The Miami Hurricanes did a lot of waiting during the 2014 NFL draft. Players used to fly off draft boards from Coral Gables onto NFL rosters but this year was very different. This year only three Hurricanes were drafted and it took more than 90 picks for the first to hear his name called.
That was offensive lineman Brandon Linder, who was selected in the third round with the 93rd overall pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday. Linder rejoins former Miami offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, who now holds the same position in Jacksonville.
“I can’t wait to get there and get to work. Coach Fisch is my guy. He coached me for two years, and I couldn’t be more excited to be working with him,” Linder told the Miami Herald.
Linder, who started all 13 games for Miami this past season, was surprised to hear his name called by the Jaguars. The 6-foot-6, 311-pound lineman told the Sun-Sentinel, “I wasn’t expecting it at all. I didn’t have a lot of contact with Jacksonville, but it was one of those things. Then it happened and I talked to the owner, the GM, the head coach and coach Fisch. I was with him a few years at Miami and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. I can’t wait to have him coach me again. I’m so excited.”
After Linder was selected it took three more rounds for another Hurricane to fly off the board, and this one was a bit of a surprise. With the 191st overall pick in the sixth round, the Chicago Bears selected punter Pat O’Donnell on Saturday.
O’Donnell was a first-team All-ACC selection and set a Miami single-season record with a 47.1 yards-per-punt average. He was also awarded the CFPA Punter Trophy in addition to being named a second team All-American by the USA Today.
One round later the third Hurricane came off the board and it was troubled offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson, taken by the Buffalo Bills with the 237th overall pick. Henderson’s draft stock had plummeted in recent weeks, as he didn’t finish his workout at Miami’s pro day. He also reportedly failed a drug test at the NFL Scouting combine according to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter last week.
“Here’s a situation where a kid has more God-given natural ability that you can even believe and he took all that ability and because of all the issues off the field turned himself from a first-round pick to a seventh-round pick,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said during the network’s draft coverage. “I wish the kid well. I hope Buffalo is able to help him grow up and I’d like to see nothing more than this kid grow into and mature into this massive talent that he has and become a really good guy.”
Henderson, who stands at a gigantic 6-foot-7, 331-pounds, was a third-team All-ACC selection and started eight games for the Hurricanes in 2013. Some projections had him as early as a second round pick before he fell all the way to the seventh. He was the 2009 USA TODAY High School Player of the Year and the No.1 recruit in the country but never quite lived up to expectations at Miami.
“This kid was the no. 1 guy,” ESPN analyst Mel Kiper, Jr. said. “He was who everybody wanted coming out of high school. He was supposed to be the next Jonathan Ogden — that type of player coming out of the prep ranks. If he can stay focused, if he can just be all football and no other problems, then he can be a factor in the NFL. But he got pushed way down, beyond where any player with his physical prowess should be.’’
After the draft there were also multiple players who signed free-agent contracts, according to UM. They included quarterback Stephen Morris (Jacksonville), receiver Allen Hurns (Jacksonville), defensive tackles Justin Renfrow (Arizona) and Curtis Porter (Oakland), fullback Maurice Hagans (Atlanta), offensive lineman Jared Wheeler (Carolina), tight end Asante Cleveland (San Francisco), safeties Kacy Rodgers II (Kansas City) and A.J. Highsmith (San Francisco), defensive end Shayon Green (Miami), and linebacker Jimmy Gaines (Buffalo). Basketball players Erik Swoope also signed a free agent contract with the Indianapolis Colts.