It’s that time of year again in the NFL. Teams are in full scout mode looking for the best players in the country. The NFL combine will begin later this month on February 28. Most people focus on the top prospects from the big schools. There is a lot of talk on who will go number one overall. All the hype comes from rounds one through three but those players are not guaranteed to be good, some don’t even last three seasons.
The numbers prove that it isn’t just about who gets drafted, but who you can find that goes undrafted. At the start of last season, Adam Schefter tweeted that there were more undrafted players (481) than first and second rounders (480) on an NFL roster. This is very telling and the teams that can find players who will make an impact after the draft ends are the teams who find the real gems of the game.
Division I football gets all the love but in the lower divisions, there are still a lot of talented players, many of which could make an NFL roster. Here are seven players from DII that could make an NFL roster and also have a chance to become stars in the NFL.
Antonio Pipkin QB: 6’3″ 225 LBS: Tiffin University
Put on the film of Antonio Pipkin and you see pure athleticism. Pipkin is clearly a duel threat quarterback with a strong arm. He has breakaway speed and if he gets into the open field there is no catching him. One of his most underrated skills is his ability to accurately place touch on the ball. He threw his receivers open in many situations and in the NFL that is a trait all the greats have. The windows are extremely tight in the NFL and under a few years of development Pipkin could eventually be a starter. Pipkin finished his senior season with 2,534 yards passing and 25 touchdowns. He also added 757 yards on the ground with seven touchdowns.
A perfect fit for Pipkin would be a situation like Pittsburgh. Two to three years behind a veteran who will soon retire before he steps onto the field to lead a franchise. Teams would be wise to take a shot at Pipkin whether it is late in the draft or as an undrafted free agent.
Jordan Morgan OG: 6’4″ 320 LBS: Kutztown University
Jordan Morgan may have NFL scouts drooling when they look at his measurables. 6-foot-4 and 320 pounds in a great size for a guard in the NFL. There is a lot of good film on Jordan Morgan. Morgan is a great run blocker who bulldozes defenders with ease often. He knows how to use his size to punish defenders. An area that he needs to work on is pass blocking. The NFL has much bigger and faster defensive lineman than he has blocked and he isn’t great at pass blocking. Morgan could be a good undrafted lineman if a team can develop his pass blocking ability.
Connor Harris MLB: 6-Foot-0 243 LBS: Lindenwood University
Connor Harris will be the biggest surprise in the 2017 class. Harris is going to be a starting middle linebacker in the NFL without question. The film on this guy is just insane. Harris has a high football I.Q. and there is nothing he can’t do on the field. He is great at play recognition and when he makes a read he’s flat out gone.
His pass coverage skills are highly developed as well. Harris is the all-time tackle leader in NCAA history at any level amassing an astonishing 633 tackles. He also had eight and a half sacks, six interceptions and one defensive touchdown in his career. The team that takes a chance on Harris will get a steal and a linebacker who could be a future pro bowler.
Jordan Herdman lB: 6-Foot-0 235 LBS: Simon Fraser University
Jordan Herman is an interesting player. He played a lot of middle linebacker at Simon Frazer University but was sent to attack the quarterback quite often. It allowed him the opportunity to develop pass rushing skills. If Herdman gets a shot in the NFL it will be as a 3-4 outside linebacker or as a defensive end. One thing that may hurt his chances of playing defensive end is his size. He isn’t tall and doesn’t have enough weight to be an every-down defensive end. Ultimately, he must become a 3-4 linebacker but if a team with that scheme takes a chance then the sky is the limit.
Garry Brown WR: 6-Foot-1 200 LBS: California (PA)
If you need a punt or kick returner, call Garry Brown. If you need a receiver to embarrass defensive backs, call Garry Brown. Does your team need a playmaker, you guessed it, call Garry Brown. It is somewhat remarkable that Brown wasn’t playing division I football. He has speed and explosion that belongs in the NFL. Brown is best at catching the ball at its highest point. When the ball is in the air, even at just 6-foot-1, he makes sure it ends up as a catch. Brown will most likely go undrafted but can make an NFL roster as a returner if nothing else.
Billy Brown WR: 6-Foot-4 240 LBS: Shepard
Watching Billy Brown was like watching the Super Bowl commercial of Cam Newton playing pee wee football. Brown is just bigger than everyone on the field. Countless times Brown made a catch and was bulldozing over the players that were just too small to tackle him. Brown could be a dangerous red-zone threat in the NFL. At 6-foot-4, not many defensive backs would be able to jump with Brown. Brown will go undrafted but could have the same impact Victor Cruz had with the Giants.
Adam Shaheen TE: 6-Foot-7 277 LBS: Ashland College
Adam Shaheen is a huge guy and is not lacking in confidence. Shaheen may be the craziest player on this list because he is the only player listed who is a junior. Not many players outside division I are willing to declare early but Shaheen believes he is ready. His confidence shows on the tape. Almost everytime he catches the ball he is jawing with defenders.
He plays the game with fire and knows he is better than the defenders he dominates. His latest season at Ashland College he caught 70 passes for 803 yards and a DII record, 10 touchdowns. Shaheen will need a crash course in run blocking but can be a dangerous pass catcher if given a chance.
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