Familiar with the term, ‘there’s enough money for everyone?’ Well, that applies to football as well, there’s room for everyone. It just has to be made.
The 2020 NFL HBCU Combine will assist in providing the space Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) players need to showcase that they can compete, offensively, on the highest level of football.
From the HBCU platform, 15 offensive HBCU players suited up for the 2019 NFL campaign. Eight of those 15 had the honor of having their name called in draft day, including tackle Tytus Howard (Alabama State) who was selected by the Houston Texans in the first round (23rd-overall) in the 2019 NFL Draft.
The HBCU Combine will not guarantee that these selected HBCU offensive talents will be afforded an opportunity to Las Vegas for the 2020 NFL Draft or have the name called. However, this physical review process can open the door for a phone call after the third day of the draft.
Many small school talents get overlooked each year, but majority of them are not skilled enough to play on Sunday afternoons.
For several years, the NFL Regional Combine platform has been the filter for the NFL scouts and league decision-makers. Through its success, it only makes sense for another filter to be implemented in the process to unearth a shoulda, coulda be to a definite.
Enter the 2020 NFL HBCU Combine as it will target the once prominent pipeline that fueled the NFL machine in the mid-to-late 60’s and early-to-mid 70’s.
There are more defensive HBCU players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Still, offensive players blazed the trail for the institutions.
Quarterback Tank Younger (Grambling) was the first player from an HBCU program to play in the NFL, spanning from 1949 to 1958. He played linebacker as well.
Doug Williams was the first African-American quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl, and perhaps, the greatest NFL player of all-time came from Mississippi Valley State in wide receiver Jerry Rice.
And we can not forget running back Walter Payton, who has been labeled by many as the best running back to ever wear cleats. The Jackson State University great was so mightily impactful, the NFL named perhaps the most prestigious award after him – the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
Will there be another Rice or Payton in the mix? That is to be determined. But will there be an opportunity to potentially discover someone special?
Thanks to NFL Football Operations, absolutely.
Let’s end the ‘shoulda,’ ‘coulda’ and make room for some definite.
QB Ryan Stanley (FLORIDA A&M) – 6-3, 210-pounds – Pro-style quarterback, manipulate pocket well, good feet, solid mechanics, ball is not flat, has zip, delivers well on the run, especially to his right, solid pocket presence, read through his progression, keep ball high and close to ball, delivers ball quickly, good touch over the middle, accuracy down field, leader.
QB Deondre Francois (Hampton) – 6-1, 220-pounds – Play-Action quarterback, strong, accurate, has a good touch, quick feet, mobile, athletic, read defenses, can go through progressions, can throw on the run, hard to bring down, good pocket presence, smart, can make all the NFL throw, savvy, talented for the position.
QB Jalen Morton (Prairie View A&M) – 6-4, 226-pounds. Throw the deep ball well with accuracy, extend plays well from the pocket, has velocity on his balls, look to pass first, mobile when necessary, strong, commands the huddle, not the fastest but know how to get to his spot, decent touch, work the sideline well, elusive.
T Marcus Pettiford (North Carolina A&T) – 6-4, 286-pounds – Quick feet, solid hand usage, attack second level, gets hands on linebackers, great speed for position, strong hands, good reach, effective run blocker, aggressive.
OL Lachavious Simmons (Tennessee State) 6-5, 334-pounds – Explosive off the ball, athletic, fast, elite speed for position, filthy, great lateral movement, powerful, great feet, versatile, despite center – can play every position on offensive line, strong hands, unbeatable one-on-one.
OL Jeremiah Abby (Southern) – 6-4, 328-pounds – A dominant defender, solid pass blocker, strong, agile, smart, aggressive, good feet and hand usage
OL Frank Ball (Virginia State) – 6-3, 275-pounds – Agile, strong and powerful, dominating, great at getting to the outside, fast, quick off the snap, mean, aggressive, strong hands, good feet, finisher, great balance and control, unbreakable grip.
OL Donald Boone (Chowan) – 6-5, 310-pounds – Great technique and hand usage, balance and control, solid footwork, great catching ability especially in the flat, aggressive, nasty, quick, solid pass protector, seals the edge, protects the middle, agile, finish defenders to the ground, strong, a pure tackle.
OL Thomas Burton (Tennessee State) – 6-2, 305-pounds – Quick hands and feet, intense, good motor, strong, smart, calculated, good balance and control, discipline.
OL Jean Cyriaque (Morehouse) – 6-3, 290-pounds – Open and turn his hips well especially from the inside, keeps arm high and extended, mobile, agile, strong, instinctive, recognize defensive stunt assignments, not easily fooled, great feet and hands, balance, forceful, smart, savvy, solid gap protector, legitimate pulling guard, pure guard both left and right.
OL Keanu Gonzales (Shaw) – 6-4, 310-pounds – Solid interior blocker, good push off the snap, good feet and hands, better suited for run blocking, tough, has a mean streak, physical, light on feet.
OL Jodeci Harris (Southern) – 6-7, 315-pounds – Seal the edge well, keep defenders high and off balance, solid inside technique, slide and open hips well, good feet, strong hands, decent in getting to the outside, patience, discipline, has balance and control.
