FAU Football: Prospects for the ‘15 NFL Draft


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Former Florida Atlantic Owls Keith Reaser and Randell Johnson were taken in the later rounds of this year’s NFL Draft (May 8-10). It’s never too early to look ahead to next year’s class of hopefuls.

Leading the way is cornerback D’Joun “DJ” Smith. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Smith was named to the All-Conference USA after his recent most (junior) season, where he was second in the nation in both passes defended (20) and interceptions (7).

Smith’s coverage and ball skills are impressive. The senior cornerback is a three-year starter from American High School in Miami — the same school that produced Miami Dolphin defensive end Olivier Vernon. Smith has a chance to join him in the NFL with a good senior season.

Another draft hopeful is 6-foot-4, 190-pound senior wide receiver William Dukes. Dukes has started for the past three seasons and he has led the Owls in receiving for the past two years. This past year, he finished eighth in Conference USA with six touchdowns.

Dukes does not have blazing speed, but he does have a wide catching radius, long arms and sure hands. He has the potential to be a solid possession receiver in due time.

A criminal justice major, Dukes comes from Fort Lauderdale’s Dillard High School. DHS has a history of producing NFL players, most recently defensive tackle Pat Sims of the Oakland Raiders. With a productive season, he might sneak into the later rounds of the NFL draft.

Braden Lyons is making the move from tackle to center this season with the departure of Mustafa Johnson. Lyons is expected to lead the offensive line this season.

Even though he does not have any experience at center, he is on the Rimington Award Watch List. The Rimington is a postseason award for the best center in college football.

Before coming to FAU, Lyons played for City College of San Francisco’s Division II team. He, like his predecessor Johnson, is a California native (Sonoma Valley).

Lyons is very athletic and has a massive 6-foot-5, 295-pound frame. His versatility is his biggest strength — he can be moved to any position on the offensive line. With him at offensive tackle, the Owls broke several rushing records last season.

He also seems to be an intelligent player off the field, earning a 3.0 GPA as a sociology major.

Last, but certainly not least, is 6-foot-2, 225-pound middle linebacker Andrae Kirk. A senior who comes from the football powerhouse of Miami Central High School, Kirk is a sure tackler who plays with great instincts.

He was 12th in solo tackles in Conference USA last season with 84. He will have to add strength and size to his frame, but he seems to have a nose for the ball. At times, he can be over aggressive and run himself out of the appropriate position.

The second team All-Conference USA selection is expected to have another solid season, and if he does, he may find his way onto an NFL roster come next spring.
Josue Simplice is contributor for the University Press. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twiter @josuesimplice.