Connecticut Huskies linebacker Yawin Smallwood is one of the top inside linebacker prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft class, and there are some who believe he is the second-best ILB behind A.J. Johnson of the Tennessee Volunteers. The top three is usually some order of Stanford’s Shayne Skov, Johnson, and Smallwood, and I am quite high on Smallwood as a prospect. There are others who are quite down on him, and it’s perfectly fine to have Florida State standout Christian Jones ranked above the standout from UConn.
Reliable draft insider Tony Pauline reported on Friday that Yawin Smallwood was “heavily leaning” towards declaring for the draft, and he said that this information didn’t surprise him in the least. Smallwood has always been expected to declare for the draft this year, and UConn Football’s official Twitter account announced that Smallwood has indeed decided to declare for the draft.
He had a very nice game yesterday with seven tackles and two sacks in a 45-10 blowout win over Memphis, and it’s fitting that he chose to declare following that performance. Smallwood has been inconsistent this season, but he’s had some monster games and clearly has a great deal of upside. He has all the tools to be a great linebacker in the pros, and there was really no need for him to stay another year with the Huskies.
But due to concerns over consistency (among other things), expect Smallwood to be selected in the third round of the draft. The team getting him will be getting a very talented LB who recorded 118 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, and eight passes defended.