The long wait is almost over for Connecticut's Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Sio Moore, Dwayne Gratz and Trevardo Williams. They've done their individual drills, worked with professional trainers, tested at the NFL Combine and participated in UConn's pro day to put their skills on display for scouts from around the league.
Now it is time for the draft. All four are expected to be drafted, although it seems highly unlikely that any will hear their name called during the first round Thursday night in New York City. Watch live TV coverage of the draft on either ESPN or NFL Network. The first round begins Thursday at 8 p.m. Rounds 2-3 begin Friday at 6:30 p.m. And the draft wraps up Saturday at noon with rounds 4-7.
Depending on which mock draft prediction you trust, either Moore or Wreh-Wilson will be the first UConn player selected. One or both could go in the second round. Earlier this week, long-time ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr., included Moore among his 15 "fringe round 1 prospects." Moore has been gaining momentum since he played in the college all-star games and then was a top 10 finisher in four of the seven events at the Combine.
Moore's ability to play inside or outside linebacker could make him attractive to a team with a specific need, regardless of the defensive scheme that team uses.
"The question with Moore is whether he has a single defined position where you feel he can become great," Kiper wrote, while placing him among his "true sleepers" for first-round selection. "He's versatile, but teams see him in different roles, so he has a wide draft range. I'd consider him a Round 1 reach, but he can fit multiple schemes."
There is speculation that the Patriots are interested in Wreh-Wilson, especially if they can get him in the second round. Gratz and Wreh-Wilson, both cornerbacks, should add their names to a growing list of UConn defensive backs who have become popular selections in the draft. Tyvon Branch (Oakland, 2008), Darius Butler (New England, 2009), and Robert McClain (Carolina, 2010) have paved the way.
An ankle injury bothered Williams at the Combine and on pro day at UConn, so he could drop from his projected fourth-round status to sixth round. His quickness off the edge should make him attractive to teams utilizing a 3-4 scheme. Williams could play defensive end or outside linebacker.
It wouldn't be surprising to see some team use a late pick to take UConn tight end Ryan Griffin, considered by some to be a sleeper. When the draft ends Saturday night, there will be a flurry of undrafted free agents and Griffin might fall into that category. Other Huskies who call fall into that category would be Nick Williams (wide receiver, returner), Ryan Wirth (defensive tackle), Mike Smith (wide receiver), Adam Masters (offensive line), Teddy Jennings (defensive end), Jory Johnson (linebacker) and John Delahunt (tight end).
At least one Husky has been picked in every draft since 2007 and 16 have been selected since 2005. UConn had four players drafted in both 2009 and 2011.
Here's a sampling of some mock projections for the UConn players.
Peter Schrager, FoxSports.com
Sio Moore: Round 2, Pick 51 overall, Washington Redskins
Dwayne Gratz, Round 3, Pick 85 overall, Washington Redskins
Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Round 4, 111 overall, Miami Dolphins
Josh Norris, NFL Network
Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Round 2, Pick 45 overall, San Diego Chargers
Sio Moore, Round 3, Pick 68 overall, Cleveland Browns
Trevardo Williams, Round 4, Pick 128 overall, San Francisco 49ers
Dwayne Gratz, Round 5, Pick 142 overall, Tennessee Titans
Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Round 2, Pick 44 overall, Carolina Panthers
Sio Moore, Round 2, Pick 56 overall, Seattle Seahawks
Dwayne Gratz: Round 3, 65 overall, Detroit Lions
Trevardo Williams: Round 6, 170 overall, Kansas City Chiefs
For a breakdown by position, check out Scout.com's NFL Draft Central, posted here on the Connecticut Home page.