By College Football Analyst Josh Buchanan for TonySoftli.Com
These prospects have either been invited to major all-star games, the NFL Combine, or gotten a lot more attention than their tape proves worthy.
- DE LYNDEN TRAIL, NORFOLK STATE
The grades on him are inconsistent with some teams grading Trail as high as the 3rd or 4th round but there are some with him in the late rounds as well. Trail was a dominant player at Norfolk State because of his size, length, and versatility but his true value is lower than the media hype. Regardless of where he is drafted, he is a rigid runner who lacks the hips to drop into coverage and isn’t quick twitch or fast so he probably won’t be as versatile in the pros as he was in college. His best position is a 3-4 defensive end with his hand on the ground but he lacks the flexion and twitch to be more than an average NFL player. Maybe he is a top 100 pick but I just don’t see that much value in him. He’s a late rounder for me and combined with buzz that he is already buying cars and spending money before he makes it, you have to wonder if he will be able to handle the NFL life. Norfolk State’s pro day was not too good to him either because scouts were frustrated with the fact he did not want to redo some of the bad tests from the NFL Combine and he rubbed scouts the wrong way. He reminds me of Furman corner Ryan Steed who saw his stock plummet from the 3rd-4th round to undrafted and a fringe roster guy with a short career.
- OB EDMOND ROBINSON, NEWBERRY
Robinson is the ideal NFL prospect when he gets off the buzz and in workouts at the NFL Combine but his college tape was not so impressive. Despite the size at over 6’2, 242 pounds and 4.5 speed with vines for arms and explosion he is more of an athlete than football player. To be fair he played out of position at Newberry as they dropped him in coverage more and did not allow him to blitz or really be aggressive with using his physical talents to wreak havoc in backfields but he also was not aggressive either. There are times on tape where you can’t find him as well and then he flashes for a series or a couple plays. His grades are all over the board more than any other player as some scouts have him in the 3rd or 4th round because of the upside and tools but there are also teams with a free agent grade on him. I would take him in the late rounds as a developmental player but he is not very active, lacks physicality, and doesn’t have the killer instinct needed to be a NFL linebacker. The test freak only had 68 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, and 5 pass breakups as a senior, which are pedestrian numbers for someone with his ability. There are a lot of questions on Robinson and while his tape does not justify getting drafted, the feeling around the NFL is that someone will possibly over draft him because they will believe that a future NFL star is in him and just needs to be coached up.
- DE/OB ZACH HODGES, HARVARD
Entering 2014 there were some who had Hodges as a 2nd or 3rd round pick and even some scouts pushed him into the mid rounds because of his length, quickness, and ability as a pass rusher. Hodges impressed me as a pass rusher but lacks technique (mainly a one trick pony), has injury concerns, has poor strength, and struggles against the run. There are times on tape when he is pancaked when engaged with a blocker. The All-American was inconsistent and partly received honors as a senior due to his reputation. He suffered a bone bruise in his knee at the Senior Bowl and could not workout at his pro day. He is worth a late round pick but concerns of his health, lacking ability against the run, and some concerns over some possible psychological issues may cause him to drop further than people think.
- NT CHARLES TUAAU, TEXAS A&M COMMERCE
At 6’4, 328 pounds Tuaau is a big man and someone who had a lot of buzz entering 2014 after an All-American breakout season in 2013 coming from junior college. The NFL scouts did not have him quite as high as the media all along as many had a priority free agent or camp grade on him. The 2013 postseason and 2014 regular season were not kind to him. Charlie started by rubbing scouts the wrong way at his pro day proclaiming he is a 2nd or 3rd round pick and does not need to test for them, not a smart move considering the junior pro day is the first look a small school prospect gets. He then went on to post underwhelming numbers as a senior with just 25 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks. While he has strength and can’t be moved he is a very soft motor guy who is stiff, rarely chases, and even was seen getting put on the ground against D3 competition. There is very little fire he has shown in college and scouts are questioning whether he will truly want it once in the NFL. He probably won’t get drafted and if not don’t expect more than 3 or 4 teams to show interest.
