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HBCU NFL Prospect Draft Grades

All you need to know about the HBCU prospects in the 2019 NFL draft.

The NFL Draft begins on Thursday, April 25th at 8 pm. When the Arizona Cardinals go “on the clock” the months of speculation and scouting will end as 32 teams will spend seven rounds choosing from the best athletes that college football has to offer.

NFL.com has been busy reviewing the scouting reports and have provided fans with a comprehensive list of almost 500 prospects on their draft tracker. The tracker lists players, bios, strengths, weaknesses and a draft grade which ranges from 9.0- 10 being a “Once-in-lifetime player” to 4.50-4.74 as a player having a “Chance to be in an NFL training camp”.

Of the 496 prospects only eight played at an HBCU and there are some pluses and minuses to the evaluations. The plus is that every player has at least a grade that puts them in an NFL training camp. The minus is that only three players are projected to actually be drafted, the rest listed as priority free agents.

Check out the comprehensive breakdown of every HBCU prospect and their NFL.com scouting report.

Draft Grade Key

9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player

8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro

7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro

7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player

6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player

6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter

5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter

5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential

5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster

5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster

4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp

4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp

NO GRADE Likely needs time in developmental league

TYTUS HOWARD – OL

NFL Pro Scout Day, Friday, March, 8, 2019. Photo by David Campbell/Alabama State University

Prospect Info

COLLEGE: Alabama State

HOMETOWN: Monroeville, AL

CLASS: r-Senior

HEIGHT: 6′ 5″ WEIGHT: 322 lbs ARMS: 34” HANDS: 10 5/8”

Prospect Grade

5.83: CHANCE TO BECOME NFL STARTER

Combine Result

40 Yard Dash: 5.05 SECONDS Bench Press: 21 REPS

Vertical Jump: 29.5 INCHES Broad Jump: 103.0 INCHES

3 Cone Drill: 8.34 SECONDS 20 Yd Shuttle: 4.87 SECONDS

Player Bio

Howard has grown from a high school quarterback and basketball star into a NFL prospect on the offensive line. He redshirted as a tight end for the Hornets in 2014 but managed to work his way onto the field at right tackle the following season (six starts in eight games played). Howard started seven games on the rights side his sophomore year before replacing NFL draft pick Jylan Ware at left tackle, starting all 11 games in 2017. SWAC coaches named him the Hornets’ only first-team all-conference selection in 2018 after he started 10 games at right tackle.

Analysis

Draft Projection: Round 2

NFL Comparison: Desmond Harrison

Overview

Ascending tackle prospect who will require additional work with technique and in the weight room to fully realize his potential. Howard is a gifted athlete with rare quickness and fluidity as both a run and pass blocker and his play issues are correctable with more work. While he will be dinged for level of competition, his upside was on full display with his play against Auburn. He needs development, but he’s much more than a developmental prospect and could find a starter’s spot within his first two years.

Strengths

  • Former high school quarterback with high-end athletic ability
  • Knee-bender who is extremely smooth and fluid in pass sets
  • Plenty of quickness in slides to meet speed specialists at top of the rush arc
  • Mirrors to keep defenders in front of him like a defensive specialist in hoops
  • Attacks rushers with jabs and counters rather than predictable punch
  • Maintains posture while re-setting hands, which protects against counters
  • Locked down Auburn’s edge rushers for most of the matchup
  • Operates with quickness and timing to thrive on second level as run blocker
  • Continues working hips and feet to gain positioning advantage after engagement
  • Plays with pad level and lateral speed to get to toughest backside blocks
  • Excellent potential as move blocker up to second level
  • Good job to steer and seal the edge for sweeps

Weaknesses

  • Hand placement and hand strength needs a lot of work
  • Loses leverage and core strength with misplaced hands
  • Flailing outside hand carries no steam
  • Unable to generate push through leg drive due to lack of lower-body power
  • Gives ground when edge rushers double back into a bull rush
  • Will lean in his pass sets, looking for help to brace up
  • Needs to get hands off quicker and keep from giving away his chest
  • Needs to hit weights in order to add mass and weight
  • Lacks upper-body strength
  • Defaults to bear-hug mauling as base blocker

JOSHUA MILES – OL

Prospect Info

COLLEGE: Morgan State

HOMETOWN: Baltimore, MD

CLASS: r-Senior

HEIGHT: 6′ 5″ WEIGHT: 314 lbs ARMS: 35 5/8” HANDS: 10 3/4”

Prospect Grade

5.32: NFL BACKUP OR SPECIAL TEAMS POTENTIAL

Combine Results

40 Yard Dash: 5.32 SECONDS Bench Press:— REPS

Vertical Jump: 36.0 INCHES Broad Jump: 109.0INCHES

3 Cone Drill: 8.07 SECONDS 20 Yd Shuttle: 4.75SECONDS

Analysis

Draft Projection: Rounds 5-6

Overview

Developmental guard prospect with swing tackle potential possessing elite traits and potentially coachable faults. Miles’ issues are plenty on tape, but they are unrelated to physical or athletic limitations. With just a few days of coaching at the Shrine Game practices, he started to show growth. His lack of instincts are a concern and there is no guarantee his hands and footwork will get corrected, but he has the traits and athletic ability to warrant a Day 3 “lottery scratch-off” selection as a potential low-risk, high-yield pick.

