Top 10 Small-School Prospects in the 2013 NFL Draft

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Who are the 2013 NFL Draft's Top 10 Small-School Talents?

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Every year, several small-school talents find their way into the limelight with stellar college careers and phenomenal pre-draft workouts. Although many of them still miss their chance at hearing their names called during draft day, the few that do typically go on to make waves in the NFL.

This year, it shouldn’t be any different during the 2013 NFL Draft. There are several top-notch prospects with the talent to raise eyebrows of even the most stubborn scouts from around the league. The majority of them may come from the FCS, but there are a plethora of little-known players who deserve attention from NFL teams this upcoming April.

From high-flying wide receivers to shutdown cornerbacks, the 2013 small-school class offers up plenty of talent that should help the FCS prove that it churns out quality football players on a consistent basis. The NFL Draft is no longer a showcase of the top FBS talent.

The most important aspect of the FCS’ rise to prominence in the NFL Draft has been the exponential growth in the attention that’s been given to pre-draft festivities such as the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game. These games allow lesser-known players the opportunity to display their skills to a large-scale audience while playing against a higher level of competition. Hence, the recent rise in the number of small-school players being drafted.

Here’s a look at the top 10 small-school prospects heading into the 2013 NFL Draft and what they’ve done throughout their college careers to find themselves in a position to hear their names called come April.

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10. J.J. Wilcox, Strong Safety, Georgia Southern

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Wilcox was a late-bloomer for the Golden Eagles. Throughout his first three seasons at Georgia Southern, the 6’0’’, 215-pound safety was a non-factor out on the field. During his senior season, though, Wilcox burst onto the scene with an 88-tackle, two-interception performance. Wilcox plays bigger than his frame would indicate, making big hits on unsuspecting wide receivers and showing the aggressiveness that NFL teams want from the safety spot. He is one of those players that’s always in position to make an impact play.

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9. Keith Pough, Outside Linebacker, Howard

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You can’t find a small-school player that has a better first step than Pough, who has made a name for himself by getting into opposing backfields with ease throughout his college career. Using his relentless motor and work ethic, Pough has proven himself to be a consistent playmaker who uses his natural athleticism and instincts to be in the right spot at the right time. Although he has room to add some strength and bulk, the Howard hopeful has the competitive attitude that players need to make it in the NFL. Pough is raw, but there’s definitely enough potential present to deserve a late-round pick.

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8. Brent Russell, Defensive Tackle, Georgia Southern

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When you talk about dominant small-school defenders, Russell’s name simply has to be in the conversation. While watching film of this 6’2’’, 298-pound defensive tackle, you can’t help but notice that he finds his way into the backfield on almost every down. With an explosive get-off and plenty of power, Russell uses great technique to help him manhandle opposing blockers. To top it off, he has the speed to chase runners down from behind and has a relentless motor that means he’s never out of play. He’s a big fish in a small pond, but it’s promising to see how disruptive he is at the FCS level.

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7. Miguel Maysonet, Running Back, Stony Brook

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After racking up almost 2,000 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns in 2012, Maysonet has burst onto the national scene as one of the FCS’ most prolific runners as well as scorers. What really makes the Stony Brook product special, though, is his ability to be effective from anywhere on the field. Maysonet has the power to run between the tackles and the speed to make teams pay when he takes it outside. The biggest thing in making the transition to the NFL will be proving he can be an asset in the passing game. If he can take that next step, though, Maysonet will definitely be worth a mid-late round pick.

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6. Brad Sorensen, Quarterback, Southern Utah

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Possessing a rocket for an arm that you can’t find on most FBS quarterbacks, Sorensen has made a name for himself over the past few years as one of the best small-school passers in the land. His cannon isn’t the only thing that has NFL scouts drooling, though. Sorensen is a tremendous athlete who knows when to make plays with his feet, and doesn’t disappoint when he pulls it down. With prototypical quarterback size, outstanding arm strength and considerable accuracy, there’s no reason to believe that Sorensen won’t hear his name called at some point this upcoming April.

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5. Montori Hughes, Defensive Tackle, Tennessee-Martin

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When Hughes is on his game, he’s simply disruptive. Combining tremendous power and aggression, the Tennessee transfer has made the most of his move to the FCS and appears ready to make his mark at the NFL level. The only problem is whether or not teams can look past his muddled off-field history and see him for the football player that he’s capable of being. If Hughes can confirm to coaches and scouts that his character issues are a thing of the past, the UT-Martin star could easily find his way into the third or fourth round come April.

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4. B.W. Webb, Cornerback, William & Mary

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A three-year starter for the William & Mary Tribe, Webb has spent his entire college career climbing his way up draft boards with his consistent, dependable play. Displaying quickness, agility and terrific footwork, Webb has shown all of the qualities that NFL teams look for in a starting cornerback. Especially after his performance at the Senior Bowl, the 5’10’’, 183-pound cover man is proving that he can lineup all around the field and be competitive against top competition. Assuming he can continue to shine in pre-draft workouts, Webb will hear his name called in the middle rounds when the draft arrives.

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3. Aaron Mellette, Wide Receiver, Elon

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With Mellette, you get everything you could want out of a college wide receiver: size, hands and instincts. Measuring in at 6’4’’, 203 pounds, the Elon product enjoyed a whale of a season in 2011, skyrocketing his draft stock and demanding the attention of scouts everywhere. Although his 2012 campaign wasn’t as gaudy, Mellette still proved that he is one of the best small-school receivers heading into the 2013 NFL Draft. Mellette is always a threat to go the distance and shouldn’t have too much trouble earning the respect from NFL teams that he deserves before April rolls around.

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2. Robert Alford, Cornerback, Southeastern Louisiana

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Blessed with blistering speed and the instincts that NFL teams want from a shutdown cornerback, Alford has all of the physical and mental tools to become an impact player at the next level. To go with his impressive coverage skills, Alford also boasts terrific ball-hawking prowess that is complimented by soft hands and the ability to pull off spectacular catches. Although a bit undersized for the prototypical cornerback at 5’11’’, 186 pounds, the Southeastern Louisiana star has all of the necessary skills to be a mainstay in an NFL secondary.

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1. Da’Rick Rogers, Wide Receiver, Tennessee Tech

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Another talented Volunteer that was forced to retreat to the FCS due to off-field issues, Rogers has the potential to be an early-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, like many top prospects before him, he hasn’t managed to keep out of trouble. When he is on the field, though, Rogers is a touchdown waiting to happen. He put up terrific numbers for Tennessee before his career there came to an end, and appears ready to make the most of his opportunity. If he can impress coaches in pre-draft activities, don’t be surprised to see Rogers name popping up as a potential first-round pick.

Gil Alcaraz IV is a Network Manager/NFL featured columnist for Follow him on Twitter @GilAlcarazIV, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.