For the first time since 2004, three Golden Eagles were picked in the NFL Draft, which is the most by any of the Conference USA schools.
Defensive back Tarvarius Moore led the Golden Eagles draft class after being picked in the third round (No. 95 overall) by the San Francisco 49ers. The pick used to select Moore was acquired last Friday in the trade that sent offensive tack Trent Brown to the New England Patriots. Although Moore was not projected to be drafted in most mock drafts, it is safe to say he left an impression at his Pro Day workout where he posted a 4.32 40-yard dash and had a vertical jump of 39 1/2 inches. Moore played safety but will most likely move to cornerback based on the 49ers defensive scheme. Moore will be able to sit behind Richard Sherman and is projected to work his way into seeing playing time as a rookie.
Running back Ito Smith followed in the fourth round (No. 126 overall) and is the first Southern Miss running back to be drafted since 1998. Smith is the all-time leader in all-purpose yards at 6,462 and is the 10th player in FBS history to have 4,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving. Smith will most likely serve as a return specialist and play a role in being a thirdstring running back when needed. It is worth noting that second-string Tevin Coleman is in his final contract year and has also had several injuries in his early career. Smith is also a viable option for a running back that can be involved in the passing game.
Surprisingly, defensive back Cornell Armstrong was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the sixth round (No. 209 overall). Armstrong was the second defensive back selected by the Dolphins with their first pick being Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick. Armstrong will probably start out with special teams due to his speed, but he could see playing time in the future based on how unsteady the Dolphins defense will be.
Wide receiver Korey Robertson’s expectations fell short after being projected to go in as high as the third round in multiple mock drafts and being invited to the NFL combine. Robertson signed as an undrafted free agent to the Minnesota Vikings despite not being drafted. Robertson will join former Golden Eagles Dylan Bradley and Rashod Hill.
Other Golden Eagles will also get the opportunity to extend their careers. Tight end Julian Allen, offensive lineman Devin Farrior, defensive lineman Draper Riley and defensive Curtis Mikell have been invited to try out at rookie minicamps.