Top Small School Prospects

NFL’s Future takes a look at the top non-FBS prospects in the draft.

Ben Ijalana, T/G, Villanova

Ijalana answered questions about his health at his Pro Day.  He looked smooth in positional drills for a guy coming off double hernia surgery.  He has a wide, thick frame that would allow him to play either guard or tackle in the NFL.  He is an excellent athlete with exceptional lateral agility for a big man.  I look for Ijalana to come off the board in the mid second round.

Taiwan Jones, RB, Eastern Washington

Jones’ Pro Day is April 14th and will be viewed by tons of scouts.  Jones could be the fastest prospect in the draft.  He is a dynamic playmaker capable of taking the ball to the house on any play.  At 194 pounds and with a fairly significant injury history, some teams may shy away from him.  I look for Jones to surprise and come off the board somewhere in the 2nd due to his playmaking abilities.

Will Rackley, G, Lehigh

Rackley is an athletic prospect who is going to need to make the switch from tackle to guard in the NFL.  He has good size and maintains good hand placement inside the defender.  He keeps a good low, wide base that allows him to keep balance in pass protection.  Rackley’s combination of size and athleticism will intrigue a team in the late second round to take a chance on this small school prospect.

Kenrick Ellis, DT, Hampton 

Ellis is a mammoth man with surprising athleticism.  He is able to shed blocks with ease and get down the line in the run game.  He shows surprising explosion to get the quarterback.  He was a standout at the Texas vs. The Nation game, where he showed off his strength and athleticism.  The big question is whether he is over the maturity issues that led to his dismissal from South Carolina.  If scouts believe he is over those issues, they could take a chance on him in the late 2nd or early 3rd round.

Edmund Gates, WR, Abilene Christian

Gates is already drawing comparisons to former Abilene star, Johnny Knox.  Gates is a raw prospect with not a lot of experience on the football field.  He is already 25 but after his Combine performance, scouts may be willing to overlook his age.  Gates blazed the 40 in 4.37 and had a 40-inch vertical jump.  He also displayed above average hands and better route running than expected.  Despite being very green, Gates could come off the board in the early to mid 3rd round.

Justin Rogers, CB, Richmond

Admittingly, I have Rogers higher than most others.  Some have Buster Skrine higher than Rogers but I don’t see it.  On tape, Rogers is a compact, playmaker in every facet of the game.  He is a dynamic kick returner with great vision in the open field.  Rogers proved during the week of the East-West Shrine game he could compete with FBS receivers.  I look for Rogers to come off the board in the late 3rd or early 4th round.

Martin Parker, DT, Richmond

Parker earned MVP honors at the East-West Shrine game after a two sack performance.  He had a solid career at Richmond culminating in him earning All-American status in 2010.  Parker is not an elite pass rusher from inside.  However, he is capable of disrupting plays in the backfield and bull rushing lesser opponents in the lap of the quarterback.  Parker is a solid 4th round selection.

David Mims, T, Virginia Union

At 6-8 and 331 pounds, Mims is an impressive looking prospect.  Mims is quick off the ball and capable of burying defenders with his power.  He is strictly a RT candidate due to not having the necessary footwork to play on the left side.  Mims is a developmental guy worthy of a look in the 5th round.

Brandon Fusco, C, Slippery Rock

Fusco is as athletic as they come at the center position.  He pass blocks with good leverage and has solid awareness of blitzes.  He needs to improve his hand usage and footwork when engaging defenders but should be a solid center in the league.  Fusco could come off the board in the mid to late 5th round. 

Julius Thomas, TE, Portland State 

At almost 6-5 and 258 pounds, the former basketball player has prototypical size for an NFL tight end.   Thomas could wind up being one of the steals of this draft.  He looked natural and fluid in the positional drills at the Combine and displayed an elite athleticism for a player as raw on the football field.  Thomas is a developmental prospect that could make an impact after learning the position.  Thomas is likely a 5th round prospect but is capable of coming off the board earlier to a team willing to take a chance on someone this raw.  Big time upside with this guy.

Author: Brad

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