After two years in a row with no players selected, Colorado finally got to be a part of an NFL draft, with four Buffaloes picked last weekend.
It's very early, but expect the Buffs to be a part of the 2018 draft, too.
Plenty will change between now and April when the next draft rolls around. In fact, CU was barely on the draft radar a year ago, but a 10-4 season helped several Buffs go from invisible to draft-worthy in the minds of scouts.
Taking into consideration the changes that could happen, let's look at CU's top draft candidates for 2018. This list includes mainly seniors, but also a couple of juniors who could declare early with a great season. This list is in order of draft potential (purely opinion and speculation at this point, of course):
1. CB Isaiah Oliver (6-1, 190): He's only a junior this year, but if he leaves early (very possible with a great season), he's got first-round ability. A sensational athlete in track and field, as well, Oliver figures to be one of the elite corners in the Pac-12 this year. Elite Pac-12 corners tend to get noticed by the NFL (six Pac-12 corners were taken among the first 81 picks last weekend).
2. OG Jeromy Irwin (6-5, 300): There's always a need for quality offensive linemen, and Irwin is one of the best in the Pac-12. He's been a tackle for the Buffs and could wind up playing guard and tackle this season. In the NFL, though, he's most likely a guard. With a great senior year, Irwin will put himself in great position for the draft.
3. S Afolabi Laguda (6-1, 205): A year ago, cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon made the jump from inconsistent junior to elite senior, becoming one of the top corners in the country and going in the third round of the draft. Laguda could be this year's Witherspoon. Less consistent than his secondary mates last year, Laguda has the physical tools and desire to be great this season. If he can make a Witherspoon-type jump in his game, he'll get the call from the NFL.
4. RB Phillip Lindsay (5-8, 190): Lindsay's size could work against him, but a handful of small backs were selected this year, including Cal's Khalfani Muhammad (5-9, 175), who wasn't nearly as effective as Lindsay. He rushed for 1,252 yards and 16 TD last season, while catching 53 passes. During his career, he has also returned kicks. Lindsay's toughness, passion and personality could impress scouts, too.
5. WR Shay Fields (5-11, 185): The Buffs have four talented senior receivers, but in the eyes of the NFL, it could be Fields who stands out. During his career at CU, he has displayed sure hands and elite big-play ability. Put together another great year, and then post a 40-yard dash time in the 4.4-second range and Fields will be in a great spot.
5. WR Bryce Bobo (6-2, 200): Given his size and production after the catch, Bobo could actually be a better NFL prospect than Fields. It would be nice to see him put together a highly productive and healthy season. If healthy, he's also sure to impress scouts in workouts.
6. OLB Derek McCartney (6-3, 250): A great season could really vault McCartney up the list. He missed the majority of last season with a torn ACL and needs to prove he's healthy first. Then, he needs to step up as a playmaker. He's had 9.5 sacks in his career, but may need to display better pass-rush production to get into the draft.
Others to keep an eye on (alphabetical order):
WR Kabion Ento (6-3, 180): Among CU's talented receiver group, Ento may have a hard time showcasing his skills. He's a talented player with great athleticism and height, but likely needs to put on some weight to get a shot at the next level.
TE George Frazier (6-2, 280): Surely a long shot at this point, but his versatility - he can play fullback and defensive tackle - could lead to a team giving him a shot, if not through the draft then as an undrafted free agent.
DL Leo Jackson III (6-3, 280): He's undersized for a 3-4 defensive lineman in the NFL, but could find a place in a 4-3 scheme. Jackson has to have a great senior year, though.
S Ryan Moeller (6-1, 215): He's been a very good player for CU and is sure to impress scouts in workouts and interviews. Unless he takes a significant jump, though, he's likely an undrafted free agent.
WR Devin Ross (5-11, 185): He was CU's leading receiver last year, but it takes more than production to get drafted by the NFL (see Nelson Spruce and Gabe Marks). There are always a bunch of talented receivers in the draft, and it takes something special to stand out.
WR Juwann Winfree (6-3, 205): He's a junior and sat out last season with a torn ACL, but some thought he was CU's best receiver before the injury. If he is that good, he's got the size and athleticism to get noticed and potentially declare early.