The Miami Hurricanes recently had a lackluster weekend at Radio City Music Hall, seeing only three players get drafted and many others forced to sign free-agent contracts.
But during the 2015 NFL draft, Miami will have an excellent opportunity to see its six-year drought without a first-round pick end. At the forefront, of course, is senior middle linebacker Denzel Perryman.
Though his draft status will obviously be much clearer after the upcoming season, the 'Canes' defensive leader is already one of the top players in all of college football.
And after the program's disappointing 2014 edition of the draft, Perryman is on track to provide a much-needed addition for the pipeline from Miami to the NFL.
What Has He Accomplished at Miami?
A homegrown product, the Coral Gables High graduate arrived at "The U" as a 3-star recruit, according to 247Sports.
Perryman made an immediate impression on the Miami defense, appearing in all 12 games as a true freshman and making five starts. He tallied 69 tackles (6.5 for loss) and forced two fumbles en route to being named a freshman All-American.
One season later, the Hurricanes expected great things, as he would help replace NFL-bound Sean Spence. Instead, Perryman was subjected to the renowned sophomore struggle, missing three games before managing 64 tackles, two pass breakups and one interception.
As a junior, however, Perryman made significant strides toward reaching that elite production. He finished the 2013 campaign with 108 tackles (5.0 for loss, 1.5 sacks), three pass breakups and one forced fumbles.
In January, Susan Miller Degnan of The Miami Herald reported the first-team All-ACC linebacker received a third-round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board. Ultimately, Perryman decided to stay at Miami to exhaust his eligibility, and he already made a lasting impression this spring by de-cleating teammate Gus Edwards.
After such a successful junior season and noteworthy start to his senior year, the 'Canes are already appreciative of their 2013 Defensive MVP electing to stick around for 2014.
What the Experts Are Saying
Darren Page of DetroitLionsDraft.com studied Perryman's performance against Florida and came away impressed, noting he saw "a wide array of skills that translate to the NFL."
He was impossible to block at the second level, using his hands to play off offensive linemen and free himself to make plays. His footwork was strong in coverage and he was quick to pick up on routes. ... If his showing against Florida is what we can come to expect from Denzel Perryman, he'll be the next Miami linebacker to earn himself a starting spot in the NFL.
Dane Brugler of CBS Sports told me Perryman is among his top five senior linebackers for 2015. Brugler continued:
He has a shorter stature but is thickly put together with a stout build. He's a heavy, violent striker with excellent take-on strength to quickly engage and shed. Displays accurate reads and uses his disciplined eyes to mirror the ball at the line of scrimmage. Love his motor, never takes plays off and shows leadership traits. Smart, with a passion for the game and the coaches rave about his football knowledge and effort on and off the field.
Where Perryman Stands in the Draft
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller touts Perryman as the No. 1 draft-eligible inside linebacker and gives him the edge in three aspects of the position, including most NFL-ready.
"He's my top inside linebacker, but not a top-32 player," Miller said. "Really agile, lateral movement. Instincts are a plus versus the run. A bit light in his legs and rear, but as far as athletic middle linebackers go, he's up there. Size will get questioned."
The writers of early mock drafts will more than likely tell you the same thing: Don't read too much into them. They serve as a starting point that is certain to change over the next 12 months.
However, the mocks give a first look at some of the top names heading into 2014, and Perryman is included in most outlets.
Had Perryman been a member of the 2014 draft, where would he have been chosen?
Brugler lists Perryman as getting selected at the end of the first round, while he just misses the opening day, according to CBS Sports' Pete Prisco. On the other hand, Kipp Adams of 247Sports has the linebacker dropping further, being taken 58th overall.
Regardless, Perryman rests among the top prospects at his position, which is a comforting sign as of now. Of course, Seantrel Henderson and Stephen Morris were once in the same spot, but Perryman has a better body of work than both players.
Whereas Henderson was highly regarded—albeit solely on unreached All-American potential—and Morris unleashed a scorching finish to the 2012 season, Perryman has had respectable stretches of production each year.
If he continues to showcase his excellent sideline-to-sideline speed, ability to shed blocks and dependability in pass coverage, Perryman will solidify his value as an early-round pick in the 2015 NFL draft, perhaps even as a first-day selection.
Unless otherwise noted, quotes obtained firsthand. Stats and awards courtesy of hurricanesports.com.
Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.