In eight days, the dreams of two local players could begin to come true. The NFL Draft opens on Thursday, April 25, and local fans should keep an eye on two players with area ties:
Akeem Spence, a 6-foot-3, 295-pound defensive tackle from the University of Illinois, is a 2009 graduate of Fort Walton Beach. Spence, a Second-Team All Big-Ten selection during his time at Illinois, graduated with a bachelor's degree in communications in December and opted to skip his senior season to declare for the NFL Draft. Ranked third among all defensive tackles in bench press reps with 37 at the NFL Combine, Spence has been projected by numerous draft prognosticators to go anywhere in the 3-5 round range, with projections varying.
Terren Jones is a 6-foot-8, 345-pound mountain at left tackle, and he's also a graduate of Choctawhatchee High School. After four solid years at Alabama State and a career that included three-straight All-SWAC selections, Jones could be a wild card in this year's draft, with small school experts believing he has a very strong chance to get drafted. Jones has a private workout with the Atlanta Falcons scheduled for this Friday, and reports have indicated the teams like the Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks are high on the Choctaw product.
I will be talking to Jones on Wednesday morning to get an update on his thoughts as the draft nears, and I'll hopefully get Spence on the phone later this week.