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Small School Prospects look at last 7, others you know

Discussion in 'Draft Zone' started by cowboyjoe, Mar 28, 2010.

  1. cowboyjoe

    cowboyjoe Well-Known Member

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    Small School Prospects

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    PRINTER FRIENDLY NFL Draft Preview Archives


    Prospects coming from the small Division-I school and sub-FBS ranks are always at a disadvantage because the competition they've faced doesn't remotely resemble what they'll go against in the National Football League. On a good day, a right defensive end like Larry Hart from Central Arkansas squared off with a left tackle that might make it to an NFL camp, only to be cut in September and wind up selling insurance.

    The No. 1 requirement when scouring lower levels for NFL talent is domination. These players must stand out on virtually every snap of every game. It must be clear that a small-school prospect is better than the rest of the players on the field.

    Here are 25 players that met that requirement.

    Appalachian State QB Armanti Edwards

    Edwards' legend took effect with the Mountaineers' upset of No. 5-ranked Michigan during the '07 season opener, but the first ever two-time Walter Payton Award (D-IAA's Heisman) winner was far from a one-game wonder. A four-year starter, Edwards finished his career with 139 all-purpose TDs, a 45-9 record, and with virtually every QB record in Southern Conference history. Edwards was injury prone throughout his four seasons, goes 6'0/194 in high heels, and is probably a better runner than passer. He isn't going to play quarterback in the pros. But Antwaan Randle El is a viable comparison, and Edwards will be well worth a third-day flier with gadget-play potential, if not the ability to develop into a full-time wide receiver down the road.

    Draft Projection: Late-fifth to sixth round

    Arkansas State DE Alex Carrington

    "BCS team" tackles and guards received a rude awakening at the Senior Bowl when an unknown, if hulking 6'5/284-pound end with the last name of Carrington lined up opposite them. Observers called Carrington the best defensive player in Mobile, which wouldn't have surprised anyone in the Sun Belt. Carrington, a four-year starter, was the conference's player of the year in 2008, closing out his final two seasons with a whopping 33.5 tackles for loss and 19.5 sacks. Despite abnormally short arms (31"), Carrington is a true bull rusher with plenty of quicks. A likely NFL starter, he could play left end or under tackle in a 4-3. He's a five-technique prospect for the 3-4.

    Draft Projection: Mid-second to early-third round

    Buffalo RB James Starks

    Starks' trajectory entering 2009 pointed toward a monster finish to his college career before a torn left labrum and subsequent year-ending surgery ended it. There's still plenty to like here. Built ala Adrian Peterson at 6'2/217, Starks made the successful conversion from high school quarterback to workhorse college tailback as a redshirt freshman. A second-team All-MAC pick in his first and second seasons, Starks exploded for 1,333 yards on 272 carries, 16 rushing scores, and a highly impressive 52 catches in 2008. The cousin of Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Johnny Flynn, Starks should be 100% by next week's Scouting Combine. With versatility and size already on his side, Starks' stock will resume soaring if he's able to run his forty in the high-4.4 range.

    Draft Projection: Late-fifth to sixth round

    Central Arkansas DE Larry Hart

    Hart transferred into the D-IAA ranks after two years of community college and immediately made his presence felt. The 6'0/247-pound pass rusher rang up 21 tackles for loss and 12 sacks as a junior to take home Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2008. Hart's production (10.5 TFL, 9.5 sacks) tailed off some as a senior amid more offensive focus, but he was still named the conference's co-Defensive POY while leading the league in forced fumbles (4) and blocking two kicks. A right end in college, Hart projects as a situational blitzer and impact special teamer at the next level. He'll appeal mostly to teams that run the 3-4 defensive system.

    Draft Projection: Mid-fifth to sixth round

    Central Florida DT Torell Troup

    A mainstay at the thankless nose tackle spot in George O'Leary's Golden Knights defense, Troup only flashed penetrating ability in college. His primary role was to occupy double teams in front of middle linebacker Cory Hogue (UCF's leading tackler) and alongside right end Jarvis Geathers (11 sacks in '09). Troup still managed five tackles for loss and a pair of sacks as a senior. A 39-game starter, Troup went on to impress by exhibiting natural power at the East-West Shrine all-star event. At 6'3/310, Troup could afford to add weight to his frame and offers starting potential as a two-down run stopper. Troup fits both the 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, increasing his draft value.

    Draft Projection: Mid-third to fourth round

    Citadel WR Andre Roberts

    It's unusual that a Citadel alum is invited to the Senior Bowl, but Roberts bucked the trend and capitalized. The recognition was deserved. A three-year starter at the military college, Roberts racked up 172 catches for 2,126 yards (12.4 YPC) and 22 TDs in his final two seasons. He made a similarly monster impact on special teams, finishing first nationally in D-IAA punt return average as a junior and sixth as a senior while bringing back three returns for touchdowns. Roberts, who ran on The Citadel's track team, proved he could excel against high-level competition by dropping nine catches for 153 yards and a score on Clemson in 2008. Exceptionally quick in a short area with plenty of long speed, Roberts projects as an NFL slot man with homerun-hitting return skills.

