A Look at the Small School Players Who Have a Shot at the NFL This Year
|Date & Time||Wednesday February 17, 2016, 12:00 PM (EST)|
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Part of the fun of prepping for the NFL draft is trying to figure out who the sleeper picks are going to be any given year. A lot of times, those sleepers come from small schools. This morning, we’re going to take a look at the top ten most intriguing small school NFL defensive prospects in 2016. We’ll get to the offensive guys tomorrow.
1. Eastern Kentucky DE Noah Spence
Spence, who clocks-in at 6’3 and 225 pounds, is a former Ohio State Buckeye who lost his Big Ten eligibility two years ago after two failed drug tests. Spence ended-up at EKU, playing for Urban Meyer’s good friend Dean Hood. Spence managed to keep his nose clean in 2015 and, provided he doesn’t cause any off-field issues, could be an NFL starter his rookie season.
2. Jacksonville State DT Devaunte Sigler
6’5, 292 pound Sigler is a former Auburn player who was dismissed for violating the Tigers’ rules. Sigler moved home to Mobile, AL before finally being picked-up by Jacksonville State. Sigler will be appearing at the NFL Combine, where he’ll have a chance to prove himself once and for all.
3. Jacksonville State DE Chris Landrum
6’3, 263 pound Landrum is another former Auburn player who transferred following the 2012 college football season. Landrum and Sigler have both proven themselves worthy of NFL consideration over the past couple of seasons, with both players racking-up over 30 tackles and 3.5 sacks apiece in 2014.
4. Indiana State LB Connor Underwood
Underwood, a 6’3, 240 pound lineman, has been an impressive member of the Sycamores’ squad since he redshirted in 2011. In fact, Underwood holds school records for both tackles for a loss (52.5) and sacks (28.5) over the course of his first three seasons. Underwood definitely has NFL potential, but he may need to bulk-up a bit first.
5. Central Arkansas DE Jonathan Woodard
At 6’6 and 271 pounds, Woodard definitely has the size needed to succeed in the NFL. He was named the Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2014 and holds a school record for career sacks.
6. Sioux Falls CB Soloman St. Pierre
St. Pierre, a fifth-year senior who clocks-in at 5’11 and 171 pounds, led Division II football in interceptions in 2014. Over the course of 29 career games, St. Pierre has 13 interceptions, making him an intriguing prospect for NFL teams who are looking to add an impact player to their defenses.
7. Shorter S Jordan Shaw
Shaw, a 6’2, 215 pound player, only moved to the defensive side of the ball in 2013. Prior to that, he served as his team’s backup quarterback. In two years playing his current position, Shaw has an impressive ten interceptions.
8. Minnesota State DE Joshua Gordon
6’2, 255 pound Gordon redshirted in 2011, but has been making a name for himself ever since. In 2014, Gordon’s 17.5 sacks set a school record and played a role in earning him Northern Sun Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors.
9. Eastern Illinois S Jourdan Wickliffe
WIckliffe, at 6’1 and 200 pounds, has good size for an NFL safety. He also goes to the same school that produced both Tony Romo and Jimmy Garappolo. Through 2014, Wickliffe had nine interceptions in his college career, putting him on lots of NFL scouts’ watch lists.
10. Liberty DE Chima Uzowihe
6’2, 250 pound Uzowihe has been a First Team all-conference player for two years running, thanks in large part to his impressive sacking abilities. Through the 2014 season, Uzowihe had 17 sacks (including 8 that year alone) and 27 tackles for a loss. He won’t be appearing at the Combine, though, so Uzowihe’s will largely have to rely on his pro day performance.