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Utah Utes football: Cornerback Keith McGill draft stock rising due to rare size

Utah cornerback Keith McGill.
Utah cornerback Keith McGill. Photo by George Frey

After a stellar NFL Combine in Indianapolis in which the physical attributes such as speed and agility were tested -- and applauded -- for Utah Utes cornerback Keith McGill, it is now nearing the time for one NFL team to step up to the podium at NFL Draft 2014 and select him.

But first, it’s time for McGill’s abilities to be picked apart like fried chicken at the dinner table by hungry journalists. Granted, McGill, who converted from safety to cornerback, only has played one full season of football at Utah -- and spent the better part of two on the injured list -- but you cannot ignore what he brings to that table. At 6-foot-3-inches, he’s taller than most receivers and bigger at 211 pounds.

And, not only is he taller and bigger than most receivers, he dwarfs most players in current NFL secondaries. Those intangibles alone may persuade one NFL team to gamble on McGill and pick him higher than expected.

On Thursday, April 24 the website WalterFootball.com predicted that McGill, who many mock drafts predict will be selected in the mid-to-late third round -- will go late in the second round to San Francisco. Their reasoning? The 49ers need serious help at cornerback -- and McGill fits such a need with several key players having departed in the offseason.

“San Francisco's group of cornerbacks isn't very strong, as Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown have both moved on to new teams. The 49ers are weak at this position, so they could easily spend two early selections on upgrades in the 2014 NFL Draft,” they added.

Others aren’t so sure about McGill. The Detroit Lions are another team that needs help at cornerback -- but even a sizzling performance at the NFL Combine isn’t enough to convince Mlive reporter Justin Rogers that McGill has the tools to go in the second round; he predicts the former Ute will be picked in the third.

Greg Gabriel, a former scout himself with the Chicago Bears, says McGill certainly has those rare gifts of height and size -- and can even play on the outside against receivers, a rarity for any cornerback. But there are serious questions for him going into this draft.

"McGill has good ball reactions and gets a number of broken up passes, but he has questionable hands. I have seen him drop too many potential interceptions. In run support, he reacts well, but he is not aggressive enough. He is not the tackler he should be given his rare size,” Gabriel added.

The general consensus on McGill seems to be that he’ll be selected in the late second to middle of the third round of the draft. Even DraftTek.com -- which has all seven rounds mocked on its Web site -- has McGill going late in round two in its Mock Draft to Denver because like many NFL teams, the Broncos have shorter cornerbacks.

So, will some NFL team risk everything and pick McGill even higher than that projected late second round to early third round consensus? Only time will tell and right now, time is on McGill's side.