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Hayden Hurst headlines Gamecocks awaiting their fate in 2018 NFL Draft

Time to find out where the next generation of NFL Gamecocks is headed.

Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

A year after being shut out of the NFL Draft, the South Carolina Gamecocks should see some players come off the board again in the 2018 edition. The first round begins tonight at 8 p.m. (FOX, ESPN, NFL Network), with the second and third rounds set for Friday and rounds four through seven wrapping up on Saturday.

Here’s a quick look at notable Gamecocks who will be awaiting their professional destinations:

Tight end Hayden Hurst

Hurst is the clear headliner of the group, an All-SEC performer and school record holder whose stock has been on the rise. A substantial NFL crowd took in his pro day performance, including luminaries such as New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Once considered a near-consensus second-day pick, Hurst is now among the top tight end prospects in the draft and has drawn favorable comparisons to stars like Greg Olsen and Travis Kelce. Hurst is now projected in the first round by multiple analysts: NFL Network’s Mike Mayock has him going 29th overall to his hometown Jacksonville Jaguars, while ESPN’s David Newton has the local Carolina Panthers grabbing him at No. 24. Another NFL Network analyst, Daniel Jeremiah, mocked Hurst 19th overall to the Dallas Cowboys.

The Gamecocks have had a handful of tight ends drafted in recent years, with Jerell Adams mostly recently going in the sixth round to the New York Giants. Hurst is set to become the latest, and could come off the board in primetime.

Linebacker Skai Moore

After enduring injuries and a lost season, the Gamecocks’ all-time interceptions leader and leading tackler from the four seasons he played is finally ready to start his NFL chapter. ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper has Moore slated for the fourth or fifth round, citing his lack of size as his biggest challenge.

Defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth

Stallworth enjoyed a solid senior season for the Gamecocks, anchoring the line and leading the team with 10 quarterback hurries. Bleacher Report ranked him as the 25th-best defensive tackle prospect in the draft, but pointed out concerns he doesn’t have a defined NFL position. Still, the NFL Network has Stallworth going in the seventh round.

Cornerback JaMarcus King

King had a bit of an up-and-down career at South Carolina, but ended on a high note with a game-clinching pick against Michigan in the Outback Bowl victory. According to the NFL Network’s projections, he’s a likely sixth- or seventh-round choice.

Center Cory Helms and defensive tackles Ulric Jones and Dante Sawyer will also likely find themselves in the mix in undrafted free agency.