2019 NFL Draft: 10 prospects to watch from Non-Power 5 conferences
While not often in the TV spotlight, these are the prospects to monitor closely outside the Power schools
The early portions of the 2018 draft featured a decent sized non-Power 5 presence, as five of the 32 first-rounders and 12 of the first 64 selections came from outside the Big 10, Pac 12, SEC, ACC, and Big 12.
In the 2019 draft, there's a lock first-round pick -- who's likely to be grabbed in the top half of Round 1 -- from a non-Power 5 school and a load of other intriguing prospects to keep an eye on during the upcoming college football season.
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Here's an early introduction to those players.
Debuted in the No. 2 overall spot in my pre-season Top 100 Big Board. The guy's a freak of an athlete. He looks like an oversized linebacker playing defensive tackle. He wins with burst, speed to the football, and a nice repertoire of pass-rushing moves. How good has Oliver been in his first two seasons at Houston? Oh, IDK ... how about 38.5 tackles for loss good. And he already declared for the 2019 draft. Love it.
Anthony Johnson, WR, Buffalo
Native of Rock Hill, South Carolina, a hotbed of NFL talent, Johnson landed in the MAC with the Buffalo Bulls and exploded onto the scene in 2017 after stops at two community colleges. The 6-foot-2, 200-plus pounder had 76 grabs for 1,356 yards and 14 touchdowns in last season. He's a premier deep threat and smooth in the open field. To top it off, his cousin is Jadeveon Clowney.
Sutton Smith, EDGE, Northern Illinois
Smith will inevitably be hit with the "undersized" label by some NFL teams, but he can really get after it on the edge with an intense blend of speed and shooting guard-like quickness. He racked up 30 tackles for loss and 14 sacks in 2017 alone for the Huskies and many of those splash plays came at the end of awesome displays of his twitchiness.
Carl Granderson, EDGE, Wyoming
On the Pick Six Podcast with Will Brinson earlier this week, I dropped a comparison between Granderson and Saints' first-round pick Marcus Davenport. Granderson is tall and could add some weight to his frame at the next level, but the way he dominates lesser competition with tenacity and power on the outside reminds me a lot of what I saw from Davenport at UTSA. He had 16 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks in 2017.
Khalil Hodge, LB, Buffalo
Third MAC player and second from Buffalo ... #MACtion will be taken to another level this season. Hodge combines lightning-quick play recognition awareness with above-average athleticism to get to the football often. He followed a 123-tackle 2016 with a 153-takedown 2017 and added three sacks, two interceptions, and a pair of forced fumbles.
Jaylon Ferguson, EDGE, Louisiana Tech
Another tall, long, Davenport type, Ferguson has been a steady producer during his career at Louisiana Tech. He wins with speed, impressive bend, and moments of power around the corner to get to the quarterback. If he returns to his 2016 form when he tallied 14 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks, he'll be in the conversation to be picked in one of the first two rounds next April.
Max Scharping, OL, Northern Illinois
Four, yes, four MAC players on this list. Scharping probably could've been picked in one of the middle rounds in 2018 after a impeccably clean junior season in DeKalb. At 6-6 and 320 pounds, Scharping -- who's played both tackle and guard -- has NFL-caliber size and plays with controlled power thanks to quick feet. There's a good chance the former Freshman All-American will get first-round consideration.
Singletary is a bouncy back with some home-run hitting ability and was the unquestioned heartbeat of the Owls offense last season under Lane Kiffin, as he carried the ball 301 times for 1,918 yards with ... 32 rushing touchdowns. Goodness. Singletary is your classic waterbug runner who possesses some surprising power on inside carries.
Larry Allen III, OL, Harvard
Son of one of the most physically capable and overwhelmingly powerful offensive linemen in NFL history, Allen was a member of the All-Ivy team in 2015 and 2016 before stepping away from football in 2017 for undisclosed reasons. He's expected to return to the field in the fall and despite not yet tipping the scales at 300 pounds, Allen plays with a similar style to that of his father. He routinely dominates at the point of attack and is a fine athlete for his size.
Brett Rypien, QB, Boise State
Having already appeared in 27 games for the Broncos, Rypien -- nephew of former Redskins Super Bowl winning quarterback Mark Rypien -- is an experienced signal-caller who's not yet looked like an NFL franchise quarterback on a consistent basis but has flashed outstanding anticipation and accuracy. He'll carry a career 62.7 completion percentage, 8.4 yards per attempt and 60 touchdowns to 22 interceptions into his senior year in Boise.
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