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Top Small College Prospects - 'The Dirty Dozen'

Small College Prospects for the NFL Draft 2010

Photo - Vladimir Ducasse - UMass

'The Dirty Dozen' - Top 12 Small College Players

Every NFL club scouts the nation in hopes of landing the next great sleeper prospect in the NFL Draft. The small college ranks has supplied many NFL Hall of Fame prospects over the past fifty years with a litany of stars like receiver Jerry Rice, running back Walter Payton and QBs Tony Romo and Doug Williams from the Grambling and Jackson St. programs across the nation. This year's class will produce several players in the top 100 picks. There should be as many as 20-25 draft selections over seven rounds. It is an interesting group with several blue chip prospects mainly along the offensive line and in the secondary. This year’s group of small college pro prospects ranks among the better classes of the past decade and is especially deep at offensive tackle. The highest rated small college prospect is LB OL Vladimir Ducasse who completed an excellent postseason after a fine stay at UMass. Defensive back Akwasi Owusu-Ansah of Indiana (Pa) carries an NFL starting grade after a strong college career. He ranks among the top defenders from the lower level in recent drafts. The secondary and offensive should provide many draft selections overall in the NFL Draft 2010 once again and the small college ranks should be well represented over the three days. Both the offensive and defensive lines will supply NFL starters while the wide receiver position may provide a few highly regarded prospects.

Note: In recent years, our highest rated small college players were QB Joe Flacco and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and both were chosen in the first round. Each has performed brilliantly over their early careers and key performers in their clubs strong annual playoff berths.

The Dirty Dozen - Top 12 Small College Players For the NFL Draft

1. Vladimir Ducasse - OT - UMass
Big mobile lineman completed an excellent small college career starting at left tackle over his late career. He projects to both tackle and guard with an early starting grade on the inside. He has shown all the necessary physical tools to develop into an NFL starter and is a good athlete with fine footwork and athletic ability. He can be one of the real gems in this class and is similar to the Saints OG Jahri Evans who I loved coming out for the NFL Draft ’06. He is our #1 small college prospect with the talent to start, but needs vital time to settle into a system and position. Within a short time, he could be the biggest bargain in this class on the middle rounds.

2. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah - CB - Indiana (Pa)
Fast athletically gifted small college defensive back had a tremendous postseason that has elevated his stock into the early rounds. He had an impressive performance at the NFL Combine that moved him into the top 100 prospects. He carries an NFL starting grade at cornerback off his fine measurables, skills set and fine postseason efforts. He probably plays in the nickel package early in his career with incredible upside as a starting corner. Blue chip small college corner and an excellent return specialist who should win those roles immediately in his career.

3. Austin Lane - DE - Murray St (Ky)
Tall angular mobile lineman was a dominating performer against a lower level of competition. Though he was not really tested at the lower level, he performed well vs top competition and grades a middle round grade for the NFL Draft. He showed some promising skills with long arms, good footwork, size, bulk and overall strength. He showed the ability to stack with the burst to get into the backfield or chase to the perimeter. He also played outside at end and could project to the strongside spot in both schemes and maybe best suited for the three-man front. He looks like a solid two-way defender at end in 3-4 scheme.

4. Jared Veldheer - OT - Hillsdale (Mi.)
Huge left tackle prospect had a strong finish to his career that earned him honors annually. Jared is a long armed mobile tackle who opened some eyes over the latter part of his career. He is a legit starting tackle prospect with tremendous size, reach, height, footwork and mobility. He usually plays with sound technique in many aspect of play and is one of the biggest sleepers in this class. He could become a real gem in the right situation with further development and refinement of his excellent physical package and skill set. Major sleeper with the talent to become a starting pro tackle with further development and critical time to refine his skill set.

5. Andre Roberts - WR - Citadel (S.C.)
Fast agile small college receiver had an impressive postseason that has him moving up the rankings. At the NFL Combine, he checked in at just under 5’11” and 195 lbs and ran a fast 4.46 time with a 36” VL and a 10' BJ in a fine workout in addition to a good effort at the Senior Bowl that a small college prospect needs to impress scouts. He has shown the separation speed to get behind the secondary and make the big play. He displays very good hands, fine body control to track and adjust to the ball in flight and has been able to get deep and hit the home. Athlete with an excellent combination of size, speed and receiving skills to be a huge surprise in the right offense and fine middle round pick with intriguing upside.

