The Hurricanes will be well represented in Indianapolis.
Nine players with ties to Miami — eight who played last season — received invitations to the NFL combine, according to a roster the league released Wednesday.
That’s five more than last year for the Hurricanes (9-4, 5-3 ACC), who finished 2016 with a five-game winning streak, their first bowl victory since 2006 and the No. 20 ranking in the Associated Press poll.
Quarterback Brad Kaaya, tight end David Njoku, wide receiver Stacy Coley, cornerback Corn Elder, offensive guard Danny Isidora, safeties Rayshawn Jenkins and Jamal Carter and punter Justin Vogel made the combine cut, as did former Hurricanes defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad, who was dismissed before the season.
The NFL Scouting Combine, sometimes referred to as the “Underwear Olympics,” is held Feb. 28 through March 6 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. In all, 330 players are invited to be measured, tested in speed, strength, agility and position-specific drills, and interview with executives from all 32 NFL teams. NFL Network broadcasts the entire week of events on various platforms.
Two players who will have to impress scouts in non-combine workouts: running back Joe Yearby, who surprised some by turning pro, and former linebacker Jermaine Grace, who was dismissed along with Muhammad after UM found they may have accepted luxury rental cars.
Including Muhammad — who will work out at UM’s Pro Day in late March — Miami tied national champion Clemson (also nine) for the greatest number of combine participants in the ACC. Nationally, only Michigan (14), Alabama and LSU (10 each) had more.
The first Hurricanes player off the board should be Njoku. ESPN’s Todd McShay rates the 6-foot-4, 245-pound tight end 16th among all prospects, saying he’s “a clear-cut first-rounder, from a talent perspective.” McShay’s latest mock draft has Njoku going No. 22 to the Miami Dolphins.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. ranks Njoku 22nd overall — “among the most athletic tight ends in recent years,” he wrote — and said he could be the first tight end drafted (over Alabama’s O.J. Howard) with a good combine showing.
Who will be the second Miami player taken? Probably Kaaya. CBSSports rates him fifth among quarterbacks and a third-round pick. CBSSports has him as the second-best tight end and the 30th overall player.
Kaaya, who left after his junior season, and Njoku, a redshirt sophomore, were two of the 77 underclassmen who turned pro and were invited to the combine. Yearby was one of 18 underclassmen who did so and were not.
CBSSports grades four Hurricanes — Isidora, Coley, Elder and Jenkins — good enough to be taken in Rounds 4-5. That outlet considers Vogel a late-round pick or priority free agent, and doesn’t think Yearby, Carter, Grace, Muhammad or any other Miami players will be drafted.
Njoku is the only Miami player rated among Kiper’s top-five-by-position. He is second among tight ends. Sports Illustrated ranks Njoku third among tight ends, Kaaya fifth among quarterbacks and Isidora seventh among guards.
The NFL draft is April 27-29.