Like every year, the Sun Belt is the worst conference in the Football Bowl Subdivision in terms of overall talent. In this year's NFL Draft the first Sun Belt player (Alex Carrington to the Bills) was taken in the third round.
Unless one of these players really breaks through, don't expect someone to be draftws from the conference quite as early this year. Regardless, here's a look at the top draft-eligible prospects from the Sun Belt.
Jerrel Jernigan | 5'9, 185 pounds | WR | Troy
Jernigan has the chance to be an exceptional kick returner at the next level. He's shifty and lightning fast. He reportedly times in the 40-yard dash at just under 4.4 seconds and gets up to speed quickly. In 2009 he finished the year with 71 receptions for 1,101 yards and four touchdowns. He's on pace to become the school's all-time receiving yards leader this year. He was given a fairly high grade by the National scouting service, with a third or fourth round projection.
Derek Newton | 6'5, 305 pounds | OT | Arkansas State
The National scouting service gave Newton a grade indicating he'd be drafted anywhere from the fifth to seventh round, so keep an eye on him. Newton started every game for the Red Wolves in 2009, his first in top-level college football. He's a consistent offensive lineman with not a lot of flash to his game. He has the footwork to keep up with speed rushers but isn't the strongest of linemen.
Rob Housler | 6'5, 236 pounds | TE | Florida Atlantic
Housler sat out the 2009 season to redshirt so he could get more playing time in 2010. It was a smart move. He's cemented at Atlantic's starting tight end and is a playmaker. He's fast for his size and has good height. He's run a verified 4.54 40-yard dash. The National scouting service rated him as the second-best senior tight end in the nation.
Dwight Dasher | 5'10, 205 pounds | QB | Middle Tennessee State
Clearly Dasher will have to change positions in the NFL. He may not have quite the size Michael Robinson did out of Penn State, but Dasher could make the same move from quarterback to running back. The preseason player of the year in the conference, Dasher was only the fourth player in NCAA history last season to top 2,500 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing.
Other seniors to keep an eye on:
Jarrett Crittenton | 6'6, 275 pounds | DE | Middle Tennessee State
Anthony Gaitor | 5'10, 178 pounds | CB | Florida International
Tavious Polo | 5'10, 168 pounds | CB | Florida Atlantic
Jeremy Kellem | 5'10, 188 pounds | FS | Middle Tennessee State