Hokies poised to play at next level await 2017 NFL Draft

PHILADELPHIA – The 2017 NFL Draft officially kicks off at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday from Philadelphia City Hall with the first round. The process will continue through Saturday, as the 32 NFL teams will combine to select 253 players in seven rounds. Cleveland holds the No. 1 overall selection, with Denver owning the 253rd and final selection known as Mr. Irrelevant.

2017 NFL Draft

Round 1: Thursday, April 27, 8 p.m. ET
Rounds 2-3: Friday, April 28, 7 p.m. ET
Rounds 4-7: Saturday, April 29, noon ET

Virginia Tech NFL Draft History


NFL Draft Tracker


For those players not drafted, they still have an opportunity to get an invitation to an NFL roster as a rookie free agent. On Monday, we’ll provide a complete NFL Draft recap along with updates on any players who have signed as free agents or who are scheduled for tryouts at upcoming rookie camps. For up-to-the-minute coverage, stay tuned to @VT_Football on Twitter.

Here’s a look at a number of Hokies who have been projected as potential draftees or NFL signees for 2017:

DT Woody Baron

Called “the best developmental interior defensive lineman in the draft” by Pro Football Focus, Baron enjoyed an exceptionally productive senior season. The Hokies ranked fourth among Power Five squads in 2016 with 113.0 tackles for loss thanks to Baron, who tied with linebacker Tremaine Edmunds for the team lead with 18.5 tackles for a loss. In 52 career games (21 starts) for the Hokies, the Nashville native registered 27.5 tackles for a loss and 9.0 sacks, with 5.5 of those sacks coming last season when he also produced a career-best 56 tackles (37 solo). Baron was an All-ACC first-team selection by The Associated Press in 2016.

Projection: FOX Sports slated Baron as a seventh-round selection by Kansas City. Likely late-round pick or free agent signee.

Click here for video via The ACC Digital Network

S Chuck Clark

The Suffolk, Virginia native played in 52 games (40 starts) at Virginia Tech and was part of the first class in school history to register three consecutive bowl victories. He accumulated 296 tackles (173 solo), 2.5 sacks, 14.0 tackles for loss, 23 passes defensed, 21 pass breakups and two interceptions, including a game-clinching pick against Virginia in 2015. An ACC first-team selection by Pro Football Focus in 2016, Clark also registered a 20-yard fumble return for a touchdown at Purdue in 2015. Clark was named to the All-ACC Academic Football Team as both a junior and a senior.

Projection: FOX Sports has Clark going to Oakland in the sixth round, while Bleacher Report has him going to Green Bay in the same round. Likely late-round pick or free agent signee.

Click here for video via The ACC Digital Network

DE Ken Ekanem

A three-year starter for the Hokies, Ekanem played in 50 games (39 starts) for the Hokies, accumulating 131 tackles (65 solo), 21.5 sacks, 34.0 tackles for loss, 36 quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles, six pass breakups and six passes defensed. An honorable mention All-ACC selection in 2016, Ekanem earned ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week honors registering five tackles, two sacks and a quarterback hurry in a 54-17 win against East Carolina. He also combined with Tremaine Edmunds for a sack in the end zone that resulted in a safety. The Centreville, Virginia native previously earned ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week honors in 2014.

Projection: Likely rookie free agent signee.

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QB Jerod Evans

During his one season in Blacksburg, Evans re-wrote the Virginia Tech record book for quarterbacks, setting eight single-season records in 2016. Those marks included touchdown passes (29), passing yards (3,546), total offense (4,392), completions (268) and rushing yards by a quarterback (846). Named the ACC Newcomer of the Year by both The Associated Press and Athlon Sports, he registered a season-high 406 passing yards in a 39-36 win at Pitt and ran for a season-best 98 yards in a 37-16 victory against Miami. He compiled a 153.0 passer rating on the season and completed 63.5 percent of his passes, the second-best seasonal mark in Hokies’ history.

Projection: Bleacher Report projects Evans going to the L.A. Rams in the sixth round or Dallas in the seventh round. Likely late-round pick or free agent signee.

Click here for video via The ACC Digital Network

WR Isaiah Ford

A consensus All-ACC second-team selection, Ford is the only player in ACC annals to hold sole possession of his school’s career marks for receptions (210), receiving yards (2,967) and receiving touchdowns (24). That feat is even more remarkable when you consider he did it in only three seasons at Virginia Tech. He posted a school-record 79 catches for 1,094 yards with seven touchdowns in 2016 after registering 75 catches for a school-best 1,164 yards with 11 touchdowns in 2015. He is the only player in school history to register a 1,000-yard receiving season.

Projection: Three different mock drafts all have him going in the fifth round. ESPN’s Mel Kiper says that Ford could go anywhere from the fourth to the sixth round.

Click here for video via The ACC Digital Network

TE Bucky Hodges

Hodges earned his degree in December after a stellar three-year playing career for the Hokies. His 133 career receptions, 1,747 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns are the best totals by any tight end in Virginia Tech history. The

Virginia Beach, Virginia native was a consensus third-team All-ACC selection after setting personal bests with 48 catches for 691 yards in 2016, while tying a seasonal high with seven touchdown catches. He produced a pair of 100-yard receiving games during his time in Blacksburg, including a career-best 145-yard effort at Pitt in 2016. He registered four career multiple-touchdown games, hauling in a career-high three touchdowns against Duke in 2015.

Projection: The consensus choice to be the first Virginia Tech player off the board, most likely in the third round according to Bleacher Report (Cleveland) and NFL.com (Denver). Other potential landing spots mentioned in the media for Hodges have included the N.Y. Giants, Indianapolis, Tennessee and Houston.

Click here for video via The ACC Digital Network

T Jon McLaughlin

Offensive tackle started all 49 games that he played in at Virginia Tech and was part of a senior class that won three consecutive bowl games. A consensus All-ACC third-team selection following his senior campaign, he also competed in the East-West Shrine Game. The Maudlin, South Carolina native anchored the right side of Tech’s offensive line, helping the Hokies tie or break 10 single-season offensive records as a senior in 2016.

Projection: NFL.com is the only mock draft that includes McLaughlin, sending him to Green Bay in the seventh round. Likely late-round pick or free agent signee.

RB Sam Rogers

Rogers represented the Hokies in the Senior Bowl and earned first-team All-ACC and second-team All-America honors from Pro Football Focus. The former walk-on played in 53 games (25 starts) for the Hokies. A versatile performer on offense and special teams, the Mechanicsville, Virginia native finished his career with 165 carries for 692 yards (4.2 avg.) with four touchdowns. He also hauled in 72 receptions for 802 yards and seven scores during his career. He has also completed three of four passes, including a 13-yard touchdown pass to Steven Peoples against Miami in 2016. The Hanover High School product also registered a career-high 72 receiving yards in that contest against the Hurricanes. He earned a spot on the All-ACC Academic Team as a senior.

Projection: The versatility of Rogers and his ability to play on special teams are appealing. CBS Sports (Baltimore) and NFL.com (Atlanta) have pegged Rogers as a fifth-round, while FOX Sports has him going in round six to the N.Y. Jets and Bleacher Report has him going in the same round to Jacksonville.

Click here for video via The ACC Digital Network

– VT –

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