Evaluating small-school prospects is always difficult largely due to a lack of access. Fortunately there are a few draft analysts who specialize in such knowledge. None are better than Matthew Elder of BuffaloBillsDraft.com. In an effort to become more knowledgeable on small-school players, I sent some questions his way and we're sharing the answers here. Tomorrow, some thoughts on small-school quarterbacks.
Everyone seems to have North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins as the top small-school player for the 2012 NFL Draft. Who is the No. 2 small-school guy this year, and why is he up there?
For me the #2 prospect from the small school ranks in CB Trumaine Johnson from the University of Montana. What you have in Johnson is a tall and speedy CB who minimizes most WR’s assumed size advantage. At 6’2, 205 lbs. he can play in press coverage, he can turn and run with almost any WR, and he will go up after the ball at its highest points. It’s very rare to see a player with his combination of size and athleticism at CB. That being said many feel like his eventual position in the NFL will be at FS where he can utilize his athleticism in space and would have great range at the position. The nice thing about Johnson playing FS is that he would have the ability to come down and cover the slot receiver or TE in a man to man situation. I currently rank Johnson as the #7 CB in this class and I think when he gets into these All-Star games and combines he’s going to blow people away.
Appalachian State wide receiver Brian Quick seems to be a highly regarded player. What about his game makes him stand out?
Brian Quick would be #3 behind Jenkins and Johnson for my top Small School prospects and the reason Quick is so highly thought of is because he looks like a NFL WR already. He’s 6’5, 220 lbs., he runs well, he’s extremely athletic, and his hands are like velcro. There are two potential disadvantages to Quick at this point, the first is we don’t know how fast he’s going to run. Speculation has him running as fast as the 4.4’s and as slow as the 4.6’s. While this doesn’t seem like a big difference in the NFL it could be the difference between him going in Rounds 2 or 3 and him going in Rounds 5 or 6. The second disadvantage is that Quick has never had a real QB throwing him the ball between Armanti Edwards when he was an underclassmen and DeAndre Pressley the past two years. However this past week coach Jerry Moore benched Pressley to go with a better passer in Jamal Jackson. The result was Quick grabbing 8 receptions for 131 yards and a TD. With a real QB throwing him the rock the sky is the limit for Quick.
How good was that? Make sure to check out more of Elder's great work at BuffaloBillsDraft.com. He covers much more than just small-school guys and things related to the Bills. His game previews are personal favorites.