NFL Prospects – FCS & DII Draft Prospect Report
By Taber Small
Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo and Towson RB Terrance West were finalists for Walter Payton award as the top overall player in FCS level. Here are some standouts from Non-FBS Schools that are on the radar of NFL scouts.
Garoppolo participated in the Senior Bowl and East West Shrine game and impressed in both. He has the quickest release of any quarterback coming out for this year's draft. His accuracy, size at (6-3/222) and play in all-star games has really helped him rise up draft boards and is pojection to go between the 2nd to 3rd Round.
Towson running back Terrance West led all of college football with 2,509 rushing yards and 42 TD's. He had a good combine performance weighing in at 225-pounds then running 4.54 40 and displaying 10-foot-0 broad jump. Possesses a nice combination of speed, power, and quickness for a back his size. He is a patient runner who waits for the play to develop in front of him then hits the hole with a quick burst of speed and acceleration. West runs with tremendous instincts, vision and surprising elusiveness.
Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton (6-2/305): is an athletic and explosive lineman who plays with a relentless motor. He impressed scouts with his quickness and instincts. He recorded two sacks in the game and performed well during the week. Reid solidified himself as a middle round prospect and has the potential to be a NFL starter.
Liberty CB Walt Aikens is an Illinois transfer that captivated the interest of scouts at the Senior Bowl with his size (6-1/205) and athleticism. He was a surprise NFL combine snub that took full advantage of his pro day running mid 4.4's and jumping 35-inches in the vertical. Aikens looked smooth and fluid in positional drills impressing teams with his versatility to play on the outside or in the slot. He's a late round prospect that could sneak into the middle rounds.
Small School receiver prospect Jeff Janis from Saginaw Valley State is a player to watch because of his great blend of size (6-3/219) and speed (4.3-40). He jumped on to the radar of NFL teams with a very impressive combine workout is a bonafide day three prospect.
Jeff Matthews, QB Cornell (6-3/225): This pocket passer has the ideal size and arm strength. He has been inconsistent as a senior after coming into the season with a decent grade from scouts. Matthews needs to further develop his footwork, accuracy and decision-making.
Kadeem Edwards, OT Tennessee State (6-3/320): the small school interior offensive lineman definitely stood out at the Senior Bowl and was a pleasant surprise for scouts. Edwards has good size at (6-4/320) and the athleticism to pull on screens, traps and power plays. He shows good technique and awareness in both aspects of his game. Edwards was a late round prospect entering the Senior Bowl but his status is on the rise because of his good showing during the week.
Karim Barton, OG Morgan State (6-3/315): Barton was an unknown prospect coming into the season and intrigued scouts at the NFLPA All-Star game with his quickness, upper body strength and hand placement. He is an ideal fit as a center or guard. Barton is a sleeper prospect to watch as he raised his level of play against better competition during the week.
Dustin Vaughn, QB West Texas A&M (6-5/234): He is a tall quarterback prospect with a good frame. Vaughn led D-II in both passing yards 5,401 yards and TDs with 53. He opened the eyes of scouts with the arm strength and zip he puts on passes at the NFLPA All-Star Game. Vaughn is a free-agent QB prospect that could make a big climb up draft boards if he impresses at his pro day.
Jerick McKinnon*, RB Georgia Southern (5-9/206): McKinnon played QB at Georgia Southern and proved to be a versatile athlete. This year’s version of Dennard Robinson will need to make the transition to RB in the NFL. He received an invite to Senior Bowl where he displayed great quickness, speed and instincts. He created the most buzz at the combine from scouts and led all running backs in just about every category with 32 bench reps, 4.41 40, 40-1/2 vertical and 11-foot-0 broad jump. This type of performance most likely elevated him from a late-round pick to now being selected as a middle-round pick.
Tim Flanders, RB Sam Houston State (5-9/212): The Kansas State transfer has put up big numbers for the Bearkats. Flanders is a short back with impressive vision, quickness and cutting ability. He is a late round prospect that reminds me a lot of Bobby Rainey with the Buccaneers.
Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB Coastal Carolina (6-1/230): A big bruising running back with NFL size that wears down defenses is the best way to describe this gridiron terror. Taliaferro was the 2013 Big South Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for 1,487 yards and 27 TDs. He brings value as a short yardage and backup running back at the next level.