    Draft Projection: Late-third to fourth round

    Fordham QB John Skelton

    I covered Skelton extensively in Draft 2010: The Quarterbacks. In a nutshell, Skelton has a chance to be this year's Joe Flacco. While he faced sub-par competition at non-scholarship D-IAA, Skelton's obliteration of the level is impressive, as are his physical characteristics. Skelton is built like Ben Roethlisberger at 6'5/244, has a howitzer for an arm, and was perhaps the most aggressive passer at any level of college football a year ago. In a class thin on quarterbacks with starting upside after Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen, Skelton won't have any trouble getting drafted.

    Draft Projection: Late-third to mid-fourth round

    Hampton RB LaMarcus Coker

    Coker originally signed with Tennessee as the nation's No. 2 overall all-purpose tailback recruit. A state champion prep sprinter, Coker made first-team freshman All America in 2006 and won the Vols' starting job over Arian Foster in '07. Violating the university's drug policy, though, got Coker kicked out of school. He resurfaced at Hampton and ranked second in all-purpose yardage in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in 2009. Explosive in the passing game, Coker averaged 15.5 yards per reception in the Pirates' decidedly run-heavy offense. He ran two sub-4.4 forties, timing as fast as 4.27 at November's East Coast Bowl, a sub-Division I all-star event. Coker carries lots of red flags, but can burn at 5'10/195 and has game-breaking potential as a pace-change back.

    Draft Projection: Late-fifth to sixth round

    Hillsdale OT Jared Veldheer

    Division-II offensive linemen are always huge projects, but Veldheer's skill set is awesomely intriguing. At 6'9/321, he has been timed as fast as 4.8 in the forty-yard dash and can bench press 225 pounds 32 times. Obviously, we'll hear lots about Veldheer at next week's Combine. Also incredibly durable, Veldheer started every game (43) of his college career at left tackle, never sitting out due to injury. Veldheer most likely won't be ready to play anytime soon, but he appears to have enough athleticism to someday be an NFL starter, particularly in a zone-blocking scheme.

    Draft Projection: Early-fourth to late-fourth round



    Indiana (PA) CB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah

    Owusu-Ansah has missed all postseason all-star events while coming off surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Clearly, though, he offers many of the traits NFL teams look for in impact corners. Owusu-Ansah, whose first name fittingly means "Born on Sunday" in African, goes 6'1/197 and intercepted eight passes as a junior before rarely being tested as a senior. He also had nine career return touchdowns, including three on punts and two on kickoffs in 2009. Timed at 4.48 in the forty, Owusu-Ansah possesses an ideal size-speed combination for the next level. His stock could vault into the second-round range should he impress at his March Pro Day.

    Draft Projection: Late-third to fourth round

    Jacksonville State QB Ryan Perrilloux

    Signed as the No. 1 overall QB recruit in 2005 by LSU, Perrilloux left college with more negatives than positives. He was suspended by Les Miles as a sophomore for trying to use his brother's I.D. to enter a casino, and again for getting into a bar fight. Perrilloux was finally kicked out of LSU for failing a drug test in May of 2008, and landed at JSU. Confirming his issues weren't behind him, Perrilloux sat out the Gamecocks' 2009 opener for an undisclosed violation of team rules. He wound up earning Ohio Valley Conference POY honors, completing 58.5% of his passes with a 23:2 TD-to-INT ratio. Off-field woes may keep Perrilloux out of the draft, but he'll get a chance somewhere because of his ability. Perrilloux has a cannon arm, quick release, and is highly athletic.

    Draft Projection: Seventh round to free agent

    James Madison DE Arthur Moats

    Winner of the 2009 Buck Buchanan Award as D-IAA's premier defender, Moats lived in opposing backfields as a junior and senior. Also the Colonial Athletic Conference Defensive POY, Moats rang up 39 tackles for loss, 22.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in his final two years, and blocked two kicks as a senior. Clearly a man among boys, Moats also led James Madison in tackles as a senior -- highly impressive for a lineman. Moats, though, goes 6'0/246 and will have to convert from low-level end into a 3-4 rush linebacker in the NFL. Next week's Combine will be crucial, as Moats must exhibit the ability to drop into coverage and rush with his hand up to solidify his stock.