Strengths

  • Good NFL size and great traits
  • Elite length with almost 36-inch arms and 11-inch hands
  • Frame should easily carry additional weight and muscle
  • Generated buzz with his play at Shrine Game practices
  • Plays with desired initial quickness out of his stance
  • Shows ability to unlock and roll his hips into contact
  • Impressive athletic ability in space
  • Has agility and foot quickness to improve with pass mirror
  • Could carry both tackle and guard value

Weaknesses

  • Pass sets will need plenty of work
  • Lacks footwork, balance and does too much leaning in pass pro
  • Hands have to be quicker to take advantage of length
  • Inaccurate hands fly out of target area too often in run and pass
  • Missing instincts to self-adjust and play reactive
  • Below-average power as drive blocker
  • Radar on second level blocks isn’t there yet
  • Shoddy footwork leads to inefficient base and balance
  • Still learning landmarks for cut-offs and block security

QUINTON BELL – DE

Prospect Info

COLLEGE: Prairie View A&M

HOMETOWN: Long Beach, CA

CLASS: Senior

HEIGHT: 6′ 4″ WEIGHT: 219 lbs

Prospect Grade

5.14: BETTER-THAN-AVERAGE CHANCE TO MAKE NFL ROSTER

Player Bio

Bell played wide receiver for A&M for three seasons before moving to defense as a senior. The result was a shot at an NFL career. As a freshman, he played in six games on offense with limited production (2-24-12.0). He scored a touchdown in his sophomore year (9-138-15.3) and was a reserve pass catcher as a junior, as well (8-97-12.1). In 2018, he started 9 of 10 games played at defensive end, leading PVAMU with 7.5 sacks (46 total tackles, 10 for loss) and garnering second-team All-SWAC honors. Bell participated on Prairie View’s track squad during his career.

Analysis

Draft Projection: Round 7-Priority free agent

Overview

The tape does not warrant a draftable grade for the first year defensive player, but with such rare athletic traits at his disposal, he could be viewed as just the type of moldable prospect teams are looking for late in a draft. Bell’s speed and length flashes from time to time, but he is a project that must be built from the ground up starting with basic fundamentals. Development is not guaranteed and will take time, but he could be viewed as a lottery ticket that could pay off if the coaching can click with the traits.

Strengths

  • Tremendously gifted athlete with rare traits
  • Former college sprinter on track team and jumped 41.5 inches and ran a 4.48-second 40-yard dash at 238 pounds at his pro day
  • Possesses long frame with room for additional weight
  • Twitchy in lateral slide to close down running lanes
  • Flashes athletic ability to drop and cover
  • Finished season with five sacks over final four games
  • Big closing burst at his disposal

Weaknesses

  • Just a single season on defensive side of the ball
  • Technique as raw as tartare
  • Lacks skill with hands and allows blockers into frame
  • Forced to think rather than react slowing his play speed
  • Will need to get much stronger to play the run
  • Pass rush lacks instincts and counter moves
  • Needs better decisiveness to fire out of stance and attack rush arc

CHIDI OKEKE – OL

Prospect Info

COLLEGE: Tennessee State

HOMETOWN: Palm Bay, FL

CLASS: Senior

HEIGHT: 6′ 5″ WEIGHT: 317 lbs ARMS: 35 1/4” HANDS: 10 1/8”

Prospect Grade

4.99: SHOULD BE IN AN NFL TRAINING CAMP

Player Bio

Played at Champagnat Catholic in Palm Bay, Fla., before transferring to Faith Baptist in Georgia as a high school senior. Despite not playing football until he arrived in the United States from Nigeria in 2013, he was a five-star prospect who signed with LSU. After a redshirt freshman year at LSU, Okeke played in 11 games in 2016, seeing most of his action on special teams. Because of a lack of playing time, Okeke transferred to Tennessee State, where he played in all 11 games in 2017, starting at left tackle in the final 10. In 2018, he was named to the All-Ohio Valley Conference First Team.

Analysis

Draft Projection: Priority free agent

Overview

Okeke’s size, strength and athletic traits are going to have teams excited upon initial tape work, but additional study will likely show a player still in the infant stages of his journey toward becoming a fundamentally sound pro. His strength at the point of attack combined with a raw approach in pass protection could make a move inside to guard an option. Okeke could be an early stash-and-teach project for teams hoping to extract his full potential.