Joe Don Duncan, TE Dixie State (6-3/267): Duncan is a run blocking TE with great size. He doesn’t have the speed to stretch defenses deep but is a threat in the red zone. Duncan is a middle round prospect that has a chance to start right away for a NFL team.
A.C. Leonard, TE, Tennessee State (6-3/245): The Florida transfer is an athletically talented junior who has decided to enter the 2014 NFL Draft. He needs to add more bulk to his frame and improve as a blocker. Leonard is a threat in the passing game showing soft hands and precise route running. He surprisingly stole the show running a 4.50 40 and was tied for the lead in broad jump with 10-foot-7. Leonard is a Florida transfer who has battled some off the field situations as well and needs to improve as blocker.
Billy Turner, OT North Dakota State (6-5/310): Turner is a mauler offensive lineman with great length and size for the tackle position. He is better suited for right tackle and will need some time to develop into a quality starter.
Kendall James, CB Maine (5-10/176): James is a small CB with great athleticism and speed. He has intrigued scouts with his coverage skills and smarts. James is a perfect fit as a nickel corner that can cover quick and fast receivers out of the slot. I wouldn’t be surprised if a team selects him late in the draft as he is a sleeper cornerback who I have liked on film all season. He tested great at the combine running high 4.3 to low 4.4 and jumped a 39-inch vertical with a strained hamstring.
Stephon Robertson, LB James Madison (5-11/228): He is an undersized and instinctive LB with good range and short area speed. Robertson was the CAA Defensive Player of the Year that made plays all year for the Dukes. He is not a blazer and his size is a concern for scouts. Robertson needs to land with a NFL team that runs a 4-3 allowing him to roam free in traffic from the weak side. He will need to make an early impact on special teams to stay in the league.
Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood (6-1/205): Desir is a talented and athletic cornerback with great size and ball skills. He’s physical and makes it difficult for receivers to release off the line of scrimmage. Desir has smooth hips but scouts would like to see him improve his backpedal as well as show more speed when covering receivers down field on deep passes. He is currently a middle round prospect that could elevate himself into a top 75 pick for 2014 NFL Draft.
Howard Jones, CB, Shepherd (6-2/234): Jones is an athletic LB with great size and speed numbers. He is versatile enough to play on the strong or weak side of a 4-3 or 3-4 defense. Scouts like his toughness and ability to run sideline to sideline. Jones is a late round prospect that will probably spend some time on the practice squad giving him time to adjust to the NFL game.
Larry Webster, DE, Bloomsburg (6-6/240): Webster is an undersized college defensive end with an explosive first step. He is extremely fluid and smoothly changes directions. He shows quick and nimble feet and is very explosive in pursuit of the ball. Webster has great pedigree, as his father Larry Sr. was a solid defensive lineman in the NFL for a good number of years. Scouts are aware that his technique needs work but are excited about his potential as a pass-rushing specialist in the NFL.
Brown RB John Spooney was the 2013 Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year and declared early for the draft. His exceptional speed and quickness have some scouts thinking he could possibly transition to slot receiver and kick returner at the next level. He's a dangerous and explosive open field runner with natural pass catching skills. Spooney ran well at his pro day last week with high 4.3s. He also put up 24 bench press reps demonstrating great upper body strength for his size (5-11/190). Spooney is a prospect that could turn into a late round steal if teams find a unique way to utilize his skills.
Northern Arizona RB Zach Bauman is a short small school back that has an impressive college resume. He impressed at the East-West Shrine Game and was a combine snub. Scouts are hoping he displays the speed and quickness he showed in the all-star game and throughout his career.
Jackson State SS Cameron Loeffler is a run defending in-the-box safety with good size (6-1/212).
Jackson State WR Zachary Pendleton is a big play receiver who averaged 20 yards per catch in 2013. He possesses good size (6-3 200), speed and hands. Pendleton must put up good numbers at Pro Day for scouts to really take a good look at him.
Alabama State RB Isaiah Cromwell is the former SEC Freshman of the year and UGA transfer performed well at the Combine running in the low 4.5's, 23 BP reps,
Alcorn State RB Arnold Walker was the 2013 SWAC Offensive Player of the year is an underrated back with NFL size at 5-foot-11, 227-pounds. He doesn't get the publicity that Cromwell receives, but is similar in talent. Walker breaks tackles and runs with good vision, balance and quickness. He led the conference with 1,191 yards and 16 TD's.