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December 22, 2014

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Football:

Some former Vegas standouts who could go in the NFL draft

Image

Dave Martin / AP

Arizona receiver Juron Criner runs a drill at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012.

The dream for any young football player is to be the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. This year, unless your name is Andrew Luck, that's not going to happen. But there should still be a few former Las Vegas high school standouts taken in the draft, which spans three days, ending Saturday.

On Saturday, there will even be a few UNLV players holding their breath and hoping against hope to hear their names.

There's a trio of former Rebels who should be able to get into an NFL training camp once the draft is over. Here's a look at both groups of three, with some bio information for each:

    • Billy Winn, DT, Boise State

      Height: 6’ 3 3/4"

      Weight: 294 lbs.

      Arm length: 32.4”

      Hand size: 9”

      Overall rank: 96

      Position rank: 12

      40 time: 4.85 seconds

      Scouts' grade: 70 (Third round)

      Vegas High’s Winn will be the first area player off the board, possibly as early as the second round. He ran a 5.0 in the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine, but at Boise State’s pro day, he cut it to 4.85 — a big difference that puts him among the quickest defensive tackles in the draft. He finished his Broncos career with 15.5 sacks, an impressive number out of the middle of the line.

      Winn’s turnaround at Boise State’s pro day really improved his standing.

      “Billy looked a lot better than he’s looked since the season ended,” a scout told the Idaho Statesman. “… I thought he struggled at the Senior Bowl and struggled at the combine. He looked like the explosive athlete you expected to see today.”

    • Arizona wide receiver Juron Criner, right, dives into the end zone to score a touchdown against Southern California during the second half of their NCAA college football game in Los Angeles, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009. At left is USC's Josh Pinkard. Arizona won 21-17.

      Juron Criner, WR, Arizona

      Height: 6' 2 1/2"

      Weight: 224 lbs.

      Arm length: 32"

      Hand size: 10.4"

      Overall rank: 169

      Position rank: 25

      40 time: 4.68 seconds

      Scouts' grade: 54 (Fifth round)

      Criner made the Sun’s all-decade team after a stellar career at Canyon Springs, and he was solid at Arizona with 75 catches for 956 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior. He doesn’t have breakaway speed, but scouts have credited him for the ability to “box out” defenders from the ball to give himself the best chance to make a catch. That may be as important as speed in the NFL, where defensive backs are often just as quick as receivers.

      His poor 40-yard dash time (4.68 seconds) will probably keep certain teams away, but Criner’s production speaks louder and puts him in the fourth- to sixth-round range. The best guess is right in between, somewhere in the fifth round.

    • Notre Dame wide receiver Golden Tate, center, is tackled by Nevada cornerback Isaiah Frey, right, and linebacker Brandon Marshall during an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Sept. 5, 2009.

      Brandon Marshall, OLB, Nevada

      Height: 6' 1 3/8"

      Weight: 242 lbs.

      Arm length: 33.3

      Hand size: 10.3

      Overall rank: 215

      Positional rank: 20

      40 time: 4.7 seconds

      Scouts' grade: 42

      Cimarron-Memorial’s Marshall is strong, he’s smart in the open field, and with the right tutoring, he could be a solid linebacker for the next 10 years (hello, Chicago and Baltimore). While he probably doesn’t have the speed to make up ground against NFL-caliber offensive players right now, he’s going to get a chance with some team, which is all you can really ask for.

      He may have to sweat it out until the sixth or seventh rounds, but even if he goes undrafted, and that’s unlikely, Marshall would have his choice of clubs as a highly sought free agent.

    • Phillip Payne, WR, UNLV

      Height: 6’ 3”

      Weight: 205 lbs.

      40 time: 4.6 seconds

      Scouts' grade: 1.96 (Free agent)

      Like the other Rebels on this list, Payne is not expected to hear his name called in the draft. His off-the-field issues certainly don’t help, but more important is his tailing production. The Western grad is UNLV’s career leader in touchdown receptions (26), but he may have a hard time making a roster, even with an invitation to camp. Still, he’s proved enough that that invitation will almost certainly come, and once you’re there, anything can happen.

    • Deante Purvis, KR, UNLV

      Height: 5’ 10”

      Weight: 198 lbs.

      Positional rank: 98

      Scouts' grade: 30 (Free agent)

      40 time: 4.35 seconds

      The best things Purvis has going for him are speed and versatility. He has run a 4.3-second 40-yard dash, which will always raise eyebrows around the league. As for versatility, he’s a solid kick returner who could also play defensive back or running back, depending on what a team would want to do with him.

      Purvis’ quickness will get him into a camp, and looking good in the return game is probably his best chance to catch on with a team.

    • James Dunlap, DE, UNLV

      Height: 6’ 1”

      Weight: 245 lbs.

      40 time: 4.87 seconds

      Rush end is always a coveted position in the NFL, and with 6.5 sacks last year, Dunlap will get a chance to prove himself in a training camp. He’s been training for the draft on UNLV’s campus, where he can keep an eye on the group faced with the daunting task of replacing his production. Like the other UNLV players on this list, Dunlap won’t likely hear his name and must wait for a call from an NFL team with an invite to training camp. It’s not a guarantee, but Dunlap should get that call.

    Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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