2019 NFL Draft: Small School Prospects

Bruce Matson

Small school players are generally thrown to the side and often overlooked due to their lack of competition. Since there’s not much media coverage reporting the results from their games, the overall knowledge of the prospects is limited at best.

The odds that we get a mainstream fantasy contributor from the FCS, division two or even division three ranks are not very likely. However, some of these players bubble up to the surface from time to time. Cecil Shorts and Pierre Garcon both came from Mount Union, a division three powerhouse from northeast Ohio. David Johnson, a former running back prodigy from Northern Iowa might be the most notable FCS prospect who has taken the league by storm in recent years.


Taryn Christion, QB South Dakota State

Christion is a 6-foot-2, 225-pound escape artist. He has a good feel of the pocket and knows when protection is breaking down. At his pro day, he was clocked at a 4.55-second 40-yard dash, making him one of the most athletic quarterbacks in this year’s draft. Not only is he athletic, but he also has a strong arm and can complete passes on all sectors of the football field. He’s also very mobile and good at picking up extra yardage from scrambling out of the pocket.

After four seasons at South Dakota State, Christion is leaving as one of the best quarterbacks in the program’s history with three straight seasons with over 3,000 yards passing and 30 touchdowns. His accuracy is his biggest issue, considering he only completed 57.9 percent of his passes against FCS competition last year. There are some good traits in his profile, but he’s still a longshot to become a starter at the next level.

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Easton Stick, QB North Dakota State

Stick might be the most noticeable FCS quarterback in this year’s draft class. He’s a solid athlete who does a good job of maintaining patience in the pocket. His arm strength is good but not great. Same with his accuracy. He’s good at hitting short to intermediate passes, but he loses some of his touch on the deep ball. His decision-making is volatile at best. Stick is more than capable of stringing together multiple completions in a row, but there are times where he will miss the mark on his throw or miss time his pass attempt.

After passing for 2,752 yards and 28 touchdowns last season, Stick led North Dakota State to an FCS Championship victory over Eastern Washington. His storied FCS career ended with 8,693 yards passing and 88 touchdowns. He also rushed for 2,523 yards and 41 touchdowns.

Amir Hall, QB Bowie State

Hall is a very exciting quarterback prospect. He completes passes all over the football field. With a smooth throwing motion, he gets the ball out quickly to his intended target. Even though he ran for 445 yards and seven touchdowns last season, he’s not a run-first quarterback. He does an excellent job of scanning the field and going through his progressions before he makes his decision. All-in-all, Hall is a developmental prospect with a lot of upside. He will be a late-round pick at best which means draft capital won’t be on his side.

At Bowie State during his senior season, he passed for 4,152 yards and 31 touchdowns while completing 64.95 percent of his pass attempts. He had nine games with over 300 yards passing. He broke the CIAA All-Time records in passing yardage and touchdowns. The major red flag in his player profile is his size. At 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, he’s a tall glass of water. However, he’s going to experience a massive upgrade with the strength and condition program provided by his NFL team. He can always put on weight and gain size.


Wes Hills, RB Slippery Rock

Hills turned some heads at the Senior Bowl with his swift footwork and burst. With excellent contact balance, he’s hard to bring down in the open field. His ability to grind out tough yards between the tackles makes him a solid option for short yardage and goal-line work. He also has steady lateral agility which allows him to jump cut and juke his way past defenders.

He started his collegiate career at Delaware where he rushed for 1,849 yards during the first three years of his collegiate career. During that time, injuries prevented him from maximizing his potential. He transferred to Slippery Rock for his final season where he rushed for 1,714 yards. He also had three games with over 200 yards rushing.

At the combine, Hill measured in at an even six-foot and weight 209 pounds. His 4.50 40-yard dash allowed him to have one of the better performances at the combine. He tested quicker than expected and might be a true dark horse in this year’s draft.

Bruce Anderson, RB North Dakota State

Even with the added assistance from playing behind a dominant offensive line, Anderson still pops on tape. He moves laterally very well and does a good job at maintaining his balance at the point of contact, making him very tough to tackle in one on one situations. With good vision and footwork, Anderson is more than capable of finding the hole to reach the second level of the defense. His soft hands allow him to catch passes out of the backfield.

He rushed for 924 yards and nine touchdowns during his senior season last year, averaging 71.1 yards per game. With four 100-yard rushing performances, he solidified himself as one of the key components to the Bison’s offensive attack with a 15.87 percent market share of the team’s offensive production. He was even more productive the year prior, rushing for 1,249 yards and 12 touchdowns which led to a 20.87 percent ownership of North Dakota State’s offensive production.

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Anderson projects as a suboptimal athlete. He tallied dismal a 91.4 weight-adjusted speed score. His 7.23 three-cone suggests he doesn’t have the short-area quickness to make the lateral cut necessary to get by defenders at the next level. Considering he wasn’t a mega producer at the FCS level combined with his limited athleticism, Anderson is considered a longshot to make it in the NFL.

