When the 2017 NFL Draft reached its conclusion, it marked the first time in 34 years the event did not include a Virginia player being chosen.
While the cast of Cavaliers prospects is somewhat lacking this year, it is likely that a UVa player will come off the board sooner rather than later.
Heading that list is Bryce Hall, whose recovery from surgery for a broken fibula and dislocated ankle is a reflection of the hard work that made him one of the elite cornerbacks in college football.
In a mock draft posted Wednesday, CBS Sports had him going to Chicago with the 18th pick in the second round and the 50th overall.
“Hall is coming off an injury but is a first-round caliber talent when healthy” was the comment accompanying the prediction.
Clearly, not everybody got a chance to see Hall, a cornerback who made first-team All-ACC in 2018. He missed the last 6 ½ games after being wheeled off the field at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.
“If he’s able to come back from that, he could become a real star,” said Roddy Jones, a former Georgia Tech player who does commentary for ESPN and the ACC Network.
Hall is listed at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds by ESPN.
“He’s physical in the run game.” Jones said. “He’s got great ball skills. When the ball goes up in the air, you see the basketball skills that he has come out.
“He’s also an incredibly intelligent player, as [UVa coach] Bronco Mendenhall has said over and over. He’s also a guy who plays all four special teams. When you can do all those things, it makes you a really valuable piece.”
Other draft prospects from Virginia include linebacker Jordan Mack, described by NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein as “a bright linebacker with good instincts and production as a four-year starter.”
The big mystery is what will happen with record-breaking Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins, younger brother of Paul Perkins, a former running back at UCLA who was selected in the fifth round of the 2016 draft by the Giants.
Unlike his brother, Bryce Perkins was not invited to the NFL combine despite passing for 3,538 yards and 22 touchdowns this year. He also ran for 769 yards (1,046 yards before losses) and 11 touchdowns.
Ex-NFL cornerback Bucky Brooks, who writes about the draft for Sports Illustrated, said that Perkins (6 foot 3, 215 pounds) is the sleeper among quarterback hopefuls.
“Bryce Perkins is one of these new-school quarterbacks that we’re seeing make their way into the National Football League,” he was quoted by 247Sports.
“He’s an athletic, dual-threat playmaker, is good enough as a passer but he has versatility and some athleticism that I think creative offensive coordinators may want to tap into.”
The last UVa quarterback to be drafted was Matt Schaub in the third round by the Atlanta Falcons in 2004. All he’s done is remain in the league for 16 seasons, throwing three touchdown passes this past season in his second stint with the Falcons.
Hoping to receive at least a free-agent offer is fifth-year senior Eli Hanback, a 6-foot-4, 300-pound defensive tackle who is best known at UVa for recovering a fumble for a touchdown against Virginia Tech.
“Scoring that touchdown against Virginia Tech is a feeling that I don’t believe I’ve ever felt before in my life,” he said in a teleconference last week. “Getting drafted, on the other hand, would also be a dream come true and something that very few people get to experience.”