    Draft Projection: Early-fifth to sixth round

    Louisiana-Monroe LB Cardia Jackson

    The Sun Belt Conference's leading tackler and co-league player of the year in 2009, Jackson started all four seasons for the Warhawks and compiled 24 tackles for loss in his final three. Louisiana-Monroe plays a rare 4-2-5 defensive scheme, calling on Jackson to be the unit's playmaker and line up both inside and out. He isn't expected to time especially well in speed and agility drills, which is a concern at a relatively small build (6'2/230). But there's no doubting Jackson's production and ability to wreak havoc. He may wind up as a special teams maven.

    Draft Projection: Late-sixth to seventh round

    Louisiana Tech DT D'Anthony Smith

    A Senior Bowl invitee, Smith projects as a "three-technique" tackle for a 4-3 system. He showed an explosive first step in Mobile, frequently winning one-on-ones when shooting the gap. Smith's college production wasn't off the charts, but he was a four-year starter and made first-team All-WAC as both a junior and senior, missing just one career game due to injury and recording 8.5 sacks in his final two seasons combined. Another example of this draft's depth at defensive tackle, Smith is likely to be an NFL contributor, even if it's only in a rotation on passing downs.

    Draft Projection: Early-fourth to fifth round

    Marshall RB Darius Marshall

    Ahmad Bradshaw's successor for the Thundering Herd and a spitting image of the Giants' change-of-pace back, Marshall declared for the pros after starting all three seasons. He made second-team All-C USA in both of his final two years. In 2009, Marshall averaged 5.0 yards per carry with 11 touchdowns despite missing three games, two with a late-season ankle sprain and one due to suspension. Marshall was arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession last offseason. With a compact running style and 4.4 speed at 5'10/190, though, Marshall offers explosive, No. 2 back potential similar to Bradshaw. Marshall also returned kickoffs throughout his college career.

    Draft Projection: Early-fifth to sixth round

    Middle Tennessee State DE Chris McCoy

    McCoy shared Sun Belt Defensive POY honors with the aforementioned Cardia Jackson following a breakout campaign. The 6'3/251-pound end racked up 20 tackles for loss, seven sacks, and two fumble recoveries in 2009. A two-year starter, McCoy essentially came out of nowhere after replacing current Dolphins OLB Erik Walden in the Blue Raiders' lineup. Like Walden, McCoy is also destined to play linebacker in a 3-4 NFL system. McCoy will be viewed as a project coming from a low-level college and making a position switch, but clearly possesses disruptive ability.

    Draft Projection: Mid-fourth to fifth round

    Murray State DE Austen Lane

    Blessed with a Julius Peppers-like build at 6'6/267 and a highly productive track record as a four-year starter, Lane was a big play waiting to happen in D-IAA. He totaled a whopping 41.5 tackles for loss and 25 sacks in his final two years, winning Ohio Valley Conference Defensive POY as a senior. Lane was also remarkably consistent, registering at least one TFL in every game last season. The former high school wideout returned a fumble for a touchdown in the North's 31-13 victory over the South at last month's Senior Bowl, proving he can play with the big boys. Lane needs to get stronger, but offers potential to be the ideal 4-3 left defensive end at the next level.

    Draft Projection: Mid-second to mid-third round

    North Alabama WR Preston Parker

    The nation's No. 12 overall receiver recruit in '06, Parker initially signed with Florida State only to get himself arrested out of Tallahassee. The 6'0/200-pound wideout/return ace was suspended two games in 2008 after being caught with a gun and marijuana in the offseason. Bobby Bowden kicked Parker off the team in '09 following a DUI arrest, during which he was found asleep behind the wheel of his car in a McDonald's drive-thru. Parker told police that he was drunk and had smoked marijuana. Resurfacing with Bowden's son Terry at North Alabama for his senior year, Parker caught 52 passes for 789 yards (15.2 YPC) and six TDs. Parker will struggle to get drafted because of his off-field problems, but has enough ability that someone will give him a shot.

    Draft Projection: Seventh round to free agent

    North Alabama SS Quinton Andrews

    Another Terry Bowden reclamation project, Andrews looked to be one of the nation's top young safeties when he picked off five passes as a redshirt freshman at West Virginia. However, he would be suspended twice as a sophomore, once for obstructing an officer, and later kicked off the team by coach Bill Stewart following the Mountaineers' 2009 Meineke Car Care Bowl win over North Carolina. Andrews ultimately clashed with two coaching staffs at WVU (also Rich Rodriguez's). At North Alabama, Andrews led the Gamecocks with six interceptions, had a pick six, finished second on the team in tackles, and forced three fumbles. With his head on straight, Andrews is a punishing hitter with serious big-play ability and a Louis Delmas-like skill set.

