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Several Eastern Kentucky University football players could hear their names called during the 2016 National Football League Draft that begins Thursday in Chicago.

The three-day draft begins with the first round on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET.  Rounds two and three will be held on Friday beginning at 7 p.m. ET.  The final four rounds are scheduled to get underway on Saturday at noon.  The entire 2016 NFL Draft will air live on ESPN.

Noah Spence is likely to be a first round selection.  Other Colonels that could hear their name called include Dy’Shawn Mobley, Ben Madon and Stanley Absanon.

Since 1951, 32 EKU football players have been drafted by NFL teams.  The most recent was Antwaun Molden, a third round choice by the Houston Texans in 2008.  If Spence is drafted in the first round, he will become the third Colonel to go in the opening round.  Defensive end Aaron Jones was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 18th pick in the 1988 draft.  Wally Chambers, Eastern’s highest draft pick, was taken by the Chicago Bears with the eighth pick in 1973.

The highest drafted player in Ohio Valley Conference history is Phil Simms, the seventh pick in the 1979 draft.  The last OVC player to be taken in the first round was Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, picked 16th overall in 2008.

Spence has been projected as high as No. 4 in this year’s draft.  He ended his junior season at EKU by being chosen as an All-American by the Associated Press, STATS, Walter Camp Foundation and College Sporting News.  He was also chosen as the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) National Defensive Performer of the Year by College Football Performance Awards.

Spence announced in December that he would forgo his final season of collegiate eligibility and enter the draft.  In January, Spence had an outstanding performance at the Reese's Senior Bowl.
The 6-foot-3 defensive end finished the season ranked fourth nationally in tackles for a loss (2.0/game) and fifth in sacks (1.05/game).  Overall the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania native had 22.5 tackles for a loss and 11.5 sacks, the fourth-most in EKU single-season history.

Mobley, a running back from Powell, Tennessee, was a Sports Network All-America selection and the OVC Offensive Player of the Year in 2014 after rushing for 1,491 yards and 20 touchdowns.  Injuries limited him to nine games and 110 carries in 2015, but he looked healthy during an impressive work out at EKU’s Pro Day in March.

Madon, a tight end from Pineville, Kentucky, was a first team All-OVC selection this past season.  He caught 34 passes for a team-best 456 yards in 2015.  He also had three touchdown catches.  Madon’s 40-yard dash time at EKU’s Pro Day was better than several tight ends invited to the NFL Draft Combine in February.

Absanon, a defensive back from Auburndale, Florida, was a preseason All-OVC choice prior to his senior season in 2015.  He had three interceptions, seven pass break-ups and 22 tackles last year.  As a kick returner, he averaged 26.2 yards on kickoffs and 9.8 yards on punts.  Absanon returned an interception 56 yards for a touchdown in the season opener against Valparaiso.  In 2014, he was chosen as the FCS Defensive Player of the Week picking off two passes in Eastern’s upset victory over FBS Miami (Ohio).