQ and his ability to sniff out plays before they begin. Burgess is one of the more quiet names for the Utes in the draft, but he is projected to make waves for an NFL team. His size, speed and athletic ability are bound to be key for NFL teams across the board.

What experts are saying

“Lauded by scouts, coaches and teammates for his preparation. Field awareness of a pro. Disciplined with good recognition for misdirection. Athletic twitchy feet with early burst.”

Predictions for the draft

Third round.

 

Julian Blackmon

Stats

Height: 6 feet 1 inch

Weight: 187 pounds

Arm: 31 inches

Hand: 9 inches

While his season was cut short due to an ACL injury, safety Julian Blackmon has the skills to play at the next level. In his senior campaign, he racked up postseason accolades, being named to the second-team Associated Press All-American and first-team All-Pac-12 honors as well as being invited to the combine.

What experts are saying

“The former cornerback has soft hands and carryover route-anticipation that should allow him to match against tight ends as a pro. He can play split safety, big nickel or help support the run as a down safety.”

Predictions for the draft

Fifth round.

 

University of Utah junior defensive tackle Leki Fotu (99) celebrates after sacking Brigham Young University freshman quarterback Zach Wilson (11) during an NCAA Football game at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

Leki Fotu

Stats

Height: 6 feet 5 inches

Weight: 330 pounds

Arms: 34 1/4 inches

Hands: 10 5/8 inches

Bench: 21 reps 

40-yard dash: 5.15 seconds

For the last three years, defensive lineman Leki Fotu has been one of the most consistent players on the field for the Utah defense. The West Valley City native was a huge part of the defense that helped clinch the south division title for the second year in a row. Fotu accounted for 29 tackles, nine for loss, 1.5 sacks, two pass breakups in the 13 games he started in. He was also named first-team All-Pac-12 as well as a member of the third-team Associated Press All-American team.

What experts are saying

“Single blocks won’t get much movement against him.”

“His initial lick carries jarring pop to blocker upright.”

Predictions for the draft

Fourth round.

John Penisini

Stats

Height: 6 feet 1 inch

Weight: 318 pounds

Arms: 32 ⅞ inches

Hands: 10 ½ inches

Vertical: 25.5 inches

Bench: 23 reps 

20-yard shuttle: 4.93 seconds

John Penisini was stout on the defensive line for the Utes, taking on many double teams and forcing his way into the backfield of just about every Pac-12 team. The Snow College transfer was a member of the two-headed monster of the interior line next to Leki Fotu for his two seasons on the hill. Penisini might not get drafted, but he has the potential to be a solid option for multiple NFL teams.

What experts are saying

“Wide through hips and legs but carries weight well.”

“Gets under blockers pads and works to full extension.”

“Above average arm length and big hands for his size.”

“Booming power in his hands.”

Predictions for the draft

Seventh round.

 

University of Utah senior defensive end Bradlee Anae (6) sacks UCLA sophomore quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (1) in an NCAA football game vs. UCLA at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. (Photo by Curtis Lin | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

Bradlee Anae

Stats

Height: 6 feet 3 inches

Weight: 257 pounds

Arms: 32 ⅛ inches

Hands: 10 ⅛ inches

Broad: 115 inches

Vertical: 31 inches

Bench: 25 reps

40-yard dash: 4.93 seconds

Three-cone drill: 7.44 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.43 seconds

The newest mayor of Sack Lake City is ready to make the move to the next level. Bradlee Anae is one of the most dominant defensive ends in the draft. He is known for his explosiveness off the snap and his ability to get to the quarterback. Anae’s build and physical aggressiveness will make an NFL team very happy.

What experts are saying

“Quick to land first at point of attack. Can play with hand up or down. Good extension when setting the edge. Explosive when getting upfield. Actively pursues strip-sacks.”

Predictions for the draft

Third round.

 

University of Utah Jaylon Johnson (1) scores a touchdown after catching an interception in an NCAA Football game vs. The Washington Husky in Husky Stadium in Seattle on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019 (Photo by Cassandra Palor | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

Jaylon Johnson

Stats

Height: 6 feet 0 inches

Weight: 193 pounds

Arms: 31 ⅜ inches

Hands: 9 ⅜ inches

Broad: 124 inches

Vertical: 36.5 inches

Bench: 15 reps 

40-yard dash: 4.5 seconds

Three-cone drill: 7.01 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.13 seconds 

Lockdown corner Jaylon Johnson decided to forgo his senior season at Utah in order to pursue a chance of going to the NFL. Johnson was the Utes’ go-to corner since his freshman year. In his final season alone, he accounted for a team-high 11 pass breakups as well as 36 tackles and two interceptions. Johnson has the speed as well as the length to go toe-to-toe with some of the best receivers in the league. The second-team Associated Press All-American and first-team All-Pac-12 member could be a starter in the NFL by his second season.

