In preparation for the 2014 NFL Draft, NFLDraftScout.com will profile the top draft-eligible prospects from FBS-level programs. This summer series will run until the start of the college football season.
NFL Draft picks the past five years: Seven
2013 NFL Draft picks: Two -- RB Letavius Murray (Oakland Raiders, sixth round), S Kemal Ishmael (Atlanta Falcons, seventh round)
The upcoming draft class may not boast any day-one talent from UCF, but it does feature in-the-trenches prospects with the upside to garner late-round consideration if they can put together strong showings as seniors. DT E.J. Dunston and OG Jordan McCray lead the Knights' senior class and are two of the top players at their given positions in the new American Athletic Conference.
Top UCF prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft:
1. DT E.J. Dunston (6-2, 308, 5.18)
Dunston completed his first full year as a starter for the Knights in 2012 and certainly left his mark, posting a total of 39 tackles including five for a loss and one sack. While not an elite athlete, Dunston does exhibit good timing off the snap, impressive initial burst, and very strong hand technique as he routinely gets his arms extended and into the chest plate of his opponent. Once engaged, Dunston shows good vision and awareness to anticipate run direction, and is extremely active and violent with his hands to punch and disengage from his blocker. He also does a good job of combining his active hands with quick, agile feet for a swat-to-step-around combination to collapse the pocket from the interior. Dunston's primary limitation seems to be his lack of lower-half flexibility. He'll lock his knees and bend at the waist when engaging, and will get "high" through gaps, leaving him susceptible to being stood up and pushed off the block. While Dunston is not the eye-popping athlete or mammoth physical specimen that teams typically look for in the early rounds, his strong technique and instincts should certainly merit draft consideration in 2014 as a strong run-defender with some intriguing upside as a pass-rusher.
Other UCF prospects worth watching:
RB Storm Johnson (6-0, 218, 4.54)*
Transferred from the University of Miami in 2011, posted 507 yards on 113 carries and four rushing TDs in his first year at UCF. Also caught 10 passes for 20 yards. Possesses good balance of size, speed and power, and should push for starting role, as well as significant attention from NFL scouts as a junior.
OG Jordan McCray (6-4, 310, 5.34)
2012 All-C-USA honorable mention. Started every game at guard, moving between LG and RG. Versatile, physical competitor with good burst to the second level, and impressive natural power on contact. Not a fluid slider, and struggles to break down. Will need to show better movement in space as a senior.
OT Chris Martin (6-5, 284, 4.98)
Big, athletic tackle who converted to the O-line from tight end, midway through his junior year, appearing in 12 total games with one start at tackle. Has immense upside, but multiple suspensions have marred his UCF career and he'll need to show improvement both on and off the field as a senior, if he's to earn draft consideration.
WR Jeff Godfrey (5-11, 187, 4.54)
Explosive athlete who moved from QB to WR in 2012 and caught 39 passes for 429 yards and three TDs. Also ran the ball 12 times for 70 yards, and completed 2 of 3 passes. Not a burner, but extremely quick in and out of cuts. If he can refine his route-running, he could draw significant interest next May.
OG Justin McCray (6-4, 308, 5.34)
Twin brother of Jordan McCray. Flipped between RG and RT during the season, starting every game. Continued versatility and a bit more bulk could earn him a look from NFL teams.