As the NFL draft creeps up on football fans, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons have potentially three players that may hear their names starting from Day 2 (Rounds 2-3). Jessie Bates, Duke Ejiofor, and Cam Serigne all have been pegged as potential picks, some even as high as the second round.
After not having a player drafted in 2016, Marquel Lee was drafted in the 2017 draft and played for the Oakland Raiders, totaling action in 13 games with six starts and 25 combined tackles. This year, Wake is hopeful that more players will get drafted, continuing to show the progress and improvement of the football program during Coach Clawson’s tenure.
A tall and lean safety from Indiana, Bates left with two years left of eligibility after a strong career with the Deacs. On tape, Bates flashed ability to cover like a corner in the slot while also being the “centerfielder” for the defense. Some pundits are extremely high on Bates, slotting him to potentially be a “Pro Bowl - caliber player”. Bates was invited to the NFL Combine and performed very well, placing as a top performer for the safety positional group in many categories such as the 3 cone drill, 20 yard shuttle, and 60 yard shuttle.
Prediction: Jessie Bates will be drafted in the 2nd-3rd round and start the whole season as a rookie.
Somewhat surprisingly returning for his senior season after compiling 50 tackles, 10.5 sacks, and 17 tackles for loss in his junior season, Ejiofor did not disappoint in his final campaign with similar statistics while nursing injury. Although he didn’t perform at the combine due to the an injury to his labrum, Ejiofor is considered to be a strong candidate to come in a compete for a starting spot as a 4-3 defensive end or potentially a 3-4 outside linebacker. My fellow NFL SB Nation colleague and NFL Draft guru, Sosa Kremenjas (you can follow him on Twitter @SosaKre) broke down his fit as a prospect for the Rams but also highlighted his ability and technique. It’s a great read with videos/gifs if you want to see how people break down film.
Prediction: Duke Ejiofor will be draft in the 3rd-4th round as start multiple games as a rookie.
A tight end from Virginia who burst onto the scene as a freshman with 54 catches, 531 yards, and 5 touchdowns, Serigne was the security blanket for the Demon Deacon passing offense. Despite catching passes from multiple quarterbacks, Serigne always performed, saving his best season for last with 44 catches, 556 yards, and 9 touchdowns. Serigne is more of a receiving threat and could find a role with a team as more and more teams lean on tight ends to create receiving mismatches.
Prediction: Cam will be a priority free agent and get to a training camp.