In the 2012 NFL Draft, 22 players were selected who mad their names on the lower levels of football, including 3 (Brian Quick, Janoris Jenkins, Amini Silatolu) who went in the second round.
The guys on the lower levels usually get overlooked, but every year the talent pool gets deeper and better, and scouts don’t necessarily focus on the kids from the big schools anymore. Jared Allen, Miles Austin, Jahri Evans, and Cortland Finnegan are just a few who have found tremendous success in the NFL.
With the college football season right around the corner, and the beginning of breaking down prospects fro the 2013 NFL Draft, here is a list of 10 guys who dominate the competition on weekly basis, and should be suiting up on Sundays next season.
1. WR Aaron Mellette, Elon
-Mellette, the big framed WR from Elon, is the top FCS prospect this season. Comes into his senior season with 207 career catches and 26 TD’s. Mellette is further along than Appalachian State’s Brian Quick was at this time last season. Has great size and catches everything, but doesn’t take the top off of defenses. Mellette is very reliable and productive but isn’t necessarily flashy. Against Vanderbilt, Mellette finished with 11 catches and 180 yards. And while Vandy isn’t a top notch defense, they did finished this season 18th in pass defense. If he can carry over his production from last season into 2012, the 6’4 212 lbs sure handed WR will be a solid day 2 pick.
2. OT Mark Jackson, Glenville State
-Originally signed with the University of Illinois, Jackson plays with a mean streak and a beast in the run game. Very strong but also shows quick feet off the snap. Mirrors defenders well, and doesn’t get caught out of position. Technique isn’t great, but that can be corrected. Currently carries a 4th round grade, but expect to see a rise on the draft boards as the season continues.
3. QB Brad Sorenson, Southern Utah
-A former BYU Cougar, Sorenson has dominated at the lower levels. A multiple award winner for the Thunderbirds, Sorenson’s size, arm strength, and upside will garner plenty attention from NFL scouts. Sorenson was named a finalist for the Walter Payton Award after throwing for 3,142 yards and 17 TD’s.
4. CB B.W. Webb, William & Mary
-Webb is a very experienced savvy CB. He has recorded 11 career interceptions, and was named All-Conference as both a sophomore and junior. The 5’11 176 CB lacks speed and strength for the next level, but he plays with great technique and has a nose for the ball.
5. RB Washaun Ealy, Jacksonville State
-The highly recruited Ealey started at Georgia, but due to multiple off field problems was forced to transfer to Jacksonville St. He led the Gamecocks in rushing with 1,082 yards. Ealey has a great mix of power, speed, and strength that will intrigue teams in the middle to late rounds, that’s if he can keep his head on straight.
6. DE David Bass, Missouri Western State
-Bass has great experience and has produced tremendous results at Midwestern State. He has great measurable and looks like and NFL lineman. Last season, he broke a school record with 20 tackles for loss and registered 14.5 sacks. Bass has been named to multiple All-American teams and will be considered by NFL teams in April.
8. DT Brent Russell, Georgia Southern
-Russell has tremendous size and to put it simply, he causes problems for offensive lineman. He’s double-teamed on a consistent basis, and despite that, he finished 67 tackles and 16.5 tackles for loss. He’s not the most athletic DT prospect, but he has a quick first step off the ball. With NFL teams enamored by size and strength, Russell will get a great shot playing on Sundays.
7. S Rontez Miles, California (PA)
-Miles started off at Kent State then found himself at California (PA) via community college. Miles looks the part of NFL caliber SS and combines speed and strength. He’s equally strong in run defense as he is in pass protection. Finished with 5 interceptions last season and 20.5 tackles for loss in his career. Miles earned severl All-American honors last season.
6. DT Brandon Williams, Missouri Southern
-Williams has been named twice to the “Little” AP-All American team. He’s a hulking 6’3 325 lb NT who plays in the backfield. Last season he finished with 35 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 8 sacks while facing consistent double-teams and teams simply running away from his direction. Regardless of completion, Williams is a dominant lineman who should hear his name called in April.
10. S Malcolm Bronson, McNeese State
-Bronson was McNeese State leading tackler as a freshman and was the conference Freshman of the Year. He has solid speed and size, and is a great open field tackler. Outperformed former Tennessee Vols transfer Janzen Jackson for the Cowboys last season en route to leading the team in tackles and earning All-Southland first team honors.
Others to Watch: RB Jamaine Cook (Youngstown State), WR Nicolas Edwards (Eastern Washington), OT Patrick Ford (Eastern Kentucky), DE Willie Jefferson (Sam Houston State),DE Ben Obaseki (Indiana State), OLB Keith Pough (Howard), FS Kejuan Riley (Alabama State), WR Roderick Rumble (Idaho State), CB Daxton Swanson (Sam Houston State), FS Rod Woodson (North Alabama)
Jeremy Cabler covers the NFL Draft and College Football for Rant Sports. Check out his Scouting Reports