When it comes to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) talents in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, defensive players top the list with 16. This demonstrates the substantial talent base was from the institutions.
Now, it is time to change ‘was’ to ‘is,’ and the 2020 NFL HBCU Combine will start the institutions’ ascension in the league.
Out of the 32 HBCU players in the NFL last season, 16 standouts were on rosters. Out of those 16, eight were selected in a NFL Draft, including Washington Redskins cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Tennessee State) who was selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the first round as the 16th-overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft and Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard (South Carolina State) who was selected in the second round as the 36th-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
This combine is the first of its kind for HBCU players. Due to the lack of visibility, creditable and deserving defensive standouts have been overlooked for decades.
Clearly, that will not be the case this year, and the years to come.
Since investing into the NFL Regional Combine platform, NFL Football Operations helped pilot over 300 players into the territory of the NFL at some capacity.
Because of its success and proven practices, NFL Football Operations has taken the responsibility of making HBCU players visible and through this process, the these athletes will not be ignored.
The defensive players from the HBCU platform are ready to defend their institutions, pride and have an opportunity to show that they belong.
Here’s to potential history in the making.
DB Joshua Hill (Alabama State) – 5-10, 196-pounds. – Great anticipation, understand route combinations to defend, good hands and usage, good speed, elite closing speed, track ball well, play the run, explodes on impact, great pad level, sinks down in coverage, do not play too high, solid fundamentals, great technique, good bounce, aggressive.
DB Dajour Nesbeth (Tennessee State) – 6-1, 190-pounds – 2018 All-Ohio Valley Conference First Team. Smart, attacks the ball at highest point, covers a lot of ground, has fundamental qualities, quick, good speed, solid leaping ability, confidence, has swag. Big question, availability. Finished with 58 tackles to lead the team (42 solos) and four interceptions, including 11 passes defensed – all in nine games.
DB Christian Angulo (Hampton) – 6-2, 194-pounds – Great feet, plays the ball well, keeps eye on quarterback, shield well with body, good speed, savvy, solid anticipation, rarely give up the inside, confident, does not gamble, team guy, solid pad level, fundamental sound, good technique.
DB Robert Cummings (Benedict) – 6-0, 185-pounds – Explodes through his hips, great technique, strong and great hands, track ball like a receiver, aggressive towards the ball, physical, intense, provides run support, solid against the run, essential pad level, always lead with shoulders, squares up properly, active hands.
DB Sterling Hammond (Virginia Union) – 6-1, 205-pounds – Great closing speed, make plays on the ball, patience, instinctive, aggressive, good break on ball, provides good run support, balance, physical, smart.
DB Joseph McWilliams (Grambling) – 5-10, 180-pounds – Complete athletic, good speed, playmaking potential, great hands and feet, excels on special teams, instinctive, high motor, great visions, good anticipation, strong hands, can be physical when need.
DB Bobby Price (Norfolk State) – 6-4, 205-pounds – Intense, athletic, good speed and hands, solid foot work, fearless, use size well, decent cover skills, rarely surrenders the inside, patience yet aggressive, physical. Track and field background.
DB Nhyre’ Quinerly (Norfolk State) – 6-0, 195-pounds – Great balance, strong, quick, intelligent, savvy, strong, fight for ball, instinctive, good hand usage and speed, read quarterback well, leader, pick his spots well.
DB Daryus Skinner (Winston Salem State) – 5-11, 180-pounds – True free safety, solid zone defender, communicates well, good hands, make plays on the ball, can be physical, good awareness, covers the well with solid vision, crafty, light on his feet, soft hands.
DB John Wilson (Savannah State) – 6-0, 190-pounds – Quick, strong and strong hands, physical, fearless, calculated, reads well, high motor, solid pads, attacks the ball, aggressive, intense, NFL body.
LB Nigel Chavis (Norfolk State) – 6-2, 230-pounds. Fiery, vocal, aggressive, strong hands, communicate well, decent speed, leverage, shoot angles, shred and squeeze blockers well, gets off the block, strong, good lateral movement.
LB Rico Kennedy (Morgan State) – 6-3, 235-pounds. Instinctive, coachable, quick hands, good feet, solid technique, decent speed, good sideline to sideline, shred off blockers well, can cover underneath zone, cover down field, athletic, balance and control, intuitive.
LB Ian McBorrough (Morgan State) – 6-2, 230-pounds. High motor, play sideline to sideline, shoot gaps, quick off the edge, good technique, good hands, good in space, read quarterback well, get into the backfield, track ball well, strong, decent pad level, solid against the run.
LB Solomon Muhammad (Alcorn State) – 6-1, 235-pounds. Pure-tackler, solid pad level, good feet, strong hands, versatile athlete, above average in speed for position, good technique, holds containment, on toes, balance and control, shreds blockers well, get penetration. was an HBCU All-American and a first-team All-SWAC honoree in 2018. He was also named the 2019 SWAC preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
LB Calvin Lunkins (Southern) – 6-1, 230-pounds. Play sideline to sideline, shoot holes well, strong upper body and hands, aggressive, smart, communicates, reads quarterback well, solid against the run, pure-tackler, decent speed.
LB Durrell Nash (St. Augustine) – 6-2, 235-pounds. Disruptive, good hands, play against the pass well, get pressure on quarterback, athletic, instinctive, communicate, aggressive when necessary, stop the run, explodes on impact, solid technique, has leverage, not easily foul, watch and study quarterback.
DL Darius Royster (North Carolina Central) – 6-2, 215-pounds. Aggressively constant, quick off the snap, explosive, great leverage, strong hands, good feet, high motor, play sideline to sideline, athletic, great lateral movement, balance and control, good hand usage, can speed rush, has several techniques off the ball. Too light for defensive end in the league, skill set translate to linebacker.
DL Jalen Steward (Arkansas-Pine Bluff) – 6-3, 260-pounds. Quick off the snap, shifty, solid lateral movement, aggressive, athletic, good speed, strong hands, good anticipation, gets pressure, good feet.
DL C.J, Anderson (Jackson State) – 6-3, 290-pounds. Fiery, confident, active-strong hands, solid closing speed, good grip, can play in the interior and on the edge, instinctive, patience enough to keep eyes in the backfield, great leverage, slides well between blockers, good motor.
DL Solomon Bassett (Lincoln, PA) – 6-3, 250-pounds. A 2019 Black College Football Player of the Year Award Watch Lister. Freakishly athletic, shed blockers off well, instinctive, explodes on contact, quick off the snap, has inside and outside leverage, high motor, gets penetration, good technique.
DL Brandon Carswell (Delaware State) – 5-11, 250-pounds. Strong, nearly always at the point of contact first, quick, good speed, finisher, good leverage off the edge, active around the line, smart, understand gap assignments, great instincts, gets pressure, intense.
DL Justin Cates (North Carolina A&T) – 6-2, 257-pounds. Great closing speed, overall fast, strong, explodes on impact, technique is great, strong hands, disruptive with speed, high motor, intense, instinctive, light on feet, hard to stop and block off the edge, fiery.
DL Craig Evans (Langston) – 6-1, 327-pounds. Powerful, patience, good feet, can take on double teams, fires off the snap, get penetration, plays angles well, has good hand usage, tough, stay with the play, strong hands.
DL Tyrell Goodwin (South Carolina State) – 6-1, 270-pounds. Shifty, agile, has a good push, good bull rushing technique, strong, powerful when want, balance and control, good hand usage, good feet, good leverage, attacks the ball, won’t quit on any play, fundamentally sound.