Seven Hokies could be selected in 2012 NFL draft

When former Virginia Tech cornerback Jayron Hosley visits NFL teams, the meetings inevitably include some film study. Team personnel have introduced him to their schemes and critiqued Hosley’s strengths and weaknesses.

He receives praise for his aggressive, ball hawking style, his instincts and his ability to change direction quickly and smoothly. But his size is a problem--Hosley is just 5-10 and 178 pounds--and his footwork can sometimes be a little sloppy.

It isn’t anything Hosley, a film junkie, hasn’t noticed before. And yet the meetings have provided the Delray Beach, Fla. native some perspective as he awaits this week’s NFL draft.

“This experience definitely humbles you,” Hosley said last week from South Florida, where he will watch the draft with his family. “Some guys don’t like to admit it, but they talk about the bad stuff. It’s all a part of growing and getting better. You where you’re at now and try to get better in the future.”

There are seven Virginia Tech players who could be selected in the 2012 NFL draft, and Hosley is one of three who are nearly certain to be chosen. But to NFL scouts, he also presents a conundrum.

Hosley declared for the draft immediately after the Hokies’ Sugar Bowl loss to Michigan in January, foregoing his senior year even though he watched his stock slip as he battled hamstring injuries during his junior year. He finished with a career-high 59 tackles and three interceptions, but struggled more in pass coverage than he had previously.

In 2010 Hosley led the nation with nine interceptions, showing off the preternatural skills that have made Virginia Tech defensive backs hot commodities in recent years. The Hokies have had at least one member of their secondary chosen every year in the NFL draft since 1998, including Pro Bowlers such as Washington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall, Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor and Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers, another Delray Beach native who was the first to tell Coach Frank Beamer about Hosley during the recruiting process.

Based on that tradition and his prolific sophomore season, Hosley started last season as a possible first-round draft pick. He’s now projected to go on the second day of the draft, in the second or third round.

Hosley, who grew up in a single-parent household with five siblings, said part of the reason he declared early for the draft was to support his family. But he also conceded that motivation was becoming an issue for him, because he “felt like the college game was getting easy for me and I wanted a challenge.”

That has made the evaluation process more difficult for NFL scouts, because Hosley didn’t show that on film this past season.

“I loved him a couple years ago when he was making all those plays, all those interceptions,” ESPN NFL draft expert Mel Kiper, Jr. said last week. “This year, he looked like, to me, something was just missing with his game. He was beaten. The awareness, the instincts at his position, you didn’t see that like you did two years ago.”

Former Virginia Tech running back David Wilson also has seen his stock drop since he left school a year early to enter the draft. The ACC player of the year will likely be a second- or third-round choice. He could be the fourth tailback selected behind Alabama’s Trent Richardson, Miami’s Lamar Miller and Boise State’s Doug Martin because of fumbling problems and concerns about his field vision.

Wide receiver Danny Coale (Episcopal High) doubled as a special teams standout at Virginia Tech, versatility that should get him selected on the third day of the draft. Record-setting wideout Jarrett Boykin, ACC offensive lineman of the year Blake DeChristopher, guard Jaymes Brooks and safety Eddie Whitley also are potential draft picks, but there’s a good chance all four will have to sign as undrafted free agents.

Though Hosley enjoys more certainty about selection than some of his teammates, he seems to understand the results of this week’s draft guarantee little.

“You want to get drafted in the first round. What guy wouldn’t?” he said. “But I’m not too concerned with being a first-round draft pick because I feel like once you get drafted and you go into camp, everybody is on the same stage.”

 
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