Wisconsin cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu, a two-time All-Big 10 defender who is projected by scouts as a high-round selection, will forego his final season of college eligibility to enter the 2008 NFL draft, ESPN.com has learned.
Ikegwuonu, who turned 22 on Monday, has filed the appropriate paperwork with the league office for entry into the lottery.
A starter the past two seasons, Ikegwuonu got off to an uneven start in 2007, according to scouts familiar with his performance, but finished strong and re-established himself as one of the top defensive backfield prospects. There are some scouts who feel that he will project better to free safety than cornerback.
Ikegwuonu has good size (6 feet 1, 202 pounds) and has been timed by school officials in the 4.4s for the 40-yard dash. League talent evaluators do not yet have an accurate time on him and two scouts reached Monday evening acknowledged they are curious to see just how fast he runs in pre-draft workouts.
The Madison, Wis., native, scouts said, possesses solid cover instincts. The two scouts noted that Ikegwuonu seemed to raise the level of his game against the conference's top receivers.
How teams project him in the draft could be affected by the belief in some quarters that cornerback will not be a deep position in the 2008 lottery.
Because he has not been officially cleared for the draft, league scouts are precluded from discussing Ikegwuonu with the media.
In 39 appearances, 29 as a starter, Ikegwuonu totaled 91 tackles, 5½ tackles for losses, six interceptions, 35 passes defensed, one forced fumble and one recovery. Ikegwuonu had 16 pass breakups in 2007.
Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.