Every year in the NFL Draft, there are guys who are selected in the draft that are complete unknown. It is the franchise scout's job to search for talent to add to their respect roster through all aspects. If the scout feels the small school guy fits their system then they will take the risk. There are pros and cons with drafting a small school prospect and it just depends on what the franchise is looking for in the draft.
The first issue that comes to mind is that since is the players, went to a small school, Therefore, they did not face top talent like in the larger schools. Which gives these players a disadvantage since they simply do not take on top talent players in their college career.
But they are outstanding players in their own right certainly against the competition in front of them and this could present these players with the right pathway to the NFL.
Who knows one these guys could make the headlines NFL?
More of the small school players play in the FCS, which is obviously not as competitive as the FBS. The main influence on players deciding to play for smaller schools is the lack of playing time. Most of the FCS prospects are transfer students. It's a place for under the radar players to make a name for themselves. Without further delay, here is my list of the top five 2014 Small School NFL Draft Prospects:
1. QB, Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois
When you see the stats Garoppolo put up in 2013, you would think he was competing with Peyton Manning. The 6'2, 220 pound quarterback puts together one of the best seasons of any quarterback in college football history. After throwing for a phenomenal 5050 yards, 53 touchdowns, and withholding a 66% completion rate, Garoppolo has more than likely risen his stock higher than any other small school prospect in history. Most NFL Draft experts project him to be taken in the second or third round so it will be intriguing to see where he ends up.
2. RB, Tim Flanders, Sam Houston State
A transfer from Kansas State, Flanders caught the eyes of all of the scouts in his sensational performance in mid December versus Texas A&M. In that game, Flanders rushed for 170 yards, rushed for two touchdowns, and also adding a receiving touchdown in the loss. Although his stats have gone down since his breakout year in 2011 in which he rushed for 1,644 yards and 22 touchdowns, Flanders still shows his 1,000 yards rushing capabilities. In 2013, he rushed for 1,430 yards and 14 touchdowns. Flanders is another small school guy who could be taken off in the second or third round.
3. LB, Jordan Tripp, Montana
Jordan Tripp at 6'2 235 pounds, has a combination of tremendous size, speed, and tenacity that any team could use at linebacker. The desire Tripp shows could end up making him a potential steal of the draft. More than likely, Tripp ends up in a 3-4 defense as an outside linebacker. If the right team scoops, this guy up, then they may have future star linebacker on their hands he just has that much potential.
4.DB, Kendall James, Maine
Although James isn't as big as teams may want in a defensive back at 5'11 and 175 pounds. James does have enough speed and coverage skills to make up for his lack of size. Since he doesn't have the size to be a safety, then by default he is a cornerback. After running a 4.35 40 yard dash, and noticeably having great coverage skills, James has the ability to cover receivers closely and could possibly be an NFL leader in interceptions.
5. OT, Daniel Kistler, Montana
Kistler has tremendous size at 6'8 315 pounds and long arms. Some scouts were saying he doesn't have enough quickness in his feet to be a left tackle. Don't be surprised though, if someone reaches early in the second round for this guy to make him a second or third round pick as a guard which is highly possible or possibly even at right tackle.
Small School prospects are becoming a high commodity in today's NFL which makes it so much better to watch. In reality, this is what makes the game of football so watchable. The parity is as good as it can possibly get and most of that reason is because of the draft. It will be exciting to see where not only just these guys, but where all of the small school players end up playing to pursue their dream to play football.
Written by: Dedrick Hendrix
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