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Dawuane Smoot projected to be No. 10 overall pick in Bleacher Reports’ 2017 NFL Mock Draft

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The Fighting Illini haven’t produced a top ten pick since 1996.

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

We’re one week into the new college football season and, despite some over-aggressive plays in the season opener, Illinois’ Dawuane Smoot is still being hailed as a top NFL Draft prospect. Bleacher Report published their updated mock draft on Wednesday morning, and they project the senior defensive to go No. 10 overall to the Atlanta Falcons.

There are a lot of high-profile pass-rushers in college football, and many will get top billing throughout the draft season, but Illinois' Dawuane Smoot isn't getting the recognition he deserves as a top-tier rusher.

The attention shouldn’t be anything new for Smoot because he was already being mentioned as a first round talent back in April. Plus, just about every major defensive honor has named Smoot to their preseason watch list thanks to his 8.0 sacks and 15.0 tackles-for-loss as a junior.

If Smoot does indeed end up as a top ten selection, he’d be the highest Illini draftee since 1996, when Kevin Hardy and Simeon Rice went No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. Illinois’ most recent first round pick was Whitney Mercilus (Houston, 26) in 2012.

Dawuane Smoot Highlights (Junior Season)