Ryan Fulse, RB Wagner

Fulse is a very electric runner. He’s a threat to score from anywhere on the field and he’s also not afraid to drop his pad level to run over a defender. Dangerous is his middle name once he hits the open field because he’s got enough juice in his legs to scoot past the opposition. At 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds, he lacks the prototypical size of an NFL caliber running back. He will either need to pack on a few pounds or win with speed and agility.

In 11 games last season, Fulse rushed for 1,784 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also caught 26 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns. His best game of the season came against Robert Morris where he rushed for 303 yards and two touchdowns.

Xavier Turner, RB Tarleton State

Turner is a battering ram with wiggle. He executes tremendous contact balance and can move laterally very well. Defensive backs will need to make critical business decisions before they attempt to tackle him in the open field. Overall, he’s a fun back to watch and even though he’s not an elite level athlete, his skill set should carry over to the NFL level.

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Oddly, Turner’s best comparable player in my database is Derrick Ross who is also from Tarleton State. His pro day numbers suggest that he doesn’t have the short-area quickness or the burst to be drastically effective at the NFL level. However, his 103.6 weight-adjusted speed score indicates that he has enough speed to be dangerous if he hits the second level of the defense. Granted, he’s not a top tier prospect, that’s why he plays in division two, but he does have some traits that could allow him to flash for an NFL team.


Ashton Dulin, WR Malone

Dulin is this year’s “Jeff Janis”. Last year, during his senior season, he caught 61 passes for 984 yards and 11 touchdowns, allowing him to own a 60.9 percent dominator rating. During the recruiting process, he received some division one offers, but he decided to go to Malone because he could play football and run track. Dulin is a solid deep threat who is not afraid to attack the ball while it’s in the air. He has an incredible catch radius and he does a good job at using his frame and his arm length to create separation from the defender while being contested at the catch point.

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One of the most exciting things about Dulin’s profile is his athleticism. He has a 111.1 height adjusted speed score which ranks in the 92nd percentile amongst wide receiver prospects. His 38-inch vertical indicates that he has solid burst and is 7.0 three-cone registers as average. With everything into consideration, Dulin is your typical boom or bust prospect that you take in the later rounds of your dynasty draft.

Alex Wesley, WR Northern Colorado

With 2,716 career receiving yards leading to 17.4 yards per catch, Wesley proved to be a solid deep threat for Northern Colorado. He has the speed to run past the defense with vertical routes. Ball skills are one of his strong points, considering he can pluck the ball out of the air with his hands while being contested.

At the combine, he ran a 4.45 40-yard dash, ranking in the 79th percentile amongst wide receiver prospects. His 38.5-inch vertical jump will help him release off the line of scrimmage. However, is poor 7.40 three-cone tells us he doesn’t have the short area quickness to outrun defenders while moving laterally.

Emmanuel Butler, WR Northern Arizona

During his final season at Northern Arizona, Butler caught 35 passes for 676 yards and seven touchdowns which allowed him to own a 33.48 percent market share of the team’s passing offense. He also posted two 1,000-yard seasons in 2015 and 2016.

When you press play on the tape, it’s easy to see that he was a man amongst boys at the division two level. His speed and size outmatched most defenders and his ability to out jump the opposition at the catch point made him incredibly hard to cover.

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Butler has some interesting athletic comps. His 101.8 height adjust speed score ranks in the 68th percentile amongst wide receiver prospects. Unfortunately, we don’t have a three-cone time to gauge his short area quickness. Butler is another option in the later rounds of rookie drafts that could develop into a tremendous value if he can transition his game to the NFL level.

Jazz Ferguson, WR North Western State

After his only and final season at North Western State, Ferguson caught 66 passes for 1,117 yards and 13 touchdowns. He had six games with over 100 yards receiving. Ferguson is another deep threat with decent size. His arsenal is riddled with circus play catches and beating defenders with his speed.

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There aren’t many players who compare to him athletically. Jon Baldwin is the closest wide receiver and even at that, he’s not really a comparable prospect. Ferguson has speed but lacks short area quickness which could hurt him when he gets into training camp this summer. His speed and size will allow him to win on the field. He will just need to develop his skills if he wants to carve out a role with an NFL team.


Donald Parham, TE Stetson

Parham was a major receiving threat for Stetson last year, catching 85 passes for 1,319 yards and 13 touchdowns. His 6-foot-8 frame allows him to tower over defenders. He’s a move tight end with good speed for his size. After running a 4.7 40-yard dash at his pro day, Parham posts a 116.37 height adjusted speed score, making him one of the most athletic tight end prospects in this year’s draft. Another amazing thing about him is his 38.5-inch vertical. Combine his leaping ability with his height and you have a very promising red zone target. Parham is an athletic prodigy who could develop into something big if he can take a step forward in his development.

Obviously, there are a lot of small school prospects who are eligible for the draft that I didn’t touch base on. If there’s a player that you’re interested in that I didn’t review, feel free to leave your thoughts about that player in the comment section below so we can further the conversation about these small school prospect.


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