Every year there are NFL Draft Sleepers from small schools who end up making an NFL impact. Recent examples like Cooper Kupp, Dillon Radunz, and Kyle Dugger have become rock-solid NFL starters with star potential. There is enough film and resources out there to identify NFL Draft Sleepers now, even small school prospects, but the names tend to linger a bit longer.
This is far from an exhaustive list, as in some schools is easier/more difficult to get film. Here are some of my favorites that I have watched during the process:
Davius Richard, NC Central
There is unlikely to be a small school QB drafted this year, but a few players have popped to me while watching. The top of my list is Richard who has NFL size at 6’3, 220 along with a sharp arm. He also adds the athleticism to take off and run to be a threat on the ground. His downfield passing is impressive along with short-range accuracy. His offense isn’t exactly him making NFL throws consistently, but similar to Chris Oladokun in 2022, Richard could sneak into the draft.
Isaiah Davis, South Dakota State
I’ve been raving about Isaiah Davis for years now. He is electric with the ball in his hands and glides across the field. SDSU does employ an RBBC, and Davis split with Pierre Strong (currently with the Cleveland Browns) before he got drafted. At 6’1, 220 pounds, he has the size to run through defenders but also the footwork to make them miss. Though he didn’t compile a ton of amazing statistics, Davis is a solid Day 3 pick with upside.
Dylan Laube, New Hampshire
This will be a player many will like. Laube made national headlines in Week 2 when New Hampshire played up against Central Michigan. They lost 45-42, but Laube broke the FCS RB receiving yardage record with 12 receptions for 295 yards receiving. He scored on two of those receptions for 71 and 80 yards respectively (plus another rushing TD). He has 68 receptions this season for almost as much yardage as he has run for. Think of Danny Woodhead as a stout 5’10, 207 pounds who can catch as well as any RB in this draft.
Jalen Coker, Holy Cross
Coker hasn’t gotten much love, but watching him, he is impressive. He is 6’3, 213 pounds, and runs more routes than most small school receivers. I love it when small school players go up against FBS competition and win. Coker did this against Boston College and Army this year. He has the frame for contested jump balls, but good enough feet to get open on his own. A really intriguing prospect who can also give some special teams ability.
Ryan Flournoy, SE Missouri St
A productive hands catcher, Flournoy never received an FBS offer out of high school. He has solid size and could even kick inside as a big slot in the NFL. Against Kansas State this year, he would get open quickly off the line and racked up 10 receptions in that game. Never dominant, I can see a late-round or UDFA pick.
Kiran Amegadjie, OT, Yale
The #1 small school prospect, Amegadije unfortunately is out for the season with a quad injury. The big 320-pound tackle has long arms and top-notch athleticism. He moves effortlessly and has the upside as a franchise bookend tackle. Day 2 was a real possibility for him with tremendous upside.
Josiah Ezirim, OT, Eastern Kentucky
A bulky power tackle, Ezirim is best at clearing the path in the run game or pancaking while pass-blocking. He is a built 320 pounds and shifts his feet well. Still raw in hand placement, Ezirim is intriguing as a late-round possibility.
Garret Greenfield, OT, South Dakota State
Coming from Iowa high school football, Greenfield is country-strong with good hand placement and technique. He rarely gets beat cleanly and always gets his hand on his man. I can see Greenfield being a solid reserve in the NFL as a Day 3 pick.
C.J. Hanson, iOL, Holy Cross
Hanson impressed me when watching Holy Cross. A pulling guard, he has a head of steam in the run game and can block well in space. With a good base and balance, Hanson could be a solid zone blocker at the next level.
Mason McCormick, iOL, South Dakota State
McCormick has cleared plenty of holes for RB Isaiah Davis in the run game for years. His lower body strength and bend are impressive. Consistent experience and playing at multiple positions should get him on an NFL roster.
Jalen Travis, OT, Princeton
Standing at a massive 6’9, the size and wingspan Travis says it all. He rarely lets defenders even get into him. When watching players from smaller schools line in the Ivy League, I need to see pure dominance. Travis has that consistently. Can he get up to the required strength and footwork for the NFL? That will be the question.
Defensive Front 7
Justin Blazek, UW-Plattville
A multi-sport athlete, Blazek is productive with a great feel for space. He has a variety of moves and works short space well. His workout numbers may not pop off the charts, but his production and tenacity with experience could get him drafted late.
Thor Griffith, DL, Harvard
Griffith is a dominant interior lineman who is an athletic freak. Super strong, super explosive. He doesn’t always know how to use that to his advantage, but a great developmental prospect.
Jalyx Hunt, EDGE, Houston Christian
Hunt may have the best pure tools of any NFL Draft sleeper from a small school. 6’4, 248 pounds, he is 5x the athlete of the players around him. He can bend extremely well and closes fast. A big hitter who doesn’t quite know how to form tackle or use pass rush moves, he wins on athleticism. A team could fall in love with the potential as early as Round 3.
John Pius, LB, William & Mary
Pius is an ideal weakside backer who plays smart. Great at reading and diagnosing while being in the right space. Special teams’ upside is there too to be a Day 3 pick.
Willie Drew, Virginia State
A playmaking, fast corner, Drew fits in the modern NFL. His coverage skills are inconsistent, but he is a smooth athlete with great make-up speed. With good hands and a nose for the ball, he has the upside to change games.
Myles Harden, CB, South Dakota
Harden is a physical corner for his size. He isn’t afraid to jam and get in the receiver’s face. Maybe a special teamer/reserve type, he has impressed me. could be an NFL Draft Sleeper.
Any NFL Draft sleepers of small schools that I missed? Send them over to me as you check out my other work