2013 NFL Draft: Top 10 Small School Prospects

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2013 NFL Draft: Top 10 Small School Prospects To Watch

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Small college players may be overlooked by NFL teams based purely on the level of competition they played against, but it’s no coincidence that some of the best organizations in the league draft good players from small colleges and find roles for them.

The players themselves may have talent worthy of being at an FBS school, but being too small coming out of high school, too old or carrying some off-field baggage brings them to a smaller stage.

With that lower level of competition, it’s hard to put a lot of stock in the pure numbers a player at a small school puts up, at least at positions where that is applicable and easily identifiable. It’s possible to zero in on games against better, FBS-level teams and draw conclusions based on good or bad performances in those contests, but that can itself be a slippery slope in terms of evaluating any small school player.

At the non-skill positions, particularly offensive and defensive lineman, small school players can be even harder to evaluate in terms of potential impact at the next level. Is the player dominating the competition because he has real, transferable NFL-level skills and talent? Or is he just a big fish in a small pond? Those questions can lead to teams deciding to draft a comparable player from an FBS school rather than take a risk on a small school prospect that may never make it.

The pre-draft All-Star games and the NFL Combine allow draft geeks to become familiar with players from smaller schools, while also providing a stage for those players to perform alongside players from more recognizable schools.

With that, here are my top 10 small school prospects to watch in the 2013 NFL Draft

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10. Brad Sorensen, QB, Southern Utah

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Sorensen has the size (6’5”, 229 lbs.) and arm strength NFL scouts drool over, and he holds multiple school records at Southern Utah. But he is over-aged after serving on a church mission in Spain, spending a season in junior college and spending three seasons at BYU. Sorensen could be a late-round pick in April based on his physical skills alone.

NFL Comparison: Brandon Weeden

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9. Robert Alford, CB, Southeastern Louisiana

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Alford is older than your average NFL Draft prospect after missing two seasons due to eligibility concerns and then a shoulder injury. But he has put together an outstanding showing during the pre-draft process, including a 4.39-second 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine. He may be able step right into a role as a nickel corner and return man and make an impact.

NFL Comparison: Corey Graham

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8. Miguel Maysonet, RB, Stony Brook

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Maysonet let the FCS in rushing yards per game in 2012 (156.5), while totaling 1,881 yards on the ground with 2,233 all-purpose yards and 23 touchdowns. He did not participate in drills at the NFL Combine due to a hamstring issue, but he turned heads with a 4.45-second 40-yard dash time at Stony Brook’s Pro Day.

NFL Comparison: Maurice Jones-Drew

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7. Keith Pough, LB, Howard

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Pough had a productive four-year run at Howard, totaling 349 tackles, including a FCS-record 72 tackles for loss. His stock was on the rise after an excellent week at the East-West Shrine Game, and even with some concerns about his athleticism and speed he may be able to find an immediate role on special teams in the NFL. Pough looks like an overachiever that will get the most out of his ability and could put together a long career.

NFL Comparison: Daryl Washington

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6. B.W. Webb, CB, William & Mary

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Webb had a good showing at the Senior Bowl by all accounts, and his natural talent as a cover man has the attention of NFL teams with the abundance of pass-happy offenses in the league. He was also a productive punt returner in college, earning Colonial Athletic Association Co-Special Teams Player of the Year honors as a senior.

NFL Comparison: Asante Samuel

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5. Jasper Collins, WR, Mount Union

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The success of past Mount Union wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Cecil Shorts puts Collins on the radar of NFL scouts, and he finished second to Shorts in school history in receptions with 232. Collins projects as a slot receiver and punt returner at the next level, and he should be productive in that niche if a team gives him a chance.

NFL Comparison: Lance Moore

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4. Aaron Mellette, WR, Elon

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Mellette’s production is hard to ignore, as he had 296 receptions for 4,137 yards and 42 touchdowns over his last three collegiate seasons, even if it came against low-level competition. His size is notable (6’3’, 216 lbs.), but he still has questions about his on-field speed even after registering a 4.54-second 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine. Teams that are looking for a big, reliable possession receiver can find a lot to like here.

NFL Comparison: Keyshawn Johnson

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3. David Bass, OLB, Missouri Western

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Bass was a disruptive force during his four seasons at Missouri Western, with 40.5 sacks and 56 tackles for loss. A good performance at the East-West Shrine Game when playing next to FBS prospects was a good sign for making a smooth transition to the next level, and with room to improve Bass could be a solid mid-round investment for a team looking to bolster their pass rush.

NFL Comparison: Terrell Suggs

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2. Da'Rick Rogers, WR, Tennessee Tech

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Rogers had a 1,000 yard season at Tennessee (67 receptions for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns) in 2011, but multiple failed drug tests led to him being dismissed from the team and transferring to Tennessee Tech, where he had 61 catches for 893 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. His measurables certainly have the attention of scouts after a good showing at the NFL Combine, and his overall skills make it possible he can step into a big role immediately. Rogers has real potential to be a draft steal if he falls based on his past issues.

NFL Comparison: Julio Jones

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1. Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas-Pine Bluff

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Armstead is rising up draft boards quickly right now, and if not for a fairly deep class of offensive tackles he would have a better chance of being a first-round pick. He ran the fastest 40-yard dash time (4.71 seconds) for an offensive lineman in the history of the NFL Combine, and followed that up with a good showing at his Pro Day. Armstead’s learning curve at the next level may be steep, but he has the potential to become a top NFL left tackle.

NFL Comparison: Joe Staley