Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Illinois junior cornerback Vontae Davis is entering the NFL draft, and no one should be surprised.
What would be a surprise is if Davis does not become the first cornerback selected on April 25. Though Ohio State's Malcolm Jenkins and others might garner more awards and accolades, Davis projects to be the best NFL cornerback of the group. He's a virtual lock to be a first-round pick and could go in the top 15.
Several NFL scouts I've talked with gush about Davis, a physiological marvel who brings speed, strength and tremendous tackling ability to the table.
Davis not only can run with the best receivers out there, but unlike some talented cornerbacks, he's not averse to contact. He led Big Ten cornerbacks in tackles this season (78) and racked up 206 tackles (13.5 for loss) and seven interceptions in three seasons as a starter.
If Davis maintains a strong mental focus -- Illinois head coach Ron Zook demoted him to the second-team defense at times -- he should be a star at the next level.
Illinois undoubtedly anticipated Davis' early departure. The Illini will certainly miss him in the secondary next fall, but they should be better at the safety spots and junior Dere Hicks could be a top cover corner.