There are few college football programs in the country that are as polarizing as the University of Miami. Over the years, they've been the subjects of ridicule and praise alike, with their showy antics making for a great sideshow to some of the greatest NCAA football teams of all-time. That same impact has been felt on the NFL ranks as well. Some of the most marquee players of their era have been former Hurricanes, including Ed Reed and Michael Irvin. Along with their successes however, Miami has seen some major NFL busts, just like every major college football program has. The good has far outweighed the bad, but there are certainly representatives from both ends of the spectrum.
That remains true in the present-day landscape of the NFL. We can observe former Hurricanes in the league that have gone on to be top ten players at their position, and those who are barely hanging onto a roster. Regardless of the results of the individual players, Miami has proven itself to be an elite college program, but it's still interesting to see which of their alumni is able to cut the mustard in the pros, and which ones fall flat. Let's take a look at that.
Ranked below are the eight best, and seven worst former Miami Hurricanes currently in the NFL.
15 Allen Hurns (Best)
While it hasn't been a steady stream of production for Hurns since he entered the NFL in 2014, he's shown enough flashes of brilliance that indicates he's still a very good receiver in the pros. His time with the Jaguars is very similar to what he did for the Hurricanes, which included one stellar season, and a few seasons of questionable output. Still, if he's given enough targets, Hurns has proven that he can effective. There's a decent chance that he hits the free agent market after the 2017 season, and plenty of teams will be gunning for him. There's a ton of upside for a relatively cheap price. Probably the best pure wide receiver out of Miami in the league right now.
14 Ereck Flowers (Worst)
Two years into the NFL after being drafted ninth overall by the Giants, and Flowers hasn't lived up to the hype, being ranked in the bottom third of the league at the offensive tackle position. It was an important role he was supposed to assume, and now the Giants are left with a decision whether to move him to another team, keep him at tackle, or move him to another position. There's no surefire answer, but if Flowers doesn't improve in 2017, he'll be one of the biggest offensive line busts in recent memory. His production would be suitable for a fourth round selection, but hardly one in the top-ten. While his play at Miami signaled that he would be a quality NFL starter, the evidence has proved otherwise, and this is looking like a whiff for the Giants overall.
13 Olivier Vernon (Best)
On the other hand, Vernon is a player that has worked out for the Giants. A high-profile free agent signing coming off a stint with the Dolphins, he produced mightily in his first season in New York, solidifying himself as one of the league's most durable pass rushers. He's squarely in the prime of his career, and should keep wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks for the forseeable future. He received a massive contract from the Giants that was criticized at the time of the 2016 offseason, but he's lived up to it. Vernon turned out to be great NFL player out of Miami, especially considering he was a third round pick, which is far from a sure thing. As it turned out, he's probably the best Hurricane pass rusher that is in the league right now.
12 Clive Walford (Worst)
It's hard to rip on Walford too much, given that he was just a third round pick, but for a starting tight end, he's definitely not in the upper echelon of NFL players at that position. He's going into his third season in 2017, and if it's anything like his first two, his production will be middling at best, and completely anonymous at worst. Granted, the Raiders offense featured a ton of weapons, and doesn't really run through their tight ends, but Walford still hasn't done anything to stand out and impress. He'll probably stick in the league for the foreseeable future, but he'll never be a game-changing player that defenses will have to account for.
Consider Walford a disappointment. He was a good player with the Hurricanes, but in the pro ranks he leaves a lot to be desired.
11 Duke Johnson (Best)
Johnson has had the misfortune of playing on a terrible team for his first two seasons in the league, but he's proven himself to be an asset all the same. He's a pretty good runner, but a great pass-catcher out of the backfield. He's the kind of gadget player that can significantly aid an NFL offense in this day and age, and even though the Browns are a bad team, Johnson does give them some versatility on their offense. We should also note that his 2014 season at Miami was one of the best in school history for a running back.
While he's made his mark in the NFL in the passing game instead, he's making his worth known at the pro level, and at a great value to boot as a third round pick. Keep an eye on Johnson in the upcoming few seasons, as his skill set could be highly sought after if and when he hits the free agent market.
10 Stephen Morris (Worst)
The Hurricanes quarterback for the '12 and '13 seasons, Morris hasn't caught on as a starter since going undrafted in 2014, and is only bouncing around to several practice squads, on the fringes of active rosters. Currently he's on the Colts, which is a dead end situation as long as Andrew Luck is still healthy. Still, Morris is in the league, and if he lands on a team with a bad enough quarterback situation (49ers and Bears come to mind) then he may end up getting his chance sooner rather than later. He produced fairly well when he was at Miami, and has a big arm that could make some plays if called upon. It's unlikely that he ever becomes a consistent starter for the next ten years, but he could be serviceable in the right situation. Right now however, that's just hypothetical, and Morris definitely hasn't worked out thus far in the NFL.
9 Calais Campbell (Best)
Campbell served nine great seasons for the Cardinals, and has just recently been signed by the Jaguars as a part of their usual offseason overhaul. There's no question that he's still a productive defensive tackle, and has suffered little drop-off, despite the fact that he'll be 31 years old when the 2017 starts. As an overall defensive lineman, he's among the best that have come out of Miami in a long time, and contributes in all facets of the game. He was a prolific pass rusher in college, and in the NFL has expanded his game to be a three-down player. He's lived up to his second round draft selection without a doubt. There's a good chance that we could still see a few more years of peak production out of him. Campbell is still one of the best players at his position in the league, and one of the best former Hurricanes presently in the NFL.