- QB CHRIS BONNER, CSU-PUEBLO
This is one of the more interesting overrated names because he put up an impressive junior season. He threw for 3,413 yards with a 33-9 ratio and was the RMAC Offensive Player of the Year. Most scouts saw him as a tryout type player coming into his senior season but some thought he had enough arm strength and loved the size at 6’6, 235 plus pounds. Bonner failed to earn any postseason awards from the RMAC as a senior and was very average in the Medal of Honor Bowl. He isn’t very mobile and is stiff. When someone that big can’t bend or run and is very erratic as a passer you expect a free agent who would be a practice squad player, at best. Most NFL teams see him as a camp body lacking the athleticism to make it in today’s game.
10 UNDERRATED/UNDER THE RADAR SMALL SCHOOLERS
The true definition of an under the radar prospect to me is someone who was not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, Senior Bowl, NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, East-West Shrine Game, or Medal of Honor Bowl. These players are not rated highly by even most around the NFL until after the season was over.
Here are 5 players worth remembering the name even though most did not give them any attention during the postseason.
- DT RODNEY GUNTER, DELAWARE STATE
It’s not often you find a draftable small school prospect who was snubbed by every all-star game and the NFL Combine but it appears as though it happened this year. Gunter is a big body at 6’4 3/8, 298 pounds and it appeared as though the teams who had him in the late rounds trying to hide him did a pretty good job since Gunter was not as productive as you would expect a player from the MEAC to be. It all fell apart at his pro day where he ran a 5.00 40 and impressed in position drills. While he lacks great strength and technique he has a lot of upside and moves very well for his size. With his upside it would not be a surprise to see him go in the 7th round to a 3-4 or 4-3 team.
- SS GORDON HILL, SACRED HEART
Hill is a name who did not get a ton of buzz and was somehow overlooked by all the all-star games and NFL Combine. While he played a hybrid position kind of he is more of an active safety who can tackle and runs well. At the pro day for Tyler Varga he was impressive measuring in at 5’11, 212 pounds and running in the 4.6s. As a tw-o-time first-team All-NEC selection he showed he can tackles and is very active. He doesn’t make a ton of plays in coverage but has done so along with running sideline to sideline and shooting down in the box to make plays. Ideally he is a priority free agent, but he had 5 visits late in the process and could very well be drafted in the final 50 picks.
- WR ADRIAN COXSON, STONY BROOK
Some may forget but Coxson was a four-star Florida transfer who originally was recruited by Urban Meyer. Coxson got lost in the shuffle a bit and was passed on by the major all-star games but his postseason has been quite impressive. He ran in the 4.4s at his pro day and his senior film was better than his numbers indicate. Catching a short pass and stretching it for a big gain was something he did well and was rarely, if ever, caught from behind once in the open field. There is a possibility he will sneak into the late rounds. If he does not, he is going to be a very good priority free agent who can make a roster.
- WO NEAL STERLING, MONMOUTH
The NFL is always looking for big body receivers with body control, good hands, and strength to be a possession target and Sterling is just that. At 6’3 3/8, 238 pounds he ran a 4.62 40 at his pro day and while he had a couple drops in position drills he showed a big, smooth athlete who moves well at his size. It was a shock that he was snubbed from the top 4 all-star games and the NFL Combine and somehow did not get much attention by the media during the fall. Sterling had NFL teams showing major interest during the fall with many scouts putting late round grades on him but he makes this list due to all the postseason snubs. Keep an eye on him starting in the 6th and 7th rounds. If not drafted, he will be signed quickly as a priority free agent and has a good shot to make a 53 man or practice squad roster.
- OB/DE DARIUS ALLEN, CSU-PUEBLO
It would be a surprised if Allen is drafted after weighing in at 229 pounds most recently in the pre-draft process but he is a solid athlete who can stand up and be a good pass rusher. Allen is a two-time Gene Upshaw Award winner and someone to keep an eye on if he is not drafted. It’s hard to find productive players with proven experience at end and linebacker, which he brings. As a senior he had 72 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 15.5 sacks, and 5 forced fumbles. He is a priority free agent projection.
