2010 NFL Draft Sleepers – Defense

Central Florida safety Michael Greco is one of Taking It to the House’s Sleepers for the 2010 NFL Draft

Though the majority of players taken in the NFL Draft usually come from BCS schools – in the 2009 NFL Draft little over 72% of the players selected were from the 6 BCS Conferences.— everyone is enamored with finding a “sleeper”.  Every year around draft time, whether it is friends or on the radio, everyone wants me to identify a “superstar in waiting” that no one is talking about.

Well everyone…I am here to tell you that there are no longer any true “sleepers” in the NFL Draft process.  Trust me — if you have talent, NFL teams with their gaggle of scouts, assistant coaches, GM’s, and others scouring football fields everywhere will find you.  Now smaller school players are even making it easier for NFL teams to scout them by creating recruiting type videos for YouTube and other media outlets.

Some “Diamonds in the Rough” prospects for the 2010 NFL Draft on the defensive side of the ball: 

DE/OLB Arthur Moats, James Madison — A high-motor smaller (6’0, 246) pass rusher who was dominant at the FCS level.  Moats led JMU with 90 tackles, 11 sacks  and 23 tackles for loss (led all of FCS).  The 2009 Buck Buchanan Award as the FCS division’s best defender, Moats is a tenacious pass rusher who should be a good 3-4 OLB at the next level.

DE Austen Lane, Murray State – A small school two-way defensive end that combines size (6-7, 270) and quickness (4.65).  Lane was dominant at the FCS level as he was unblockable at times.  Has long arms that help him bat-down passes and block kicks (4 career blocked kicks.  A good run stuffer, who is also a double-digit sack guy.

DE Christian Anthony, Grambling State — An incredibly gifted defensive end that reminds some of former Alabama A&M and Indianapolis Colts star Robert Mathis.  Anthony (6-4, 246) finished fourth in voting for the Buck Buchanan Award and was voted the 2009 SWAC Defensive Player of the Year.  The Birmingham, Alabama native led the SWAC in solo tackles (55) and finished with 76 tackles overall.  Anthony also contributed 8 sacks, 15 tackles for loss, 5 forced fumbles, 3 recoveries and five interceptions (returning 2 for touchdowns).

OLB/DE Junior Galette, Stillman — A defensive end and who looks like an NFL outside linebacker candidate, Galette (6-2, 255) transferred from Temple for his senior season at Stillman. A high-motor player, Galette led the SIAC with 9.5 sacks and also ranked 3rd in conference for tackles for losses (17.5 for minus 100 yards). In just 9 games, he recorded 56 tackles including 37 solo stops. Also had 12 quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles plus blocked a field goal.  Had a strong 2010 NFL Combine where he was timed at 4.63 in the forty.

OLB/DE Marcus Crump, St. Augustine’s — A lanky high energy pass rusher that reminds me of a young Jason Taylor.  Crump (6-6, 240) finished the 2009 season second in the CIAA in sacks (10) and 3rd in tackles for loss (15). The All-CIAA defensive end also ranked in DII in those respective categories 7th in sacks and 25th in tackles for loss.

DT Callahan Bright, Shaw – After a circuitous college with stops at Florida State, prep school, and junior college, this former highly recruited high school prospect found a home at DII school Shaw.  Bright (6-2, 315) is a cat-quick defensive lineman who also plays with great strength.  Bright had a decent season by DII DT standards, posting 48 tackles including 7.5 for loss.  Likened to Eagles DT Broderick Bunkley.

OLB/DE  Jeremy Maddox, Alabama A&M — An explosive pass rusher with a good first step.  Reminds me of Kansas City Chiefs sack man Tamba Hali.  Maddox (6-0, 244) was a two-time All-SWAC selection and finalist for the Buchanan Award.  Just knows how to get to the passer as shown by his 12 sacks (2nd in FCS).

OLB/DE  Adrian Tracy, William & Mary – A very dominant small school pass rusher that was unstoppable the last 2 years  as he produced 22 sacks and 37.5 tackles for loss.  Tracy (6-3, 242) reminds some NFL scouts of Philadelphia Eagles sack man Trent Cole as he has a quick first step and is tenacious rushing the passer.

DT Sean Lissemore, William & Mary – After an impressive Pro Day(4.82 in 40-yd, 7.57 in the 3-cone drill, and 26 reps of 225), everyone has their eye on this penetrating defensive tackle.  Lissemore (6-3, 297) reminds some of former Bucs D-lineman Chris Hovan as he is strong and quick.   The former W&M star was first team all-conference honors finishing 66 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and two interceptions in 2009. Also played well in the Texas vs. Nation All-Star Game versus bigger competition.

CB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Indiana (PA) – His first name means “Born on Sunday.” A very good small school corner that looks like a perfect Cover-2 player.  Owusu-Ansah (6-1, 195, 4.50) has the size and speed that NFL defensive coordinators are looking for.  Was impressive at the DII level as he dominated despite recovering from a shoulder injury.  A very good corner, but it is his special team’s play that NFL teams really like — scored 9 TDs in his career on returns, including four on punts and three on kickoffs. Owusu-Ansah holds school records for punt return yards (788), punt return average (11.4) and kickoff return yards (1,282).

CB Patrick Stoudamire, Western Illinois – Probably the top non-D1 defensive prospect in the 2010 draft.  Stoudamire (5-10, 200, 4.42) definitely has ability that is close to top corners Joe Haden (Florida) and Kyle Wilson (Boise State).  With good size, speed, and agility, this small school player has the instincts to be a very good cover corner.  Is very good at recovering and also breaking on the football.

CB/KR LeRoy Vann, Florida A&M — This former walk-on was arguably the most explosive player in all of college football (FCS or BCS).  Vann (5-9, 179) who was featured in Sports Illustrated and ESPN’s SportsCenter, finishing his college career as the FCS record holder for career returns for scores (11  overall with 8 punts and 3 kickoffs).  An elusive returner, who many are comparing to a slower version of Bears former Pro Bowl player Devin Hester, this season had 6 return touchdowns (3 punts and 3 kickoffs). While finishing with eye-popping numbers: 28 punts for 462 yards (16.5-yard average) and 3 TDs plus 38 kickoffs for 1,121 yards (29.5-yard average) and 3 TDs.  Vann – 1st team All-American selection in FCS — finished his stellar college career as the fifth player in FCS history to record over 1,000 yards on both kickoff and punt returns.  He also impressed scouts by being named the MVP of the inaugural HBCU Bowl all-star game after returning a punt 81 yards for a touchdown.

S Michael Greco, Central Florida – A former quarterback who has drawn comparisons to John Lynch when he entered the NFL.  Greco (6-3, 217, 4.40) didn’t convert to DB until late in his college career, but he is a smart tough player.  In 2009, the former UCF signal caller  finished with 45 tackles and  broke up 4 passes in only 7 starts.  Greco continued his rise up draft boards with a solid Pro Day — ran under 4.40 seconds in the 40-yd, jumped 41.5 inches vertically and banged out 22 reps of 225-lbs.

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)