Four UCF products were selected in the 2018 NFL Draft. This year, only Trysten Hall was taken by the Cowboys in the second round.
Following their improbable march to an undefeated 2017 season and statement victory over Auburn in the Peach Bowl (34-27), UCF saw four key players selected in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Of the four Knights starters chosen, three were taken within the first 100 picks.
- CB Mike Hughes: 1st Round, 30th overall by the Vikings
- WR Tre’Quan Smith: 3rd Round, 91st overall by the Saints
- TE Jordan Atkins: 3rd Round, 98th overall by the Texans
- LB Shaqueem Griffin: 5th Round, 141st overall by the Seahawks
However, as similar as the 2018 season was to the previous, losing just one game to LSU in the Fiesta Bowl (40-32), the 2019 NFL Draft resulted in far different outcomes for UCF players.
New year, different results
Just one UCF Knight heard his name called during the NFL’s three-day celebration held in Nashville, TN — April 25-27.
Junior defensive tackle Trysten Hill was selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the 58th pick in the second round.
Hill, who racked up 36 tackles, 10.5 for a loss and three sacks in his final year at UCF, barely played in the team’s Bowl loss to LSU. Citing maturity and coachability issues, Hill started only one of 11 games all season.
Leaving UCF on a sour note, Hill did not thank the coaching staff upon declaring for the draft, despite being a significant force in the Knights AAC Championship Game win over Memphis (56-41); six tackles, three for a loss and two sacks.
According to USA Today, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett made it clear that the organization did a thorough job of vetting the 21-year-old defensive lineman.
“We talked to a lot of people there, we talked to a lot of guys on the previous staff and felt very good about the kind of young man he is,” said Garrett. “He’s still a young guy, he’s still maturing. But the stuff that we think is most important- he loves ball, he wants to work at it, he wants to be great, he wants to be part of something special- we feel like he has all those qualities. And
hopefullywe can put him in a good environment where we bring that out of him.”
Hill becomes the first UCF player chosen by the Cowboys; the third highest draft pick of any UCF defensive player and is the 41st player selected in school history.
Undrafted UCF free-agents
Four former Knights have officially signed as undrafted free-agents, while another four were invited to various teams’ mini-camps.
Much like former UCF cornerback turned 2017 Pro Bowler, A.J. Bouye, it’s entirely possible to “come out of nowhere” and make a mark in the NFL.
As for the men whose contracts are now official, cornerback Rashard Causey has inked a deal with the Falcons; offensive tackle Wyatt Miller goes to the Jets; wide receiver Dredrick Snelson to the Jaguars and kicker Matthew Wright heads to the Steelers.
The four players that received invitations to mini-camps include tight-end Michael Colubiale, who stays in-state for the time being with the Jags; punter Mac Loudermilk does the same, only for the Bucs, safety Kyle Gibson will try his hand with the Ravens and running back Taj McGowan hopes to impress the Giants.
While many speculate that quarterback McKenzie Milton could have been a mid-round draft pick, had he not suffered that horrific injury versus USF on Nov. 23, there’s no telling if he would have even declared — not with his senior year of eligibility hanging in the balance.
Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until 2020, to see if Milton can get his NFL dreams back on track.