Small School Players in the NFL Draft
by Aaron Smith - 4/2/2010
Each year the players from schools that are considered ‘off the map’ in college football are overlooked by almost all of the experts. Every season some of those small school players end up making a big impact in the NFL, so it is time to pay attention. While it is understandable that the media becomes fixated on the first round or so and the huge prospects, as a wise sports follower you should realize that these players from obscure schools do make a huge difference! This list of 12 may not have any big-name stars right now, but I’m willing to bet some of the players on this list will be big contributors in the NFL in the years to come.
- Andre Roberts, WR, The Citadel- Roberts is one of the top-10 wide receivers available in this year’s class. Many analysts thought he looked like the best receiver at this year’s Senior Bowl. Roberts ran a 4.46 40-yard dash, and he runs very smooth routes. He should be able to get separation, even in the NFL. He may also return punts, which he did well in college.
- Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, CB, Indiana PA- Here’s an interesting tidbit: Akwasi actually means “born on Sunday”. Owusu-Ansah may be the best small school player available in this year’s NFL Draft. At 6-foot-1 and 207 pounds he ran a blazing 4.31 40-yard dash and he benched 225 pounds an amazing 21 times. His pro-day workout will get him drafted by the third round.
- John Skelton, QB, Fordham- Skelton is charging up the draft charts as the days go by. At 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, he has the perfect build for an NFL quarterback. He is actually fairly mobile for his size, and his arm strength is tremendous. At the Combine he really showed the scouts what he can do. He should be gone by the fourth round.
- Jared Veldheer, OT, Hillsdale- Veldheer is a beast of a young man at 6-foot-8 and 315 pounds. Veldheer’s strength and lateral movement is tremendous for a man of his size. His one major flaw is the short length of his arms, but with mechanics like his someone will definitely take a chance on him fairly high in the draft.
- Vladimir Ducasse, OT, UMass- Ducasse is another in the line of great tackles in this year’s small school list. Vladimir weighs in at 330 pounds and has decent arm length at 34.75 inches. He played for a hugely-successful program in college and seems to have his position down to a science.
- Clay Harbor, TE, Missouri State- Harbor is a big man who is also mobile and has great hands. It’s unclear where he might fit in at the NFL level, but his skill set makes it likely that some team will want to see if he can prove to be a diamond in the rough.
- Tony Washington, OT, Abilene Christian- Abilene Christian has had quite a few prospects in the last few years, and Washington is another strong one. Washington’s talent is capable of making him a first- or second-round pick, but some off the field questions may hurt his draft stock a little. His arm length at 35.5 inches is a huge plus.
- Austen Lane, DE, Murray State- With 19.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks last year, he made his presence known early and often. His 6-foot-6 and 270 pound frame is an impressive one, but he might need to show a little more speed to get early round attention. Lane will definitely get a call at some point on draft weekend.
- Armanti Edwards, QB/WR, Appalachian State- Edwards was the quarterback when the Mountaineers shocked Michigan in the Big House a couple of years ago. Edwards is an extremely talented quarterback, but his size forces him to another position in the NFL. He could certainly play quarterback effectively for a few plays in a Wildcat offense.
- Donald Jones, WR, Youngstown State- Jones is a very solid route runner, and a player who should be able to get separation with solid speed. He is the type of player that will go late in the draft to someone who needs some wide receiver help.
- Danny Batten, DE, South Dakota State- Batten is an extremely hard worker and is one of the strongest defensive ends available this year. He put up 225 pounds 30 times in his pro day in March. He is more of a power rusher than a speed rusher, but his work ethic and solid effort in college will get him a call on draft day.
- Deji Karim, RB, Southern Illinois- Karim’s pro day should land him on an NFL team for this coming season. Karim jumped an amazing 43-inch vertical, which was two full inches higher than any other running back. He also ran a 4.37 40-yard dash. Karim averaged 7.1 yards per carry in 2009. In a weak running back class, he’ll definitely get a chance to prove himself.
Most Recent NFL Draft
- NFL Draft Grades for First Round
- 2012 NFL Mock Draft
- Five Reasons Andrew Luck Will Be A Bust
- NFL Draft Analysis: Six Reasons Robert Griffin III Will Be A Bust
- 2012 NFL Draft Props and Predictions
- NFL Draft Predictions: Late-Round Sleeper Projections
- NFL Draft: Top Defensive Players on the Board
- NFL Draft Predictions
- NFL Draft Analysis: Players with Character Issues
- NFL Draft Prospects