The NFL draft this spring could have a solid Middle Georgia feel to it with five area prospects in the mix to be selected.
That starts with former Wilkinson County star Alvin Dupree, who is expected to be a first-round pick after his career at Kentucky. Former Northside standout Steven Nelson (Oregon State) and Wilcox County product Nick Marshall (Auburn) are expected to be drafted in the middle rounds. Tattnall Square’s DeAndre Smelter (Georgia Tech) and Dooly County’s Keith Mumphery have a chance in the later rounds.
Dupree had a solid career at Kentucky as a defensive end and then had a terrific showing at the NFL Scouting Combine with a 42-inch vertical jump, a 138-inch broad jump and a 4.56 time in the 40-yard dash.
“All the numbers across the board, everything about him, you say he’s a top-15 pick in the first round, at worst a top-25 pick,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said about Dupree in a teleconference this past week. “But I didn’t see consistent domination, and there were times where you saw a little bit of a lack of great instincts to find the ball. To me he’s a first-round pick, but you want to see if you can level him off to be more consistent. As a pass rusher, if you turn him loose with that kind of skill set -- he showed it at Kentucky; he flashed it -- he can be a really good player.”
Kiper said Dupree could go to teams like Cincinnati, Baltimore or Dallas. NFLdraftscout.com and cbssports.com both have Dupree as a first-round pick, as well.
Both sites have Nelson, a cornerback, as a second- or third-round pick. Nelson ran a 4.49 in the 40 at the combine. The NFL.com profile page says, “Nelson is tailor-made for the Tampa-2 scheme. An aggressive, physical player in run support who can also limit yards after catch underneath, Nelson does his best work in off coverage. As long as he can keep everything in front of him, Nelson should be able to compete for a starting spot in the league.”
Marshall played quarterback at Auburn but is making the transition to the secondary for the NFL. NFLdraftscout.com and cbssports.com both have him listed as a fifth-round pick.
Kiper likes what he sees of Marshall.
“I see him as more of a safety than a corner if you can develop him,” Kiper said. “He’s a competitor. In the third or fourth round, you could see Nick Marshall coming off the board as a developmental cornerback or safety. Marshall is intriguing. When you look at guy who can do as much as he can, there are a lot of things you can do with him.”
Smelter is still recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in the Yellow Jackets’ win over Georgia in November. He didn’t participate in the drills at the combine. Kiper described him as a “fourth- or fifth-round” pick at wide receiver before his injury.
NFL.com compares him to Eric Decker, who has played in the NFL for five seasons.
“Smelter is a former baseball player with outstanding hand-eye coordination,” the site’s profile of Smelter reads. “Smelter is an uber-athlete with a background of excellence in every sport he has played. He plays well beyond his experience level at wide receiver. His toughness, natural instincts and football intelligence should earn him a spot on a depth chart, provided there are no lasting effects from his ACL tear.”
Mumphery is also in the wide receiver group after his career at Michigan State. He ran a 4.54 at the combine. NFL.com’s profile describes him as “a hardworking leader and the kind of guy every college coach wants on his team, but his lack of athleticism and overall speed will make him a long shot to find a home on an NFL roster.”