The need and want for NFL talent is always in high demand. And nearly no rock is being left unturned. Except for the rocks at the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) programs as those covered gems still manage to be laying out in the open.
Fortunately, the notion that consistent value from the HBCU brand can not be found will soon be dismissed due to the initiative of NFL Football Operations of establishing the HBCU Combine platform.
Though the HBCU Combine was canceled due to coronavirus pandemic, the influence of the annual discovery stage still had some effect as nine talents received the ‘phone call,’ including the sole draftee in former Tennessee State guard LaChavious Simmons.
Former South Carolina State offensive tackle Alex Taylor was the only HBCU standout invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. And he was not drafted, but signed with the Cleveland Browns.
Simmons was one of the NFL hopefuls who was a part of the HBCU Combine grouping, along with the six others who made the 2020 NFL class nine strong.
How does the 2020 HBCU grouping compare to the 2019 collection of talents as nine players were welcomed to the league last season?
Let’s find out.
2019 HBCU Listings of Signings
-Houston Texans – T Tytus Howard (Alabama State), 1st-Round pick (23rd-overall
Undrafted Free Agent Signings
-Atlanta Falcons – LB Yurik Bethune (Alabama State) – Currently in the CFL with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats
-Baltimore Ravens – DB Terrell Bonds (Tennessee State) – Still with the Ravens
-Cleveland Browns – P Jamie Gillan (Arkansas Pine-Bluff) – Still with the Browns
LB Anthony Stubbs (Prairie View A&M) – Previously in the XFL
-Indianapolis Colts – DT Sterling Shippy (Alcorn State) – Currently in the CFL with the Saskatchewan Roughriders
-Tennessee Titans – LB Stefan Banks (Savannah State) – Not playing currently
-Washington Redskins – T Juwann Bushell-Beatty (Tennessee State) – Not playing currently
T Chidi Okeke (Tennessee State) – Not playing currently
Three of the nine HBCU players who signed at some capacity with a NFL are currently in the league.
And Howard, Bonds and Gillan was a part of the collection of gems from the HBCU brand (32) for the 2019 NFL campaign.
2020 HBCU Listing of Signings
NOTE (*) – represents players who were invited to the HBCU Combine
-Chicago Bears – *G LaChavious Simmons (Tennessee State) 7th-round (227th-overall)
Explosive off the ball, athletic, fast, elite speed for position, great lateral movement, powerful, great feet, versatile, despite center – can play every position on offensive line, strong hands, unbeatable one-on-one.
Undrafted HBCU Players Signed
-Atlanta Falcons – *WR Chris Rowland (Tennessee State)
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.
-Cleveland Browns – T Alex Taylor (South Carolina State)
-Detroit Lions- *S Bobby Price (Norfolk State)
Intense, athletic, good speed and hands, solid foot work, fearless, uses size well, decent cover skills, rarely surrenders the inside, patient yet aggressive, physical. Track and field background.
-Green Bay Packers – *QB Jalen Morton (Prairie View A&M)
Throws the deep ball well with accuracy, extends plays well from the pocket, has velocity on his balls, looks to pass first, mobile when necessary, strong, commands the huddle, not the fastest but knows how to get to his spot, decent touch, works the sideline well, elusive.
– *TE/FB Jordan Jones (Prairie View)
-Philadelphia Eagles- *WR Manasseh Bailey (Morgan State)
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, protects ball with body, decent in traffic, quick off snap, more of possession receiver, better in redzone, decent hand technique, balance, blocker.
-New York Giants – *CB Christian Angulo (Hampton)
Great feet, plays the ball well, keeps eye on quarterback, shields well with body, good speed, savvy, solid anticipation, rarely gives up the inside, confident, does not gamble, team guy, solid pad level, fundamentally sound, good technique.
-Tennessee Titans – DT Kobe Smith (South Carolina State)
The skill set of the 2020 HBCU pioneers is strong and each player can excel in special teams. For the standouts who will take advantage of this opportunity, it solidify the importance of the HBCU Combine trial next year.
The legitimacy of the HBCU Combine listing generated some interest, but adjustments still need to be made collectively with the schools, its coaches, NFL scouts and NFL personnel.
Soon, with this new movement powered by NFL Football Operations and the HBCU Combine platform, there will be no excuses as all rocks will be turned over for talent, and the HBCU brand will be relevant in the NFL once again.
Beginning this summer, and this season.