These are five players who should hear their names called in April.
The NFL Draft is an opportunity for hundreds of players to hear their names called for a chance to live their dream of being an NFL player. Players from big-time college football powers and small schools might hear commissioner Roger Goodell call their name. This April, some players from HBCUs should expect to hear their names on draft day.
Here are five players you should know (...and four of them play defense):
5. Joshua Pryor, EDGE (Bowie State):
Pryor played on many scouts and media pundits' lists this season. There is a lot to like about the tape. He was productive and dominant at times in the CIAA. Bowie State is a powerhouse program in Division II, and Pryor was its best player. He was arguably the best player in the HBCU Combine and Legacy Bowl. Pryor is a little small at 242 pounds but has a frame that can carry more weight.
4. Aubrey Miller, Jr., Line Backer (Jackson State):
Weight: 229 Pounds
Legendary wrestling announcer Jim "J.R." Ross coined the phrase "tough as a two-dollar steak." That is the perfect way to describe Jackson State linebacker Aubrey Miller, Jr. He is the epitome of a "see ball, get ball" linebacker. Scouts who do their due diligence won't be thrown off by his height. Hall of Famer Mike Singletary and former All-Pro (the late) Sam Mills both had great careers at linebacker under six feet tall. Miller is capable of doing the same.
3. Andrew Farmer, EDGE (Lane College):
Weight: 251 pounds
The postseason all-star circuit is about players like Farmer. He was a late bloomer who grew into his body. Farmer showed he could compete against players from larger schools at both the Hula Bowl and HBCU Legacy Bowl. The Florida native has a great first step off of the snap and plays with tremendous power.
2. Isaiah Land, Line Backer (Florida A&M):
Weight: 226 Pounds
Land was the prospect everyone wanted to see at each stop he made on the postseason All-Star circuit, and he did not disappoint, especially at the Senior Bowl. A lot would be made about his weight, so playing off-ball linebacker well was a plus for Land. He showed that he is an elite athlete who can adapt quickly to adverse situations.
1. Xavier Smith, Wide Receiver (Florida A&M):
"Size is not a skill, and you cannot hit what you cannot catch." Those are the words of NFL Draft analyst Emory Hunt. Those words epitomize (especially the second) Florida A&M receiver Xavier Smith. Former Pro Bowl receiver Steve Smith (no relation) said of his namesake, "he's got another gear." Speed is the name of the game in the NFL, and Xavier Smith has plenty of it; if he has the ball in space, game over.