Strengths

  • Started playing football in 2013 and is still moldable with plenty of room for improvement
  • Five-star prospect who signed with LSU thanks in large part to his size, length, and athletic ability
  • Comes out of his stance and into his work with haste
  • Excellent lateral acceleration into angle blocks running his feet and washing away defenders
  • Tape shows ability to drive from in-steps into base blocks to generate movement
  • Plus upper-body strength jostles opponents with a quick shove
  • Has foot quickness and athletic talent teams covet from big tackles in pass protection
  • Can become a menace with ability to jump-set and eliminate his opponent’s pass rush before it begins
  • Adequate use of length for recovery after getting beat in pass pro

Weaknesses

  • Lack of fundamentals and instincts can be alarming at times
  • Needs much better footwork and weight distribution in pass sets to have a chance against NFL rushers
  • Overly urgent out of stance causing him to overshoot targets and allow defenders to win across his inside post
  • Seems to be a step slow with hands and gives away his frame more than he should
  • Uses wide, enveloping hands to capture rather than inside hands to control
  • Shows his hands too soon and could be mismatched against plus hand-fighters across from him. Inefficient in movements and just doesn’t seem to have a great feel for timing at this point.

JAMIE GILLAN – K/P

Prospect Info

COLLEGE: Arkansas-Pine Bluff

HOMETOWN: Leonardtown, MD

CLASS: Senior

HEIGHT: 6′ 1″ WEIGHT: 207 lbs ARMS: 30 1/8” HANDS: 8 7/8”

Prospect Grade

4.95: SHOULD BE IN AN NFL TRAINING CAMP

Player Bio

Gillian is known as “The Scottish Hammer” because he grew up in the Highlands of Scotland before coming to the United States for his final two years of high school. He excelled at rugby in his youth, which led him to kick for his new high school team in Leonardtown, Maryland. Arkansas-Pine Bluff signed him to a scholarship and he contributed as a freshman punter (5-224-44.8, two fair catches, two inside the 20; 10-11 extra points, four FG). Gillan was the team’s kicker (5-12 field goals, long 46) and punter (71-2,949-41.5, 17 inside 20, 10 fair catches) in 2016, also handling kickoff duties (3 of 33 for touchbacks). His consistency improved all-around in his junior campaign, averaging 43.7 yards per punt to be named first-team All-SWAC (55-2,405, 14 fair catches, 17 inside 20), making 13 of 21 field goal attempts (long 52), and causing 12 touchbacks on 43 kickoffs. Gillan was first-team all-conference as a kicker (20-29 FG, long 47; 30-61 touchbacks on kickoffs) and punter (71-3,105-42.5, 21 fair catches, 27 inside 20) in 2018.

Analysis

Draft Projection: Priority free agent

Overview

Versatile kicker with a background in kickoffs, field goals and punting. Gillan is likely to be scouted as a punter, but he’s more than capable of handling emergency kicking duties if called upon. He can expedite punts if needed with good leg speed and flexibility and those traits could lead to an increased net punting average with more work.

Strengths

  • Handles the punting and kicking duties
  • Made 16 of 19 field goals from 30-49 yards in 2018
  • Punts with good leg whip in his follow-through
  • Leg strength to pound it with plus hang-time
  • Punted 50-plus yards just over 26 percentage of his attempts.

Weaknesses

  • Touchback percentage on kickoffs is below average
  • Missed all 50-plus field goals this season
  • Needs to learn to adjust trajectory vs wind

ALEX BROWN – CB

Prospect Info

COLLEGE: South Carolina State

HOMETOWN: Holy Hill, SC

CLASS: Senior

HEIGHT: 5′ 10″ WEIGHT: 183 lbs ARMS: 33” HANDS: 9”

Prospect Grade

4.93: SHOULD BE IN AN NFL TRAINING CAMP

Player Bio

Brown has been a productive player for the Gamecocks the past three years. He played in 10 games in 2016 (26 tackles, seven pass breakups), then became a playmaker in 2017, topping his team with 11 pass breakups and tying for the team lead with three interceptions (also making 22 tackles). He started 11 games in 2018, garnering second-team All-MEAC honors and posting 42 tackles, two for loss, and setting team highs with four interceptions and eight pass breakups.

Analysis

Draft Projection: Priority free agent

Overview

Explosive, fast athlete with the size of a nickel cornerback but lacking the play traits for a smooth transition inside. Brown has decent ball production and his monster workout numbers will have teams scrambling for additional tape, but he needs plenty of additional work with his patience, footwork and route recognition. His length and recovery speed are major check marks in his favor, but a practice squad spot could be the goal as he continues to work on the fundamentals of the position.

