The college football season is over. Although this is true, the Reese’s Senior Bowl is the start of every college players’ journey to the NFL. Of course, not every player there this week will be drafted but many can get a shot to at least get into a training camp in July. Particularly, the players from the little schools. Many of these players have this one hope to improve their stock by practicing against the best of the best. There are seven players that have a great shot of playing on Sundays in the NFL.
Reese’s Senior Bowl: The Seven Small School Players Who Can Improve Their Stock In Mobile
Tight end Dallas Goedert (South Dakota St.)
Dallas Goedert is gonna get his chance this week to improve his already stellar talent with a nice performance in Mobile. Goedert stands at 6-foot-4 and weighs about 260 lbs. In the last two years for the Jackrabbits, he has amassed some mind-blowing numbers. Goedert had over 2,000 yards receiving and over 18 touchdowns.
The question that comes from these small college prospects will be, can he adapt to the NFL game? Scouts and coaches won’t have much doubt after seeing this kid up close.
“The measurables are what they are, and they’re very good. From that standpoint, he’ll be as good as anyone his size. Teams are going to be more interested to know what makes him tick on the inside,” an AFC scout said.
Goedert is gonna be drafted. He has the athletic ability with speed and balance to make big plays. Also, Goebert can be called upon to block which has improved. This kid may be the best prospect from a small school coming out this year.
Draft Projection: Rounds 1-3
Offensive Tackle Desmond Harrison (West Georgia)
Desmond Harrison could be the ultimate comeback warrior if he can continue to impress the NFL scouts this week. Harrison finished his career at West Georgia but started at the Texas Longhorns back in 2013. He stands at 6-foot-6 and weighs a solid 308 lbs. Harrison has some great athleticism for his size and is a dominant force in the passing game. Just take a look here.
His skill level is off the charts. Of course, the Division II status will have some scouts doubting his abilities. In addition, the interviews and one on one time with coaches could move his needle up or down. This is one guy that has a real chance to be a big sleeper. There’s not a consensus on where or if he’ll be drafted because of his past. But don’t sleep on this guy. He has that “it” factor that is rare to find.
Draft Projection: 5th-undrafted
Cornerback Taron Johnson (Weber St.)
Taron Johnson from Weber St. can flat out play. Johnson is a bit undersized at 5-foot-11 and 180 lbs. but he doesn’t play small. Johnson is the first player to be invited to the Senior Bowl from “The Weber State” since 2000. That’s 18 years if you are counting.
His speed is near 4.40 for the 40-yard dash. Johnson overpowered quarterbacks with three picks and 49 tackles in 2017. He has helped Weber St. become one of the top defenses in the FCS. Look for him to be drafted in the middle rounds. He’s another player that could raise his stock with impressive practices this week in Mobile.
Draft Projection: Rounds 3-5
Cornerback Michael Joseph (Dubuque)
Michael Joseph is perhaps the biggest underdog in this year’s Senior Bowl. Pierre Garcon knows it all too well. Moreover, standout linebacker London Fletcher knows too that the NFL was a long shot coming from Division III John Carroll in Cleveland, Ohio. Regardless, Joseph gets a shot that many guys don’t even sniff from his status.
Joseph is a 6-foot-1 player that likes to play tight coverage. Amazingly, he had eight interceptions in 2017 which defies logic. Add 43 tackles and 14 pass breakups, and you’ve got a legitimate NFL candidate.
And yes, he can run back kicks too. Joseph is no doubt gonna be a long shot to get drafted, but look for him to turn some heads in training camp. With the right team, Joseph can be a game changer.
Draft Projection: 6th-Undrafted
Quarterback Kyle Lauletta (Richmond)
Kyle Lauletta is the only quarterback prospect who is featured here. Lauletta is a very enticing guy who can dazzle the NFL scouts this week. Lauletta is 6-foot-3 and 208 lbs. No doubt, he could add a little weight and muscle to strengthen his frame. That being said, Lauletta has excellent skills of reading his progressions while maintaining his body control. In other words, he has a unique ability of pocket presence that can’t really be taught.
Throwing for over 10,000 yards in his career with 73 TD’s versus 35 interceptions proves that he’s got the consistency too. In 2017, Lauletta had his best year with 28 TD’s against just 12 interceptions and 3,737 yards. Watch him closely this week. He’s got all the tools to be a late round prospect or a highly touted undrafted free agent.
Draft Projection: 6th-undrafted
Linebacker Darius Leonard (South Carolina St.)
Nothing like a guy who comes out with talent and has a chip on his shoulder. Darius Leonard is one of those prospects that’s gonna make it on the next level. He really wanted to go to Clemson but it wasn’t to be. Leonard was honest about his disappointment. “My brother played at Clemson, I stayed at Death Valley, I went to camps. I really wanted to go there. It hurt me pretty bad when they didn’t call,” Leonard said.
Now, the NFL is going to take a good look at him. Leonard has the NFL size at 6-foot-3 and nearly 240 lbs. He can fly from any side of the field with 4.6 speed in the 40-yard dash. Ultimately, Leonard has grown from 180 lbs. as a high school senior, to a 230-pound athlete now. Leonard has the unrelenting motor and a laser focus on the field. He should have his name called when the draft comes around.
Draft Projection: Rounds 3-5
Cornerback/Safety Siron Neal (Jacksonville St.)
Siron Neal is going to be a lethal threat near the line of scrimmage and in special teams. Be that as it may, Neal can also play in pass coverage with four pass breakups this past season. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Neal is mostly known for his run defense. In one season, Neal had 80 tackles, with 11.5 of those for a loss.
In 2017, Neal has 11 pass breakups with 33 tackles and an interception. Neal is gonna be one of those blue collar players that will do anything to help a team. He’s the complete player with a mindset to disrupt offenses with his aggressive style and lock down instincts. Look for him go somewhere in the middle of the draft. However, he’s another guy that can improve his stock with a great Senior Bowl.
Draft Projection: Rounds 4-6