Now that the NFL Playoffs are underway, we can also celebrate the beginning of the draft season. College Football is done and the players that are looking to pursue their pro football dreams are all leaving their teams to train. The major college prospects always seem to dominate the headlines. Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and many other major colleges with have their players talked about and highlighted. The players you don’t hear much about are the small school players. They don’t get the airtime the major schools get. They don’t get the national press unless they are so good that a national analyst takes notice or he gets his name called on draft day. Most fans don’t hear about them until they are already in training camps. While there are hundreds of talented players trying to make it to the next level, they are less than a hundred that actually can succeed each year. Here are ten prospects that can make the leap to the next level.
Ryan Fulse, Running Back, Wagner College (5’11 – 195)
Ryan Fulse rushed for 3,090 yards, 24 touchdowns and averaged 5.8 yards per under 100 yards rushing just three times. He ran for over 150 yards in 7 of his 11 games in 2018. Fulse has the ability to create explosive runs as well as short yardage power. His elusive runs and one cut explosiveness made defenders look silly. Fulse also provides an option as a receiver out of the backfield. He has room on his frame to add more muscle as well. Teams love backs that can be more than a runner in this day of wide open offenses. He will be a value pick for a NFL team.
Nick Giorgio, Defensive End, Springfield College (6’1 – 250)
Nick Giorgio has been a fierce pass rusher for Division III Springfield College. A three year starter with tweener size, he displays athletic ability to bend and turn the corner. Giorgio has back to back double-digit sack seasons. He has a career total of 29.5 in four seasons. He is also a stout run defender as well. Giorgio had a total of 218 tackles in his career. He played with his hand on the ground all the time in a three-man front. It will be interesting to see if he can play standing up as a 3-4 outside linebacker. His up the field rush and motor are nothing to joke about. He uses his hands well to shed and pursue. He will chase plays down as well. There are times on film where he is not near the runner and finds ways to get in on the tackle. It is a deep draft class for defensive line. If teams don’t get him on Day 3, then Giorgio would be a find a s priority free agent. He is a draft-able player in my opinion.
Matthew Pyke, Center, East Tennessee State (6’1 – 301)
Matthew Pyke has the ability to anchor and take on stronger defenders with his low center of gravity. He doesn’t have superior length, but can anchor well in protection. He also has the ability to pull and block in space. He is a player that teams looking for a quality center should consider. He is a very technical player. It may be his best trait besides his athleticism. He is also an intelligent player that can see fronts and make calls at the line of scrimmage.
Christopher Neu, Guard, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (6’3-300)
Neu looks the part with a big frame. He can anchor down in protection against big body defenders. He gets great movement on combination blocks. Neu shows the ability to pass stunts and maintain leverage once engaged. He handled plenty of defenders at the National Bowl in Daytona. Played tackle and guard, but fits best as a guard on the next level.
Chase DeMoor, Defensive End, Central Washington (6’4-248)
Chase DeMoor has superb edge speed. His ability to get upfield and play the run is uncanny for a player at his level. He does a good job taking on H-Back blocks and fighting off traps. Chase is also an intelligent rusher that understand how to read a tackle’s kick step. He understands when you see the tackle quickset to get his hands up in the passing lane because the ball is coming out quickly. His quick first step is a major tool that allows him to generate the speed to capture the edge. He also has solid bend to turn the corner. He would be a great add to a team that is looking for an abundance of edge rush.
Michael O’Connor, Quarterback, British Columbia (6’4-230)
North of the border prospect had the chance to showcase his talent in Daytona at the FCS Bowl. O’Connor passed for 3,131 yards, 17 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in 2018. He averaged 12.6 yards per completion showing his ability to get the ball downfield. O’Connor’s 3 to 1 touchdown/interception ratio also shows his ability to protect the football. A big QB with a big arm, he is opening eyes of scouts all over the continent. He started out at Penn State before transferring to British Columbia. Look for O’Connor to get a look on Day 3 if his name is called.
John Yarbrough, Center, Richmond (6’5-293)
Yarbrough has the size to play anywhere on the line. He works best as an interior player. His toughness was also noticed at the FCS Bowl in Daytona. He played mostly center there, but flashed some guard traits as well. He can anchor down on power rushers and work to the second level in the run game. Heady player that sees fronts well and makes proper adjustments. His skillset will suit many teams needs as players that can fill both the center/guard need allow teams to use one player for two roster spots allowing depth at other positions. With a good pro day he could definitely here his name called Day 3.
Easton Stick, Quarterback, North Dakota State (5’11-190)
Another North Dakota State quarterback is making waves. Stick isn’t as big as his predecessor, but he made just as many explosive plays. He also led the herd to back to back FCS National Titles. You have to like his ability to stand in the pocket and make throws down the field. He shows a rare patience in the pocket that isn’t common with smaller quarterbacks. His height is a question that will be answered at the Shrine next week. His production is without question. Who wouldn’t believe in a quarterback that threw 88 touchdowns, 8693 yards with 28 interceptions in four seasons as a starter. His stock will rise sharply with a strong performance in St. Petersburg.
Kamron Lewis, Wide Receiver, St. Francis (6’3-205)
Kamron first caught my attention literally when he earned player of the week honors in 2017 for my site Cover2draft.com. The big wideout had his best season as a sophomore amassing 1,478 yards on 75 catches and 11 touchdowns. He has shown the ability to climb the ladder to make catches outside of his catch radius. His athleticism can make a bad quarterback look good. He has averages double digit yards per catch in each of his last three seasons. He has had at least one catch of 50 yards or more in each of his last three seasons. Lewis has a long frame that could add more muscle which is a need for him to be a consistent threat at the next level.
Nate Rogers, Wide Receiver, Wayne State College (6’4-200)
Rogers is a tall, lean receiver that is the king of the contested catch. When you watch his film, he doesn’t consistently separate. However, he does seem to always win even in tight coverage. You rarely see a defender outfight him for a ball. He is mostly an outside receiver that has flashed the ability to win in the slot. He will win on improvised routes. He also has a frame capable of adding some muscle. He wins at the line of scrimmage. Strong hands allow him to snatch passes away from defenders. Leaps at the right time to high point the football. In a league that loves big wideouts he is another player with a strong performance at the Gridiron Showcase this week can really boost his stock.