Orlando Franklin could be first Miami Hurricane taken in NFL draft's first round

CORAL GABLES — For the first time in three years, the University of Miami is expected to have a player taken in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Most of the speculation has centered around cornerback Brandon Harris and receiver Leonard Hankerson. But some draft analysts think the first UM player to be picked could be Orlando Franklin, the massive Hurricanes' offensive lineman by way of Atlantic High.

"He's very raw, but athletically there are not many guys like him that are playing left tackle in this year's draft," said Russ Lande, a former Cleveland Browns' scout now serving as The Sporting News' draft analyst. "You just don't find guys his size that can move their feet like he does. It's impossible."

ESPN.com's Todd McShay recently projected the 6-foot-6, 316-pound Franklin to be selected by Pittsburgh with the 31st overall pick, although he has since pushed him down to the second round.

"I'm just happy that I'm getting an opportunity to be drafted," said Franklin last month after participating in UM's Pro Day. "Growing up in Toronto, Canada, I never thought I'd be in the position that I'm in."

Franklin, a native Jamaican, moved to Palm Beach County from Canada as a high school senior. In one season at Atlantic, he established himself as a hot football prospect and signed with Miami.

Unable to meet UM's admission standards out of high school, Franklin sat out 2006 before finally enrolling at UM in the summer of 2007.

He played in 51 games and made 39 starts as a collegian, splitting his time between guard and tackle. He was so impressive during a 2007 game against Virginia star defensive lineman Chris Long, the NFL's No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 draft, that Long wrote this message on Franklin's Facebook page: "You're going to be a real good player. Just keeping having fun and I'll see you on the next level."

That time has come.

"I've always liked Franklin," McShay said. "Whether it's inside at guard or at tackle, over time I think he's going to become a good starting offensive lineman in the league."

Franklin had arthroscopic knee surgery on Jan. 3, but recovered in time to stand out at the NFL Scouting Combine in March.

The biggest question is whether he will remain at tackle, where he played as a senior, or shift back to guard, the position he played during his first three years at UM.

"I really don't have a preference, but if you ask me what position I'm most comfortable, I'm definitely more comfortable at guard because I played it for three years," Franklin said.

The Hurricanes could have as many as eight players selected in the draft (Thursday through Saturday), which would be the most produced by the school since 2006 when nine were drafted.

In his latest mock draft, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has six Hurricanes going in the first 86 picks, although none are projected to be chosen in the first round.

DeMarcus Van Dyke, a cornerback who was a backup as a senior, has seen his stock rise dramatically since running 40 yards in 4.28 seconds at the combine. That clocking was the third fastest at the combine since 2000.

Potential Hurricanes in the NFL Draft
Eight Miami players are projected to be drafted. Listed by name, position, height, weight and is which rounds they're likely to be taken:
Brandon Harris, CB, 5-foot-10, 191 pounds - Rounds 1-2
Leonard Hankerson, WR, 6-2, 209 - Rounds 1-2
Orlando Franklin, OL, 6-6, 316, Rounds 1-2
DeMarcus Van Dyke, CB, 6-1, 176 - Rounds 2-3
Allen Bailey, DL, 6-3, 285 - Rounds 2-3
Colin McCarthy, LB, 6-1, 238 - Rounds 3-4
Graig Cooper, RB, 5-10, 205 - Rounds 6-7
Damien Berry, RB, 5-10, 211 - Rounds 6-7

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