6. Jeromy Miles - S - UMass
Talented small college defensive back completed an outstanding career at the lower level earning CAA honors since his sophomore season. Jeromy is a fine athlete who was a dominant performer at his level of competition making plays in coverage with his speed, quickness and instincts. He has good measureables including size, speed and toughness for the position. He has the skill set to develop further but needs to settle into a defense that allows him to learn a system and more sophisticated coverage vs pro style passing games. He may need some time but could be a huge surprise after settling into a pro scheme. Top-flight special teams defender.

7. Arthur Moats - LB - James Madison (Va.)
Quick rangy senior defender had another strong performance for the tough JM program that earned him first team CAA honors. He has the size, speed, instincts and toughness to convert to the backer role in the 3-4 scheme. He has established himself as a pro prospect using his fine functional strength and quick hands to perform well in both pass and run defense with the ability to hold the point of attack and chase in pursuit. He is one of the better physical specimens among edge rushers in this class with long arms to go with his good speed and fine functional strength. He has the athletic and mental aptitude to make the adjustment up as an attack linebacker and maybe sooner than most think. He has the skill set to be a huge surprise and start fairly soon in his career and be a factor off the edge.

8. James Ruffin - DE - Northern Iowa
Rangy athletic defender completed an impressive finish to his career with a strong performance. He is one of the real hidden gems in this class after a strong career that drew attention from scouts after seeing his fine triangle numbers. He has been timed in sub 4.6 time that would rank with any 4-3 end in this class. He has the speed off the edge to pressure the passer and will warrant a late selection in this draft class. He may be limited to a situational role, but he has the skills to play a key role in passing situations.

9. Clay Harbor - TE - Missouri St.
Mobile small college tight end has improved every season and completed his career with a strong performance including the NFL Combine. He has a quick burst off the line with fine hands and run after the catch ability to be an immediate factor in a pro passing game. He has the talent to fill a few roles including the H back and fullback spots in addition to the tight end positions. He has proven to be a reliable receiver with top hands and the ability to make yardage after the reception. He shows good speed to give a club a threat in the deeper zones. At the NFL Combine, he run a sub 4.7 time with 30 reps and a fine 40” VL and 10’ BJ in an excellent overall workout. Excellent middle round value with the upside potential to become a starter in time.

10. John Skelton - QB - Fordham U (N.Y.)
Strong armed senior QB was impressive over his late career that probably earns him a late draft selection. He displays all the physical talent to become a pro starting QB with a good live arm and the strength and fine throwing technique to earn a #3 role. He has a good delivery and mechanics that allows him to make a quick release to deliver the ball in excellent timing. He has a live arm and gets the ball into tight windows with fairly good accuracy. This guy could be one of the hidden gems of this QB class. He has all the talent and intangibles to become a potential pro starter with development. With time to develop as a passer and learn an offense, he is prospect who is capable of moving up the depth charts over time.

11. Tony Washington - OT - Abilene Christian (Tx.)
Big mobile tackle completed an excellent small college career and shows the skill set to develop into an NFL starting linemen. He can play either tackle spot with the size, bulk, reach and footwork to earn a starting grade in time. He has shown all the necessary physical tools to develop and is a very good athlete with fine footwork and athletic ability. He can be one of the real hidden gems in this class and has NFL starting talent. His serious off the field problems cost him a high grade by most NFL teams, but he could be a major sleeper with the talent to start if given vital time to mature settle into a system.

12. Abe Koroma - NT - Western Illinois
Strong mobile lineman completed a fine career at the lower level after starting at Penn St. Abe will likely be a late round draft selection with the demand for nose tackles and his versatility to play in either front line. He has a wide frame, good functional strength and technique with a strong chance to start as a pro. He has a powerful base with quickness off the snap and sound use his hands to separate from blockers. He is similar to the Tank Johnson in size, athleticism, versatility and experience. Tough, durable lineman with experience in both front line schemes and the talent level to compete for a starting job at some point in his career. Marginal top 250 prospect probably falls to late in the draft off some off the field problems.

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