Strengths

  • Fast and extremely explosive
  • Blew the doors off of his pro day with 4.42-second 40-yard dash and 41.5-inch vertical leap
  • Outstanding arm length for a cornerback
  • Fluid hips can swivel into transitions
  • Twitchy breaks to the throw from side shuffle
  • Plays with strength to re-route and stall the release
  • Leaping and length aid ball production
  • Posted seven interceptions and 19 pass breakups over the last two years

Weaknesses

  • Needs better patience from press
  • Quick to declare feet and hips to a release fake
  • Below-average foot agility to mirror
  • Undisciplined in man coverage with footwork
  • Feet stall at the top when attempting to plant and drive from a pedal
  • Can be manipulated too easily by the route
  • Big receivers able to play over him on perimeter
  • Lacks desired physicality as tackler in run support

DARRYL JOHNSON – DL

Prospect Info

COLLEGE: North Carolina A&T

HOMETOWN: Kingsland, GA

CLASS: r-Junior

HEIGHT: 6′ 6″253 lbs WEIGHT: 33 7/8” ARMS: HANDS10”

Prospect Grade

4.92: SHOULD BE IN AN NFL TRAINING CAMP

Player Bio

Johnson is trying to make it three straight years that an A&T player is selected in the NFL draft (RB Tarik Cohen in 2017, OT Brandon Parker in 2018). He was ultra-productive during his time in North Carolina, earning first-team FCS All-American honors and the MEAC Defensive Player of the Year award after racking up 50 tackles and finishing among the FCS leaders with 19 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks in 12 games (11 starts). Johnson was a first-team All-MEAC selection in 2017, starting 12 games and posting 40 tackles, 15.5 for loss, 6.5 sacks, and four forced fumbles. The Georgia native played in 12 games as a redshirt freshman in 2016, recording 26 tackles, 6.5 for loss, and two sacks.

Analysis

Draft Projection: Priority free agent

Overview

High-cut, long-limbed edge rusher whose production in his final year does not appear to be translatable to the next level without much more work. Johnson is a Groundhog Day pass-rusher who shows tackles the exact same rush patch and tactics snap after snap. He needs to diversify his rush, get his hands involved earlier and add more muscle on his frame to improve his pro chances. His lack of lower-body flexibility might be tough to overcome, but he does have intriguing length and a frame that should get bigger with time.

Strengths

  • Long-limbed frame set to take on more muscle
  • Massive wingspan
  • Known as a voracious worker in the off-season
  • Durable, high energy performer
  • Tackle-for-loss production has been strong throughout
  • Takes aggressive inside shots that find penetration
  • Has experience standing and with hand in the ground
  • Uses shoulder dip and upper-body turn to sneak around tackles
  • Adequate closing burst to quarterback
  • Has some man- and zone-coverage background on his tape
  • Good lateral foot quickness on swims inside

Weaknesses

  • Plays with tightness in lower body
  • Minimum knee bend and flexibility at the top of his rush
  • Can be pushed upright and off-track by average punch
  • Pass rush is always the same and lacks go-to counter
  • High-cut and lacks play strength in his base
  • Below-average contact balance
  • Needs to use his length and hands more effectively
  • Manhandled by strength when setting edge
  • Performed against lower level of competition

COREY HOLMES – WR

Prospect Info

COLLEGE: Morgan State

HOMETOWN: Ft. Lauderdale, FL

CLASS: r-Senior

HEIGHT: 6′ 1″ WEIGHT: 185 lbs ARMS: 32” HANDS: 9”

Prospect Grade

4.88: SHOULD BE IN AN NFL TRAINING CAMP

Player Bio

Considered one of the top 100 prospects in the country coming out of famed St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Holmes signed with Notre Dame before the 2014 season. After seeing limited action in three years with the Irish (11 catches for 96 yards, 8.8 average in 14 games), he decided to transfer to Purdue for the 2017 season. His playing time did not increase with the Boilermakers, however, recording just one catch for 7 yards in four games. Holmes’ father, David, was a defensive back at Syracuse and was drafted in the fourth round by Miami in 1989.

Analysis

Draft Projection: Undrafted free agent

Overview

Notre Dame transfer who only fared marginally better at Morgan State relative to expected production. Holmes checks the size and athletic boxes necessary to play in the league, but he needs to play much tougher and with crisper routes to have any shot at making a practice squad.Strengths

  • Played multiple wide receiver positions for his offense
  • Explosive tester at his pro day
  • Outstanding arm length for receiver
  • Father was an NFL draft pick in the fourth round of 1989 draft
  • Good vertical push to set up comebacks
  • Sinks low for quicker deceleration into breaks
  • Plays with good short-area twitch for adjustments to wide throws

Weaknesses

  • Disappointing college production relative to his traits
  • Needs to get out of turns with better burst
  • Slows when turning to find the ball
  • Very average feel for making plays after the catch
  • Focus wanes in the middle of the field
  • Will alligator arm it if defender is lurking and ready to strike

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