What experts are saying

“He’s a physical press corner with off-man ability whose anticipation and ball skills should continue to help him make plays as a CB1 and first-round pick.”

Predictions for the draft

Late first round.

 

Javelin Guidry

Stats

Height: 5 feet 9 inches

Weight: 191 pounds

Arms: 31 ¼ inches

Hands: 9 inches

Bench: 21 reps 

40-yard dash: 4.29 seconds

Just like Johnson, defensive back Javelin Guidry also elected to forgo his senior season in order to try his hand at the NFL. The speedster ran the fastest 40-yard time among corners and was the second fastest overall at the 2020 combine. In his final season for the Utes, Guidry accounted for 42 tackles and six pass breakups. While he is on the smaller side, his speed could be a thing that NFL teams are willing to roll the dice with him on.

What experts are saying

“Short but compact and well-built for a slot corner.”

“Has a 300-pound bench press and above-average strength for his size.”

Predictions for the draft

Seventh round.

 

University of Utah senior linebacker Francis Bernard (13) runs for a touchdown after making an interception vs. Brigham Young University during an NCAA football game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

Francis Bernard

Stats

Height: 6 feet 0 inches

Weight: 234 pounds

Arms: 31 ⅞ inches

Hands: 9 ⅞ inches

Broad: 120 inches

Vertical: 32.5 inches

Bench: 19 reps 

40-yard dash: 4.81 seconds (NFL); 4.65 (pro day)

Three-cone drill: 7.105 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.28 seconds

Bernard is one of the most underrated linebackers in college football. His ability to sniff out plays and stuff running backs in the backfield is impressive, and he should make for a great option for most defenses in the league. Bernard’s time as a running back makes his defensive IQ a level above most, and his gritty determination is sure to make its mark on offensive players.

What experts are saying

“Former running back with a sense for play recognition.”

“Quick to diagnose play direction.”

“Races ahead of blockers to beat them to the spot.”

“Accelerates feet into and through the tackle.”

“Soft hands with five interceptions in two years.”

Predictions for the draft

Seventh round.

 

Darrin Paulo

Stats

Height: 6 feet 5 inches

Weight: 315 pounds

While the three-year starter did not receive a combine invite, according to offensive line coach Jim Harding, he has the athleticism as well as the size to make it to the next level. Paulo was named to the all-Pac-12 first team after his senior season.

What the experts are saying

According to Scott Wright’s Draft Countdown, Paulo is the 22nd best offensive tackle in the draft.

Predictions for the draft

Free agency.

 

University of Utah junior defensive back Josh Nurse (14) rushed onto the field in an NCAA Football game vs. BYU at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, UT on Saturday November 24, 2018.(Photo by Curtis Lin | Daily Utah Chronicle)

Josh Nurse

Stats

Height: 6 feet 3 inches

Weight: 200 pounds

In his first season at the corner position Nurse showed skills at the position with 27 tackles (2.0 TFL, 1.0 sack) and also tied for third on the team with six pass breakups. He also recorded a forced fumble versus Cal. Nurse has the length to make big plays but at times during the season he got exposed. 

What the experts are saying

According to Scott Wright’s Draft Countdown, Nurse is the 63rd best corner in this upcoming draft.

Predictions for the draft

Free agency.

 

Hunter Thedford

Stats

Height: 6 feet 7 inches

Weight: 270 pounds

Broad: 122 inches

Vertical: 33 inches

Bench: 23 reps 

40-yard dash: 4.58 seconds

Three-cone drill: 6.65 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.28 seconds

Thedford didn’t get a ton of playing time, but made each moment count when he got on the field. Used more for his blocking ability, Thedford opened up holes for Moss and kept defenders away from Huntley through his senior season. Thedford could be a quiet killer for his future NFL team.

What experts are saying

“Has the chance to be a really good blocking tight end.”

Predictions for the draft

Free agency.

 

Other Utah players who are putting their names in the NFL draft include: Tareke Lewis (CB), Andrew Strauch (K), Derrick Vickers (ATH) and Paul Toala (C).

The NFL draft is set to begin on Thursday, April 23 and will run through Saturday, April 25.

 

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