2014 NFL DRAFT SMALL SCHOOL POSITION PREVIEW: SECONDARY

By College Football Analyst Josh Buchanan for TonySoftli.com

 

Below is a look at each of the projected top 5 corners and top 5 safeties with complete position rankings below for the 2014 NFL Draft.

 

CORNERBACKS

  1. Pierre Desir, Lindenwood

There has been no more productive player in the secondary than Desir.  He is a four-time All-MIAA pick who was an All-American each of the last two years.  He left Washburn to be close to home after 2010 and sat out in 2011.  He picked off nine passes as a junior and four as a senior.  His size (6’1, 198) and ball skills make him someone who could go as high as the 2nd or 3rd round.  He’s been the top rated corner on this list for two years and it’s no surprise.  If he had showed 4.4 type speed on tape and done so in the postseason, you could argue top 40 selection.

 

  1. Walt Aikens, Liberty

Aikens started his career at Illinois and left to be closer to home at Liberty.  He was a three-time All-Big South pick who had a better senior year than expected.  He has good balls kills and ideal size at 6’1, 203 pounds.  He ran well at his workouts and shows the hips, speed, and physical tools to be a good one.  He does need to work on man to man skills but has plenty of room to grow.  Expect him to be a 5th or 6th round pick.

 

  1. Brandon Dixon, Northwest Missouri State

There was no better press corner in this group on tape than Dixon.  The former JUCO transfer earned All-MIAA honors the last two years and made a name for himself in holding All-Americans John Brown and Jeff Janis in check during the fall.  He looked great at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and should get drafted late because of his press skills and 4.4 speed.

 

  1. Kendall James, Maine

James also participated in the NFLPA Bowl despite having a slight injury.  He looked good at times during the fall, especially against Northwestern, picking off a pass.  His ball skills and speed are very good.  James does need to work on technique, get stronger, and work on his man skills.  The raw corner is a late round projection because of his 4.3 speed and explosive leaping ability.

 

  1. Lavelle Westbrooks, Georgia Southern

No player on this board has vaulted as much in one season as Westbrooks.  He was a knucklehead early in his career and wasn’t considered a prospect but finally took the next step as a senior.  His ball skills, hips, and physical tools really created buzz in the fall.  He had mid to late round grades but his struggles from just blending in at the Senior Bowl and not running well (4.6 40) make him a late round or priority free agent option.

 

SAFETIES

1. LJ McCray, Catawba

The Catawba product didn’t get all the hype because of Danny O’Brien showing up and his missed tackles on tape didn’t help him but he did very well at his pro day and showed at 6’0, 210 pounds with 4.5 speed that he has the tools to be a quality special teamer and play either safety spot.  McCray has been first-team All-SAC each of the last two years as a return man and did earn first-team honors at safety with 78 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss.  If he improves as a tackler and shows the athleticism from his workouts on tape then he could be a real steal in the 7th round or as an undrafted free agent.

 

2. David Van Dyke, Tennessee State

Van Dyke had a solid carer but mostly lived in the shadows of others.  His senior season was his best and while he is athletic, runs well, has good hips, and is a solid tackler he didn’t quite take over games enough to earn the top spot.  He is one to watch who I believe will make a roster.  He can leap and runs 4.4s at 5’11, 196 pounds.  Expect him to be a priority free agent or 7th round pick.

 

3. Dewey McDonald, California PA

If you want a tackler with good ball skills then McDonald is your man.  He’s about a half step off from being the top safety in this class but his production (four-time All-Conference) and the fact he took three picks for touchdowns in 2013 makes him someone to really watch.  His tape was very good and you could possibly make him one or two on this list.  Expect him to make a roster as well.

 

4. Pierre Warren, Jacksonville State

This is where the drop off at safety happens in my mind as Warren is a pure free agent while the others could get drafted.  He was a solid tackler and showed ball skills but isn’t quite as athletic and has average hips.  Warren came out early and really needed one more year to develop because he has upside to be a solid late round pick but his grades got the best of him and he was forced out.  Expect him to be a priority free agent.

