The Combine Report: 2020 NFL Draft – HBCU,Ready Defensive Talents – Where They Fit

Draft Grading, Featuring Defensive HBCU Talents With NFL Qualities

Out of the 32 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) players in the NFL last season, 16 defensive standouts were on rosters. 

That should change for the 2020 NFL campaign.

Out of those 16, eight were selected in an 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. 

NEW ORLEANS – JANUARY 16: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie #29 of the Arizona Cardinals looks on against the New Orleans Saints during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Louisana Superdome on January 16, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints won 45-14. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Potentially, there may be an additional member following the 2020 NFL Draft.

In the Pro Football Hall of Fame, there are 16 HBCU defensive players immortalized.

Now, we are far away from that, so let’s pump the brakes. However, there must be a start, and someone from this year’s class may have a chance. But that’s a tremendous hill to climb, a mountain these HBCU gems are willing to ascend.

RELATED ARTICLE: The Combine Report: 2020 NFL Draft – HBCU,Ready Offensive Talents – Where They Fit

Clearly, the presence of the HBCU brand has not been felt in the NFL for the past several decades. Due to the intivitive of NFL Football Operations, the opportunity field was able to be leveled with the inception of the HBCU Combine.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the game changer in the HBCU Combine was canceled.

But what wasn’t canceled, is the athletes’ will, desire, and the process – meaning the journey.

Through the vision of NFL Football Operations, the NFL Regional Combine platform hosts nearly 6,200 athletes as the opportunity branch that placed NFL hopefuls in front true NFL decision-makers, dating back to 2012 when the NFL Regional Combine was instituted.

Jawill Davis/Google Images

For the HBCU community, in terms of the NFL Regional Combine, 12 programs from the proud institutions were represented, and 16 players signed with an NFL squad at some capacity.

With the need and desire to produce more HBCU talents for the NFL, it’s important to purposely invest into the exposure for these proud institutions, for which FOPs is leading the charge, and cause.

Despite the absence of the HBCU Combine, which will take place next year, the selected talents for the first annual would-have-been workout session will not be ignored or forgotten.

Especially when defensive gems are always needed to win championships



Solomon Muhammad/Google Images

Projected Round(s) 5th to 7th Round 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.


Any NFC and AFC North squad

Any NFC South squad

Any AFC West squad

Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans


NCAA 2018: Tennessee State vs Vanderbilt at Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday September 29th, 2018. Photo by Austyn McFadden / fi360 News

Projected Round(s) 5th to 7th Round 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.


Any AFC West squad

Any AFC South or NFC South squad

NFC East squad

San Francisco 49ers


Christian Angulo/Google Images

Projected Round(s) 5th to 7th Round 6-2, 194-pounds 

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, fundamental sound, good technique.


Any NFC East squad

Any AFC South squad

Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons


Auburn Tigers running back JaTarvious Whitlow (28) runs though the tackle of Alabama State Hornets defensive back Joshua Hill (24) during the first half of Saturday’s game, at Jordan Hare Stadium in Auburn, AL. (Contributed by Jeff Johnsey)

Projected Round (s) 6th or 7th Round 5-10, 196-pounds. 

Great anticipation, understands route combinations to defend, good hands and usage, good speed, elite closing speed, tracks ball well, plays the run, explodes on impact, great pad level, sinks down in coverage, does not play too high, solid fundamentals, great technique, good bounce, aggressive.


Any AFC North squad

Any NFC or AFC South squad

Any NFC West squad

Washington Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs


Darius Royster/Google Images

Projected Rounds (s) 5th to 7th Round 6-2, 215-pounds.

Aggressively constant, quick off the snap, explosive, great leverage, strong hands, good feet, high motor, plays 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 translates to linebacker.


Any AFC East squad

Any AFC or NFC West squad

Detriot Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars


Solomon Bassett/Google Images

DL Solomon Bassett (Lincoln, PA) – 6-3, 250-pounds. A 2019 Black College Football Player of the Year Award Watch Lister. Freakishly athletic, sheds blockers off well, instinctive, explodes on contact, quick off the snap, has inside and outside leverage, high motor, gets penetration, good technique.


Any AFC or NFC East squad

Any NFC or AFC North squad

DB Robert Cummings (Benedict) – 6-0, 185-pounds – Explodes through his hips, great technique, strong and great hands, tracks ball like a receiver, aggressive towards the ball, physical, intense, provides run support, solid against the run, essential pad level, always leads with shoulders, squares up properly, active hands.


Any NFC West squad

Any AFC North squad

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Houston Texans, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears

DB Bobby Price (Norfolk State) – 6-4, 205-pounds – 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.


Any AFC North squad

Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons

DB Nhyre’ Quinerly (Norfolk State) – 6-0, 195-pounds – Great balance, strong, quick, intelligent, savvy, strong, fights for ball, instinctive, good hand usage and speed, reads quarterback well, leader, picks his spots well.


Any AFC or NFC West squad

Jacksonville Jaguars, Atlanta Falcons

DB Daryus Skinner (Winston Salem State) – 5-11, 180-pounds – True free safety, solid zone defender, communicates well, good hands, makes plays on the ball, can be physical, good awareness, covers well with solid vision, crafty, light on his feet, soft hands.


Any NFC East squad

Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars

DB John Wilson (Savannah State) – 6-0, 190-pounds – Quick, strong hands, physical, fearless, calculated, reads well, high motor, solid pads, attacks the ball, aggressive, intense, NFL body.


Any NFC West squad

Any NFC North squad

LB Rico Kennedy (Morgan State) – 6-3, 235-pounds. Instinctive, coachable, quick hands, good feet, solid technique, decent speed, good sideline to sideline, sheds off blockers well, can cover underneath zone, covers down field, athletic, balance and control, intuitive.


Any AFC or NFC North squad

LB Ian McBorrough (Morgan State) – 6-2, 230-pounds. High motor, plays sideline to sideline, shoost gaps, quick off the edge, good technique, good hands, good in space, reads quarterback well, gets into the backfield, tracks ball well, strong, decent pad level, solid against the run.


Any AFC or NFC North squad

Any AFC South squad

Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers

LB Nigel Chavis (Norfolk State) – 6-2, 230-pounds. Fiery, vocal, aggressive, strong hands, communicates well, decent speed, leverage, shoots angles, shred and squeeze blockers well, gets off the block, strong, good lateral movement.


Any AFC or NFC West squad

Any AFC or NFC East squad

Durrell Nash/Google Images

LB Durrell Nash (St. Augustine) – 6-2, 235-pounds. Disruptive, good hands, plays against the pass well, gets pressure on quarterback, athletic, instinctive, communicates, aggressive when necessary, stops the run, explodes on impact, solid technique, has leverage, not easily foul, watches and studies quarterback.

Any AFC or NFC South squad

Any AFC West squad

Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions

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, patient enough to keep eyes in the backfield, great leverage, slides well between blockers, good motor.


Any NFC North squad

Any NFC South squad

Any AFC North squad


DB Sterling Hammond (Virginia Union) – 6-1, 205-pounds – Great closing speed, makes plays on the ball, patient, instinctive, aggressive, good break on ball, provides good run support, balance, physical, smart.

DB Joseph McWilliams (Grambling) – 5-10, 180-pounds – Complete athlete, good speed, playmaking potential, great hands and feet, excels on special teams, instinctive, high motor, great vision, good anticipation, strong hands, can be physical when needed.

LB Calvin Lunkins (Southern) – 6-1, 230-pounds. Plays sideline to sideline, shoots holes well, strong upper body and hands, aggressive, smart, communicates, reads quarterback well, solid against the run, pure-tackler, decent speed.

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