College football players who enter the 2014 NFL Draft after playing for “small schools” should not be underestimated. Who thought Ben Roethlisberger out of Miami (Oh.) and Joe Flacco out of Delaware would have any success at all? They certainly had the last laugh as Roethlisberger claimed two Super Bowl (over Seattle in 2006 and Arizona in 2009) and Flacco led his team over the San Francisco 49ers in 2013.
The big talk will still be centered on Johnny Manziel, Jadeveon Clowney, Sammy Watkins and several other top players from the more prominent universities. Khalil Mack is getting a lot of respect and he played for Buffalo. How many big time players enter the draft out of Buffalo?
There are a few small school prospects that NFL Fans should know about. One relatively unknown prospect is Billy Turner, offensive tackle out North Dakota State. Turner is projected to be drafted in the second or third round. According to the scouting report, Turner is able to use his feet to shuffle quickly, has excellent coordination and can generate power from his upper body.
John Brown is another name all fans should pay attention to. Brown played for Pittsburgh State, another small school but his 40-yard dash time of 4.34 seconds speaks volumes about his ability to burn defenders. It was third best time at the combine for receivers.
Running back Dri Archer, proved once again that Kent State knows all about speed as the former Golden Flash had the top 40-yard dash time with a time of 4.26 seconds. Josh Cribbs, another Kent State product, was also known for his speed. Archer nearly broke Chris Johnson’s record of 4.24 seconds. Johnson was also the product of a small school as he played for the East Carolina Pirates.
Brandon Dixon, corner back out of Northwest Missouri State, can give Offensive Coordinators sleepless nights. While most of the attention is focused on Justin Gilbert, Darquize Dennard, and Luchiez Purifoye, Dixon is worth taking a look at. He is tough and durable, works quick on his feet. He is a great long-term solution at corner back. Dixon limited the production of another outstanding 2014 draft prospect, Jeff Janis.
Janis, the wide receiver out of Saginaw Valley State, was the two-time Great Lakes Intercollegiate Offensive Back of the year. He has excellent leaping ability so making circus catches will not be a problem for him. In 2013, he caught 83 passes for 1,572 yards and 14 touchdowns.
When fans see their team drafting a player from a small school, they may be tempted to yell and scream at the television in absolute disgust. However, these players have a lot to bring to the table. The 2014 NFL Draft may produce a few sleepers with tremendous upside.
The teams that snatch these players up are positioning themselves to build a winning team.