Thornhill enters NFL Draft as UVA's top prospect

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- The consensus among NFL Draft analysts is that defensive back Juan Thornhill will be the first Virginia football player selected when the three-day event kicks off on Thursday night.

Some mock drafts even project Thornhill as a possible late first-round pick, though most have him coming off the board on Friday night in either the second or third round. UVA hasn't produced a first round pick since offensive lineman Eugene Monroe went No. 8 overall in 2009. Defensive end Eli Harold, a third-rounder in 2015, was the school's last day two pick.

On Tuesday, longtime NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. put Thornhill as his No. 32 overall prospect in his latest 'Big Board' of the top 300 prospects in this year's class. Kiper echoed the sentiments of several evaluators by pointing to Thornhill's versatility and "elite athleticism" as his strongest traits coming out of UVA. Thornhill played both cornerback and safety for the Cavaliers, and could potentially play either position in the NFL.

Kiper also ranked Thornhill as the No. 3 safety in the 2019 draft class in his position rankings.

Thornhill was the only UVA prospect to crack Kiper's updated "Big Board" on Tuesday, but four of his former teammates showed up on the analyst's position rankings. Tim Harris ranked No. 38 at cornerback, Chris Peace No. 49 at outside linebacker, Jordan Ellis No. 53 at running back and Olamide Zaccheaus No. 61 at wide receiver.

Virginia has had at least one player selected in 34 of the last 35 drafts, including inside linebacker Micah Kiser and defensive end Andrew Brown in Round 5 last year.

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