- DE/OB SAGE HAROLD, JAMES MADISON
Harold should probably rate higher than Allen on this list and would have if not for just being a one-year production guy. If his jumps were better at the pro day he would be a projected draft pick but at 6’3, 242 pounds he is athletic, running in the 4.6s at his pro day. Harold went from a backup who flashed to a productive end with 23.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks as a senior. He should make a good free agent pickup as an outside linebacker.
- TE JAMES O’SHAUGHNESSY, ILLINOIS STATE
The Illinois State Redbird was a late push up the board because of his pro day and the fact teams got a good look at the late round playoff games, particularly the final two rounds. He is a beast on kickoff team and has the speed and size to be a solid pass catching threat. At 6’4, 244 pounds he runs in the 4.6s, which is hard to find, and has good hands. His pro day with a 35 inch vertical, 4.68 40, and 9’8 broad jump gives him a chance to be taken in the 7th round.
- TE HAROLD SPEARS, NEW HAMPSHIRE
Spears had buzz in the fall but surprisingly no all-star game took the three-time All-CAA selection. Spears has good hands and runs pretty well. At just 6’3 ¾, 251 pounds he likely won’t get drafted but his route running, hands, and toughness to block will make him an attractive free agent pickup.
- ILB NICK DZUBNAR, CAL POLY
You won’t find many more productive linebackers from 2014 than Dzubnar. There are tapes I watched where he was literally making the tackle or effected the play 5 or 6 times in a row. He was one of the most active players I saw on tape, including FBS players. While lacking the pop on tape that makes you feel like he is a definite draft pick he is a player who showed good athleticism at the pro day and is a good tackler who doesn’t miss much. He finished with 167 tackles and 9.5 tackles during the season and then capped off his All-American campaign with a 4.67-4.72 40 and 34 inch vertical to highlight his pro day at 6’1, 241 pounds. If not taken late he will be a highly sought after priority free agent pickup.
- CB TRAY WALKER, TEXAS SOUTHERN
Walker isn’t as high on my personal board but there is buzz he may get drafted. When a corner is 6’2, runs 4.5s and has visits and workouts many people project they will get drafted but I believe Walker is taking visits because of some off the field concerns. Even some scouts who were higher on him during the fall have backed off. His tackling is pretty good but he gave up a lot of passes in the SWAC and didn’t always play with effort. The draftable talent is there but he doesn’t play like a draft pick very often, and has some concerns. General rule of note is that a stud talent from Florida doesn’t attend FCS schools in Texas when there are so many FBS programs in Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi who would probably give that player a chance. He carries a free agent projection from JBS despite some draft media buzzing him as a 6th or 7th round pick.
HONORABLE MENTION: SS Harold Jones-Quartey, Findlay (OH); TE Will Tye, Stony Brook; WR Darius Davis, Henderson State, DE Matt Longacre, Northwest Missouri State, WR Tyrell Williams, Western Oregon; TE Brian Parker, Albany (NY); ILB Alex Singleton, Montana State; DE/LB Julian Howsare, Clarion; WR Ify Umodu, Northern Arizona; OLB Cameron Ontko, Cal Poly; WR Michael Johnson, Delaware; OT Doniel Gambrell Jr., Notre Dame College; OLB Carlton Littlejohn, North Dakota State; OLB LeBranden Richardson, Bethune-Cookman; OLB Marke Powell, Winston-Salem State.
SMALL SCHOOL ALL-COMBINE SNUB/ALL-STAR SNUB TEAM
This list is my starting lineup of players who were not invited to the Senior Bowl, NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, East-West Shrine Game, Medal of Honor Bowl, Gridiron Showcase or the NFL Scouting Combine.
|Pos||First Name||Last Name||School||HT||WT|
|Pos||First Name||Last Name||School||HT||WT|
|DE||Mike||Reilly||William & Mary||6’3||261|
|Pos||First Name||Last Name||School||HT||WT|