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Published: March 17, 2014 at 04:15 p.m.
Updated: March 17, 2014 at 04:35 p.m.

Projecting NCAA hoopsters to NFL

South Carolina wide receiver Bruce Ellington is considered a mid-round prospect in the 2014 NFL Draft because of his potential as a playmaker, especially in space. But at one time Ellington was considered a better basketball player than football player. Still, there's not a lot of opportunity for a 5-foot-9 guard in the NBA, so he gave up basketball early in the season to concentrate on football.

When you watch the NCAA tournament have an open mind and project some of the guys you see on the court onto the gridiron. Trust us: There will be a lot of players who will pique your interest as potential NFLers. Here are 10 who have piqued the interest of College Football 24/7 (and by no means is this an all-inclusive list).

10 Photos Total

  • Jahii Carson, G, Arizona State 10

    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    Jahii Carson, G, Arizona State

    Particulars: 5-foot-10, 180 pounds
    Buzz: He's quick, tough and fearless. In other words, he's a cornerback who currently is playing point guard. That he has a great vertical jump is just icing on the cake.

  • Branden Dawson, G/F, Michigan State 9

    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Branden Dawson, G/F, Michigan State

    Particulars: 6-6, 225
    Buzz: When healthy, this guy is an athletic marvel. He can jump out of the gym and also is a tough in-the-paint rebounder. Dawson would make an intriguing wide receiver prospect at his current size. Add 20-25 pounds, and he would be an intriguing tight end prospect.

  • Dustin Hogue, F, Iowa State 8

    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    Dustin Hogue, F, Iowa State

    Particulars: 6-6, 215
    Buzz: He's tough, tenacious and quick. And -- get this -- his brother, Doug, is a former NFL linebacker who now is in the CFL. With some added weight, Dustin Hogue could be an intriguing outside linebacker prospect who could scare quarterbacks with his pass rush.

  • Justin Jackson, F, Cincinnati 7

    Al Behrman/Associated Press

    Justin Jackson, F, Cincinnati

    Particulars: 6-8, 230
    Buzz: As with all the Bearcats, he is a physical, aggressive player. With about 20 more pounds, Jackson could be a down-the-seam tight end or even a third-down pass rusher off the edge. His leaping ability would make him even more valuable as a tight end.

  • Elfrid Payton, G, Louisiana-Lafayette 6

    Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press

    Elfrid Payton, G, Louisiana-Lafayette

    Particulars: 6-3, 180
    Buzz: Payton is from Marrero (La.) Ehret High, which produced Jacksonville Jaguars DT Drake Nevis and LSU LB Lamin Barrow, who looks to be a mid-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Payton is tough and physical, but also has great quickness. In other words, add 15 or so pounds, and put him at free safety.

  • Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State 5

    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State

    Particulars: 6-4, 220
    Buzz: He is a definite lottery pick in the NBA and is going to make a lot of money playing pro basketball. Still, envision him about 15 pounds heavier and playing outside linebacker. The guy is athletic, has super-quick hands and also is physical and tough-minded.

  • Jarnell Stokes, F, Tennessee 4

    Steve Helber/Associated Press

    Jarnell Stokes, F, Tennessee

    Particulars: 6-8, 260
    Buzz: Tight end is the first position that comes to mind, as he is surprisingly nimble for his size. But he also has excellent strength and is a bull in the low blocks. With about 30 more pounds, he also would make a mighty intriguing offensive tackle. He has the footwork part down pat.

  • Briante Weber, G, VCU 3

    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    Briante Weber, G, VCU

    Particulars: 6-2, 165
    Buzz: He's a little on the light side. But, oh, my goodness, the quickness -- both with his feet and his hands -- is electrifying. Weber leads the nation in steals with 3.3 per game, and while VCU's frenetic style of play is a reason for that, so is his quickness. A 6-2, 180-pound corner with that kind of quickness? Hmmm ...

  • TrayVonn Wright, F, North Dakota State 2

    Steven Branscombe/USA TODAY Sports

    TrayVonn Wright, F, North Dakota State

    Particulars: 6-7, 185
    Buzz: He's a wiry guy who can jump out of the gym. He also is a good rebounder for a guy who lacks bulk. Put 15 pounds on him and turn him loose as a red-zone wide receiver.

  • Patric Young, C, Florida 1

    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Patric Young, C, Florida

    Particulars: 6-9, 250
    Buzz: He's too slow to be a tight end. But as with Stokes, put 40 pounds on him, then put him at tackle. He isn't graceful, but is tough and willing to get dirty to get the job done. Young is a high-effort guy who might be the most tenacious defender nationally among "big men." He also is a big intangibles guy who would take it personally if the quarterback ever was sacked by his guy.

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