Divine Deablo’s size is expected to help him make a transition to a new position in the NFL.
The Winston-Salem native, a Mount Tabor High School graduate who played at Virginia Tech, was a third-round selection by the Las Vegas Raiders on Friday night.
The Raiders will move Deablo from safety to linebacker, and Deablo also is expected to try to play on special teams.
It was a big jump for Deablo from the most prominent draft projections that had him going in the fourth and sixth round, the Roanoke (Va.) Times reported, but he was trending upward in recent weeks after running a 4.46 40-yard dash at Virginia Tech’s pro day.
He also had a strong showing at the Senior Bowl, which was the only other time NFL scouts were able to see prospects in person.
Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton got emotional in December when he discussed the impact Deablo had on the program during his time in Blacksburg, which went well beyond his contributions on game day, the Roanoke Times reported.
“If he’s not the best human being I’ve ever met in my life, he’s in a category of, like, three,” Hamilton said. “He’s one of the best people – if you meet him, he’ll be one of the best people you’ll ever meet in your life...He was the example for the other players, young and old, to follow with his work ethic, with his unselfishness, with how quickly he learned things, with his communication, with doing anything, anything that was asked of him to the best of his ability.”
Given Hamilton’s affinity for Deablo, it was no surprise that he was one of the first Virginia Tech coaches to congratulate the safety on social media after the pick was announced.
“Raiders, you just got a diamond!” Hamilton tweeted. “I’ve been blessed in my lifetime to be around some really good players and some really good people, you, my dude, are in the top 0.001% in both categories. Keep being YOU forever and always!”
Raiders general manager Mike Mayock made it clear in a news conference Friday night that his future is at linebacker.
“It was more about our linebacker coach Richard Smith jumping on the table and saying this is a starting Will (weakside) linebacker in the NFL,” Mayock said, when asked about Deablo’s position. “At 257 pounds, he ran a 4.42. He’s a looser athlete than you would think for that size. We do think he could play strong safety, but the allure to us is he can play Will linebacker position.”
Deablo, a safety, became a two-year starter at Virginia Tech. During the 2020 season, he started in nine games, with 55 tackles and four interceptions.
Deablo went to Blacksburg, Va,. as a wide receiver and turned himself into a versatile option at the NFL level with his size and speed.
Deablo was drafted less than a half-hour after his high school team defeated Dudley to advance to the Class 3-AA state championship game.
Deablo received notification of his selection with a phone call from head coach Jon Gruden, according to Raiders.com.
“You wanna be a Las Vegas Raider?” Gruden asks.
“Yes sir, I would love to be,” Deablo responds.
“You’re on man, we’re going to pick you,” Gruden says. “We are really jacked up, brother. You fired up?”
“Yes sir, I’m fired up, ready to play,” Deablo says.
Gruden asked his whereabouts, and Deablo said he was in Myrtle Beach, S.C., with his family.
“You go tell your family to pack their bags, you’re going to Vegas, all right?” Gruden says.
Deablo and his family will figure to have spending money when they get there. According to Spotrac, the estimated value of Deablo’s contract is $4.98 million with an estimate signing bonus of $982,422, the Roanoke Times reported.