 

5. Steven Willis, Webber International

Willis was a relative unknown coming into the 2013 season but that all changed with 116 tackles, four picks, and six pass breakups to earn AFCA All-America honors.  He has good ball skills and is a solid tackler.  If he were a step faster and a little more athletic he would challenge to be #3 on this list.

 

OVERRATED: Pierre Warren, Jacksonville State

There is some media buzz he could get drafted but he’s an underclassmen who had to come out early and lacks the speed a combine snub would have to show to get drafted.  He’s a solid priority free agent but I don’t see him getting drafted despite some media buzz he will.

 

UNDERRATED: Dewey McDonald, California PA

Somehow McDonald has not been giving much respect but the productive D2 All-American safety runs pretty well and is very good against the run.  He also has good cover skills and should make a practice squad.

SLEEPER: David Van Dyke, Tennessee State

When looking for a possible late round or priority free agent who could really surprise keep an eye on Van Dyke.  He runs well (4.4) and probably should have been in a major all-star game.  There is a good chance he makes it somewhere in the NFL due to his ball skills and athleticism.

 

RISER: LJ McCray, Catawba

McCray was mostly given good reviews as a return man and while he still needs to improve on some skills you see on tape he is a very good athlete who would be an ideal practice squad candidate or be one of the last few to make a roster because of physical tools, athleticism, and ability to contribute on special teams.

 

FALLER: Lavelle Westbrooks, Georgia Southern

Westbrooks really opened eyes during the fall but he didn’t show too well in Mobile at the Senior Bowl and has ran 4.6 40s at the Combine and his pro day that could keep him from being drafted despite getting 5th-6th round grades from most during the fall, even with some teams believed to have given him 3rd or 4th round grades.  One of those teams who fell in love may still take him in the 6th or 7th round.

 

INTRIGUING: Kamaron Riley, MidAmerica Nazarene

It’s likely the NFL teams are the only people who knew who he was before his workouts but he’s gotten some internet buzz now and is one to watch.  Riley can play corner or safety at 6’1, 199 pounds with 4.4 speed.  Riley started his career at Abilene Christian but finished at Nazarene where he was a two-time first-team All-HAAC selection that shut down his side of the field in 2013.

 

SMALL SCHOOL DEFENSIVE BACK RANKINGS

 