    Draft Projection: Seventh round to free agent

    Norfolk State FS Terrell Whitehead

    A three-and-a-half-year starter, Whitehead was D-IAA's version of Ed Reed as the Spartans' ball-hawking centerfielder. He finished his career with a ridiculous 18 picks, including six apiece as a sophomore and senior. Whitehead entered college at a featherweight 160 pounds, which may explain why he was so lightly recruited. But he got up to 6'2/200 by his senior year and was the anchor of Norfolk State's outstanding pass defense, which ranked first in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Whitehead also garnered first-team All American honors in the FCS. Speed and physicality are question marks for Whitehead, but his dynamic playmaking ability is hard to find.

    Draft Projection: Late-sixth to seventh round

    North Dakota State RB Pat Paschall

    D-IAA's leader in rushing yards per game last year, Paschall didn't realize his potential until being given NDSU's full-time backfield reins as a senior. Stuck in a committee during the '07 and '08 seasons, Paschall exploded for 1,397 yards on 207 carries (6.8 YPC) and 16 rushing touchdowns as well as a 15.5 yards-per-reception average in 2009. Paschall obviously doesn't have Chris Johnson's long speed, but resembles the Titans' 2,000-yard rusher with his dread-locked look, size (6'0/198), toughness between the tackles, and penchant for finishing runs. Paschall was also one of the stars at last month's East-West Shrine game and could pay off as a mid- to late-round pick with the ability to contribute as a No. 2 back and possible fill-in starter in the event of injury.

    Draft Projection: Late-fifth to sixth round

    Northern Iowa DE James Ruffin

    Many small-school ends move to linebacker in the pros. Not Ruffin. At 6'3/266, the four-year starter possesses adequate size to stay on the line as a rotational nickel rusher. Ruffin, the Missouri Valley Conference Defensive POY as a junior, shared the honor as a senior with South Dakota State's Danny Batten after racking up 10.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss. Ruffin had 18 TFLs and 10 sacks as a junior, confirming his ability to consistently dominate FCS competition. Ruffin made first-team all-conference in each of his final three years. While he lacks elite burst and suddenness, Ruffin is a high-motor player with potential to make an impact on third downs.

    Draft Projection: Late-sixth to seventh round

    Southern Methodist WR Emmanuel Sanders

    Sanders nearly declared for the NFL following a 67-catch, 958-yard, nine-score junior season, but new coach June Jones convinced him to stay for one more year. Sanders capitalized by breaking SMU's 41-year-old record for single-season receiving yards with 1,339. He also caught 98 passes and averaged 13.7 YPC in Jones' run-and-shoot. Devastatingly quick at 5'11/182, Sanders was a homerun punt-return threat and consistent red-zone force, scoring 34 career receiving TDs. The offense Sanders played in will be held against him and he'll definitely need to bulk up. But his athletic ability and speed can't be taught, and Sanders' versatility will help him on draft day.

    Draft Projection: Late-fifth to sixth round

    South Dakota State DE Danny Batten

    The Missouri Valley's co-Defensive Player of the Year along with Ruffin in '09, Batten impressively ranked second on the Jackrabbits in tackles from his defensive end slot. He also chipped in a club-high 17 tackles for loss and nine sacks. A former first-team all-state rugby player in Arizona, Batten went on to start all four years at SDSU, finishing his career with 52.5 TFLs. The 6'2/250-pound rusher was successfully tried at both outside and inside linebacker during February's Texas vs. Nation all-star event. Also asked to drop into coverage frequently after slimming down to the 245-pound range in 2009, Batten will appeal to teams that value versatility, like the Patriots.

    Draft Projection: Mid-sixth to seventh round

    Stillman DE Junior Galette

    Players usually transfer from the FBS ranks to D-IAA because of a lack of playing time. Galette, though, was a highly productive end at Temple before being suspended indefinitely for an off-field violation. Resurfacing at Stillman, an all-black college that produced Lions starting DT Sammie Lee Hill a year ago, Galette rang up conference highs in sacks (9.5), forced fumbles (3), and tackles for loss (17.5) in just eight games last year. A Haiti native, Galette should perform well at next week's Combine because he is an explosive athlete. Galette may be viewed as a future starting 3-4 OLB by NFL teams if he runs in the 4.5s and impresses with his 10-yard split.

    Draft Projection: Early-fifth to sixth round
  2. DFWJC

    DFWJC Well-Known Member Zone Supporter

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    I am not shooting the messenger, but many of those schools do NOT fall under the "small school" classification. Just that fact alone makes the author (not you, CBJ) a source that is hard to take seriously. I'm sorry, but Central Florida is not even close to being a small school program. It's the 3rd largest university in the country and plays D-1 football.

    I guess the best of the true "small schools" (non D-1) is Appalachian St....and I do really like Edwards.

    Obviously Marshall, SMU and others on that list are not small school football programs either...even if SMU has played like it for the last decade up until recently.
  3. cowboyjoe

    cowboyjoe Well-Known Member

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    understood buddy, there were a few prospects though that i found interesting, not drooling over mind you, but interesting you know;

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