The NFL Draft is fast approaching, and the Combines start in less than a week. That’s right many college players are already preparing to take their game to the next level, and for many players from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the start of the NFL Draft on April 27th will determine if they continue to pursue a dream or give up on a dream.
For those of you who have been paying attention, you already know that players from HBCUs’ have a tougher time getting the attention of the NFL scouts who spend most of their time looking at players from schools like Alabama, Clemson, and USC. I must say that as recent as last year and the year before a couple of NFL teams have been happy that they did not ignore the talent coming out of Black College Football.
Two years ago the Arizona Cardinals selected a 6’5″ 305-pound Defensive lineman out of Delaware state by the name of Rodney Gunter in the fourth round. Gunter started in 11 games in only his second year I the league and looked to be a lock to Start next season.
Just a year ago, The Pittsburgh Steelers Drafted Javon Hargrave out of South Carolina State in the third round.The 6’1″ 305-pound Defensive tackle made an immediate impact starting in 13 games his rookie year, racking up 27 tackles.The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected defensive Back Ryan Smith out of North Carolina Central in the fourth round, and the Los Angeles ( St Louis ) Rams picked up Tight end Tamarack Hemingway in the sixth round. That means that in 2016 only three players from a Historically Black College or University were selected in the three-day event.
So what does that mean for this season? First of all many of the players from predominately black colleges and universities who are on NFL teams today signed as undrafted free agents and worked their way through training camp to make the team. Things may not be any different for this year’s crop of young talent looking for a future in the league.
But, there are some gems available, and they only need an opportunity. For example, Tarik Cohen from North Carolina A&T and Lenard Tillery from Southern University were both the all-time leading rushers in their respective conferences. Both running backs rushed for over 1,500 yards last season, but they are small (Cohen stands only 5’6″ weighs in at 179 -Pounds and Tillery are 5’10” weighing 200-Pounds). Both talents were major players at the running back position, but NFL teams may see them as special teams players. I think Cohen and Tillery can make an impact at their natural positions on Sundays.
Grambling State receiver Chad Williams had a 1,000-yard season while hauling in 90 receptions and scoring 11 touchdowns. He could be a late (5th through 7th round) draft pick. There has been some chatter amongst NFL Scouts about Williams after his performance in the Reeses’ Senior Bowl. Tennessee State Offensive Guard Jessamen Dunker also participated in the Reeses’ Senior Bowl and at 6-4 300 pounds plus he could be selected in the 5th or 6th round. Meanwhile, Dunkers teammate Defensive back Ezra Robinson could also be selected in the late rounds.
Speaking of Offensive lineman, Javarius Leamon from South Carolina State could be selected in the fifth through seventh round of the Draft. Leamon stands 6’7″ tall and weighs in at 328 -pounds, and he could play tackle at the next level.
Texas Southern Kicker Eric Medina could get a look, he is projected as the 11th best kicker in the draft, but his chances of making an NFL roster most likely will come as a free agent. The same may be expected for Hampton Punter Christian Faber-Kinney.
Other players from HBCU’s who may get drafted are Albany State Defensive Lineman Grover Stewart and Jackson State Outside Linebacker Javancy Jones.Jones is listed as one of the top twenty best players available at his position.
For the past two seasons at least one player from a Historically Black College and University has been selected in the fourth round. Last year Hargrave was selected in the third. Maybe this year someone will be selected in the second round and shock the so-called football experts. But I doubt it; I will be happy whenever a young man from an HBCU is selected and gets an opportunity to shine at the next level.