ESPN Mock Draft Dubs Madubuike a First-Round Talent

Cole Thompson

COLLEGE STATION — The NFL Draft will be the subject of conversation for the next several months. As team's prep for the NFL Combines, players will better decipher where they fit among their draft grades after a trip to Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium.

Texas A&M's Justin Madubuike will be one of the many players looking for a solidified status. After a productive final season in College Station, the junior defensive tackle declared for the NFL, foregoing the team's Texas Bowl victory to better prepare for the combine. Multiple scouts have dubbed the 327-pounder a top 50 player and likely to be taken somewhere in the middle of the second round.

One NFL Draft outcome could have the former Aggie hearing his name called early. And with a strong combine in the home of the Colts, others could follow soon.

In his latest mock draft, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. believes that Madubuike will be a first-round selection, having him be selected by the Seattle Seahawks 27th overall. Kiper, one of the more well-respected draft analysts in the business, believes a strong combine performance will be the difference maker from the former Aggie going on the first or second day in Las Vegas later this year.

Get to know Madubuike's name, because I expect him to rise at the combine. The 6-3, 305-pound defensive tackle put up stellar numbers as an interior penetrator for the Aggies the past two seasons, racking up 11 sacks and 22 total tackles for loss. He wreaked havoc on SEC offensive linemen. Seattle could see huge turnover along its defensive line with Jadeveon Clowney, Ezekiel Ansah, Jarran Reed, Quinton Jefferson and Al Woods all free agents, so Madubuike would help it reload after a down season in which the Seahawks had just 28 sacks. They have an extra second-round pick to help them restock.

Kiper is the second outlet since Madubuike declaring to grant him a first-round grade, following CBS Sports' Ryan Wilson. Both minds could be onto something as Wilson also believes that the former 12th Man will go to the home of the NFL 12th Man in April's draft.

Madubuike's success came against the run in Mike Elko's base 4-2-5 defensive front. Tallying 42 total tackles, the junior met runners behind the line of scrimmage 11.5 times during his final season at Kyle Field. Madubuike also led the team with 5.5 sacks on the year while collecting his first interception and forcing a fumble.

The NFL combine will be held from Feb.27-Mar.1 at Lucas Oil Stadium. Four former Aggies were invited by the league to participate.