8 LaDarius Gunter (Worst)
The Packers' cornerbacks have been shaky the past few seasons, and Gunter has done little to improve that standing when he saw significant playing time in the 2016 season. He was hardly a reliable player, and while he'd have the occasional flash of a good play, it wasn't enough to make anyone bullish on his future with the team. He's now going into his third season in the league, and it's a make-or-break one for Gunter's career. He was pretty good at Miami, but as an undrafted player, he clearly wasn't considered to have the skill set necessary to make it in the NFL. Luckily for him, the Packers secondary isn't getting any better, and he'll at least be on the roster, and likely be in a position to start going into the 2017 season. Still, it's best to consider him a longshot, given his inconsistent play the past couple of years.
7 Frank Gore (Best)
Over the years, Gore has proven that he's a tank of a running back, and has only slowed down marginally last season, when he was the starting rusher for the Colts at the age of 33. He may not be as a dynamic as he was when he was younger, but he still proved that he could produce, notching another 1,000 yard season to his name. It's unknown how much he'll be used in Indy going into 2017, but Gore is and has been too much of a phenomenal player for him not to be on this ranking. He played just a single year at Miami, and it was enough to slot him as a third round pick in 2005. Since then, he's proven himself as one of the best former Hurricanes to ever put on an NFL uniform. It's simply amazing that he's still going strong 12 years later, at one of the most physical positions in the sport.
6 Phillip Dorsett (Worst)
On the contrary, the Colts have missed on Dorsett as a first round pick. His production hasn't been anywhere close that was expected of him as a wide receiver paired with Andrew Luck throwing him the ball, and he's now playing for his career heading into his third season. Dorsett has plenty of speed, there's no question about that, but he lacks the strength to beat press coverage. Even with a high-quality quarterback in Luck, he just hasn't been able to get on target. He was considered a burner coming into the 2015 draft. While that turned out to be true, it's also been shown that Dorsett doesn't have the skill set to play in the NFL on a consistent basis as a starter. No question, he's been a bust, and it's unlikely at this point he'll be able to turn it around.
5 Jimmy Graham (Best)
Everyone knows that Graham's numbers have dipped in recent seasons as compared to his time with the Saints, but that doesn't change the fact that he's still one of the best receiving tight ends in the game today. He'll have another good season with the Seahawks, and do little to hurt his overall standing in the league. With his unique skill set as a tight end, Graham is still one of the best former Hurricanes in the league today. Considering the scope of his entire career, he's gone above and beyond the expectations levied upon his as a third round pick, and he became one of the most popular players of his era. Graham still has some gas left in the tank, but even if he retired tomorrow, he'd still be one of the best players to come out of Miami in the past 15 years.
4 Deon Bush (Worst)
Chicago's secondary was nothing less than pitiful last season, and Bush certainly didn't do anything to improve it. It was only his rookie season, but he gave little reason to expect that he won't be out of the league in a few short years. He was a fourth round pick, and while it wouldn't seem like he would be expected to be an immediate contributor, that didn't stop him from playing in 11 games for the Bears last season. He was certainly a productive player with the Hurricanes, but that hasn't translated into the pros, and there's a good chance that it never will. He's not helped by the fact that the Bears have bad personnel in their secondary, but he's also not doing anything to change that.
3 Lamar Miller (Best)
Millershas overachieved as a fourth round pick, and now is in the upper-tier of running backs in the NFL. After four years with the Dolphins, Miller had a solid first season with the Texans, and he figures to be their featured back for the next few years at least. He'll only be 26-years-old when the 2017 season starts, so he's arguably not even at his peak production level yet. Miller is most notably a model for consistency. He was a really good player for the Hurricanes, and a really good player in the pro ranks currently. He's not the most dynamic runner, but always finds a way to get his yards, which is ultimately the most important thing for a player at his position. He'll be a prime player for the next few seasons, and is the best running back at the moment, to come out of Miami.
2 Travis Benjamin (Worst)
When he was with the Browns early in his career, Benjamin was considered to be an enigma by many. He would show flashes of brilliance as a receiver, including one very good season in 2015. He signed with the Chargers as a free agent, and got a hefty sum of money for a player who hadn't proven themselves over the course of a full season. Even with a great quarterback in Philip Rivers throwing him the ball, Benjamin never really found his niche in their offense, and now remains a major question mark for the 2017 season in terms of his targets and production. As a fourth round pick, you could argue that Benjamin has lived up to his draft position, but considering how bullish so many people were on him after the 2015 season, his output so far with the Chargers has to be considered a disappointment.
1 Greg Olsen (Best)
Olsen has had a long, durable and productive career with both Chicago and Carolina. While he's only been racking up his 1,000 yard receiving seasons in recent years with the Panthers and Cam Newton, he was always a red zone threat, capable of finding the end zone. Olsen is a complete tight end, and right now probably the best player in the league to come out of Miami. Moreover, he was a first round pick and actually lived up to the billing, which hasn't usually been the case for tight ends in recent memory. Currently in his early-30s, it would be expected that Olsen will be slowing down his production soon, but there hasn't been any evidence of regression, so he may get a few more years of stellar numbers to his name. Either way, he's one of the best players at his position in the past decade, and probably the best player on the Panthers offense.
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