CORNERBACKS
Pos Rank First Name Last Name School Round
1 Pierre Desir Lindenwood (MO) 3rd
2 Walter “Walt” Aikens Liberty 5th
3 Brandon Dixon Northwest Missouri State 6th-7th
4 Kendall James Maine 6th-7th
5 Lavelle Westbrooks Georgia Southern 7th-PFA
6 Dashaun Phillips Tarleton State PFA
7 Marcus Williams North Dakota State PFA
8 Ayodeji Olatoye North Carolina A&T PFA
9 Todd Washington Southeastern Louisiana PFA
10 Brian Dixon Northwest Missouri State PFA
11 Jaquavius “Qua” Cox Jackson State PFA
12 T.J. Lee III Eastern Washington PFA
13 Devin Wallace Virginia Union PFA
14 Tevrin Brandon Monmouth (NJ) FA
15 Jordan Love Towson FA
16 Malcolm Butler West Alabama FA
17 Winston Wright South Dakota State FA
18 Jack Howard Lane College FA
19 John Wilson Savannah State Tryout
20 Marquise “Bookie” Sneed Sam Houston State Tryout
21 Keith Lewis Virginia-Lynchburg Tryout
22 Joe Rankin Morgan State Tryout
23 Thomas Wolfe Fort Valley State Tryout
24 Jamill Lott Jacksonville State Tryout
25 Travis Hawkins Delaware Tryout
26 Jocquel Skinner Bethel (TN) Tryout
27 Anthony Goodwin Montana Tryout
28 Charaun “C.J.” Goodwin California PA Tryout
29 Antonio Marshall Miles College Tryout
30 Andre Carter Salisbury (NY) Tryout
31 Dominic Clarke Illinois State Tryout
32 Wayne Pettus Richmond Tryout
33 Tyler Davis Missouri Valley Tryout
34 Bryan Shepherd North Dakota State Tryout
35 James Jackson Edinboro Tryout
36 Anders Battle Northern Arizona Tryout
37 Tashawn Sneed Gannon Tryout
38 Justin Bell Ohio Dominican Tryout
39 Kadeem Wise Chattanooga Tryout
40 Randall Carroll Sul Ross State Tryout
41 Darnell Evans Shaw Tryout
42 Isaiah Ross Langston Tryout
43 LaDarius Hawthorne Coastal Carolina Tryout
44 Ronald Baines Eastern Washington Tryout
45 Ian Williams Fordham Tryout
46 Sybhrian Berry Missouri State Tryout
47 Bijon Samoodi Cal Poly Tryout
48 Guy Morgan McNeese State Tryout
49 Brian Owusu Harvard Tryout
50 Osagie Odiase Sacramento State Tryout
51 J’Vontez Blackmon Tennessee-Martin Tryout
52 Neiko Conway Midwestern State Tryout
53 Anthony Saunders Slippery Rock Tryout
54 Riyadh Richardson Concord (WV) Tryout
55 Virgil Williams Southern A&M Tryout
FREE SAFETIES
Pos Rank First Name Last Name School Round
1 David Van Dyke Tennessee State PFA
2 Dewey McDonald California PA PFA
3 Pierre Warren Jacksonville State PFA
4 Demetruce McNeal West Alabama PFA
5 Jerome Couplin III William & Mary PFA/FA
6 Tyree Mills Southern Utah FA
7 Dexter Moody Albany State (GA) FA
8 Nick Addison Bethune-Cookman FA
9 Courtney Bridget Hampton FA
10 Jarrid Bryant South Dakota FA
11 Marvin Robinson Ferris State FA
12 Brandon McCladdie The Citadel Tryout
13 Marcus Peters Central Arkansas Tryout
14 Ryan Bronson McNeese State Tryout
15 John Ojo Florida A&M Tryout
16 Erik Thompson Grand Valley State Tryout
17 D.J. Key Chattanooga Tryout
18 Oscar “Bert” White Northwestern State Tryout
19 Fred Gaines East Central Tryout
20 Jack Moro St. Cloud State Tryout
21 Drew Peterson Albright (PA) Tryout
22 Victor Johnson Northeastern State (OK) Tryout
23 Darnell Woods Concordia (NE) Tryout
24 Michael Green Lenoir-Rhyne Tryout
25 Kyle Sebetic Dayton Tryout
26 Curtis Slater West Texas A&M Tryout
27 Trelan Taylor Chadron State Tryout
28 Mike Ratelle Drake Tryout
29 Tyriq Kershaw Shippensburg Tryout
30 Dijon Washington Sacramento State Tryout
STRONG SAFETIES
Pos Rank First Name Last Name School Round
1 LJ McCray Catawba PFA
2 Steven Willis Webber International PFA
3 Deron Furr Fort Valley State PFA
4 Nicholas “Nick” Williams North Alabama FA
5 Kamaron Riley MidAmerica Nazarene (KS) FA
6 Jonathan Pillow Florida A&M FA
7 Cameron Loeffler Jackson State Tryout
8 Jestin Love Central Arkansas Tryout
9 Gregory “Greg” Worthy Furman Tryout
10 Garrett Waggoner Dartmouth Tryout
11 Jake DeMedal Saint Francis (PA) Tryout
12 Lucky Dozier Northern Arizona Tryout
13 Dustin Wharton Georgetown Tryout
14 Anthony Baskin Carson-Newman Tryout
15 Chris Poston Emporia State Tryout
16 Caleb Massey North Alabama Tryout
17 Tazmon Foster North Carolina Central Tryout
18 Shawn Krautzel West Chester Tryout
19 Marquis Bradley West Liberty Tryout
20 Carvin Johnson Hampton Tryout
21 Myer Nolan Lenoir-Rhyne Tryout
22 Rickie Hill Lehigh Tryout
23 Ezra Thompson Illinois State Tryout
24 Eryon Barnett Montana State Tryout
25 Logan Dosch Northern State (SD) Tryout