RB Jordan Bentley (Alabama A&M) – 6-1, 195-pounds. – Holds eight school records, including rushing yards. Finished final season with 1,417 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns (fourth best in the nation). Patience, quick first step, goes into a second gear in the second level, decent in space, agile for his size, decent pad level, strong, solid after contact and vision, physical, but can get away, versatile – can play in the secondary.
RB Taeyler Porter (Ark. Pine Bluff) – 5-10, 185-pounds. Preseason All-American Third Team. Finished his senior season with 1,027 rushing yards off 192 carries and 12 touchdowns. Caught 15 passes for 209 yards and a touchdown. Shifty, great feet, stop-start-go excellent, strong, tough, agile, good balance, quick, elite speed for the position, difficult to bring down, protects the ball, dangerous in the open field, especially on a screen, great vision.
RB Dawonya Tucker (Prairie View) 5-5, 180-pounds. – Finished senior season with 1,121 rushing yards, off 180 carries, and 15 touchdowns. Finished eighth in the country in all-purpose yards at 1,617, averaging 147 yards per outing. Electric, shifty, incredibly balance and control, decent hands out the backfield, keep ball high and tight, explosive in the open and traffic, solid stop-start-go, calculated, quick first step, plant-and-go, short, but strong and surprisingly powerful for statue, confident, legitimate playmaker, slippery, determine.
RB De’Shawn Waller (Alcorn State) 5-11, 209-pounds. STATS FCS All-America Third-Team. HBCU All-America. SWAC Newcomer of the Year. SWAC All-Conference First-Team. Finished with 1,215 rushing yards, including 12 touchdowns in 10 games in 2018. Great feet and awareness, has bounce, excellent stop-start-go ability, patience, hits the hole, feet always moving, balance, use blockers well, good vision, go the distance, stamina, elusive. Sustained an injury after the eighth game of the season.
WR Manasseh Bailey (Morgan State) – 6-1, 195-pounds. – Finished senior campaign with 54 receptions for 996 yards and ten touchdowns. Also had a punt returned for a score. Once played linebacker. Soft hands, physical, protect ball with body, decent in traffic, quick off snap, more of possession receiver, better in redzone, decent hand technique, balance, blocker.
Elijah Bell (North Carolina A&T) – 6-1, 225-pounds. – Good upper strength, physical, aggressive in bump-and-run coverage, strong hands, good hand usage, makes hand-catches, body control, does not shy from contact, intense, keeps ball up and tight, stiff arm essential, block well down field, solid in traffic, locate his spots.
WR Chris Rowland (Tennessee State) – 5-8, 170-pounds. – Named Ohio Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year. Finished his senior season as the nation’s leader in receiving yards (1,437), averaged 119.8 receiving yards per game. He finished second in all-purpose yards per game at 175.83 and third best average in receptions at 8.7. Shifty, break away speed, great vision, feet, hands and awareness, outstanding in traffic, balance, control, dangerous out the backfield as a receiver, play slot and split out. Solid return specialist.
WR/RET/RB Jimmie Robinson (Bethune-Cookman) – 5-8, 185-pounds. – On 86 plays, Robinson amassed 1,389 total yards (844 return yards, 468 receiving yards and 77 rushing yards) and five touchdowns. Solid return specialist, playmaking potential on every touch, explosive, quick, balance and control, elite breakaway speed, not easy to bring down, great in open space, good hands, great feet, savvy, confident, emotional.
WR Marcus Williams (Florida A&M) – 5-11, 185-pounds – Decent hands, reliable, good return specialist, soft hands, quick, good possession receiver, fearless, excellent speed, good in space.
WR Steven Newbold (Tennessee State) – 5-10, 185-pounds – Elusive, electric, athletic (always acrobatic), great stop-start-and-go, plant-and-go, great feet and hands, has great concentration, balance, good vision and awareness, rarely let ball touch body, excellent speed, has breakaway talent, great in space, agile.
WR Kyle Anthony (Howard) – 6-3, 205-pounds – Processes quickly, adaptable in any system, physical, discipline, catches ball at highest point, physical, catch well in traffic, make hand catches, strong hands, good feet and speed, finish strong after the catch, poise.
WR De’Montrez Burroughs (South Carolina State) 6-2, 218-pounds – Good route runner, solid in traffic, tough over the middle, soft hands, great feet, physical, quick in tight spaces, elusive, agile, good awareness and vision, can catch deep, danger in the slot, confident.
TE DuShon David (Bowie State) – 6-3, 230-pounds – Good possession target, strong, good in speed, decent speed, great awareness, stay in quarterback sights, good vision, knows his spot, catch ball at highest point.
TE Kevonta Moses (Shaw) – 6-0, 238-pounds – Disciplined route runner, sharp in his cuts, great hands, catch well in traffic, good speed in the open field, find his spots, detailed, smart, tough, can be physical, calculated, soft hands, good feet, good turn-and-go, athletic, dangerous against zone coverage, surprising quick, gifted pass catcher.
TE Jordan Jones (Prairie View A&M) – 6-1, 250-pounds