The top NFL draft analysts don't have any UND football players being selected in this weekend's seven rounds.
Saturday, though, could still be an exciting day for the pro futures of five former Fighting Hawks.
Running backs Brady Oliveira and John Santiago, cornerback Deion Harris and defensive linemen Tank Harris and Austin Cieslak have been working out since the end of the 2018 season in hopes of landing an NFL opportunity.
The first round of the NFL draft begins at 7 p.m. tonight in Nashville. Rounds 2 and 3 are held Friday starting at 6 p.m.
The final three rounds (4-7) are Saturday beginning at 11 a.m.
After the draft, teams start scooping up undrafted free agents quickly-the most likely route for a majority of UND's pro hopefuls. That was the timeframe recently for former UND standouts-turned-NFL signees Will Ratelle (2016, Atlanta Falcons) and Greg Hardin (2014, Denver Broncos).
"I don't care where I play, what team I play for, I just want to get to a camp and show my skills," Oliveira said earlier this week after a workout at UND's High Performance Center.
As a Winnipeg native, Oliveira is nearly a lock to be selected in the Canadian Football League draft the following weekend. Some mock drafts have the power back being selected in the first round.
- UND Insider (@UNDinsider) October 21, 2018
But he's still hopeful for a shot in the NFL. He's heard from the Miami Dolphins and the Green Bay Packers in the past two weeks.
Oliveira has spent the weeks leading up the NFL draft in Grand Forks working out with UND strength coach Nate Baukol and Fighting Hawks running backs coach Malcolm Agnew.
- Malcolm Agnew (@M_80lane) April 23, 2019
He'll spend the weekend at home in Winnipeg.
"It's going to be hard not to look at my phone (during the draft)," Oliveira said. "But I'm a firm believer that it's all going to work out."
Deion Harris, who had a big junior season in 2016 before suffering a season-ending Achilles injury that wiped out his entire 2017 season, was the only former UND player to make Mel Kiper's ESPN rankings. He was listed as the No. 41 cornerback in the draft.
- Deion Harris (@deionharris24) February 3, 2019
The last three years, 29, 34 and 32 corners were taken in the draft.
Santiago's strongest argument for NFL selection is in his showings against FBS competition, especially against Wyoming (24 carries, 148 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Washington (18 carries, 139 yards).
- UND Insider (@UNDinsider) September 8, 2018
UND in the NFL Draft
UND's NFL Draft picks since 1980:
Yr. First Last Rd. Pick Pos. Team
1980 Dale Markham 11 287 DT Chiefs
1981 Todd Thomas 5 124 OL Chiefs
1987 Tracy Martin 6 161 WR Jets
1989 Norm McGee 11 307 WR 49ers
1989 Monte Smith 9 236 OL Broncos
1991 Dean Witkowski 9 229 LB Packers
1999 Jim Kleinsasser 2 44 TE Vikings
2006 Chris Kuper 5 161 OL Broncos