With the 2015 NFL Draft approaching, we have to take a close look at under-the-radar guys. Every year – without fail – there are several players from non-FBS schools that make a big impact in the NFL. Usually, these are players that the casual fan has not heard of before. Not all of the players on this list will necessarily be stars, but all of them will get a shot in the NFL and should be able to at least make an NFL roster.
Zach Hodges and Tre McBride are the names to know as they both have Pro Bowl potential. Furthermore, don’t sleep on quarterbacks Bryan Bennett and Taylor Heinicke as either one could develop into a good starter with further refinement of their respective skills. Finally, Cole Manhart and Jovontay Williams are the biggest sleepers on this list of sleepers as they could become big time players if they can shore up their currently limiting weaknesses.
Here’s a look at the guys you need to pay attention to.
1. Zach Hodges/OLB/Harvard
With a lightning quick first step and a superb agility to bend around the edge he could end up being the best pass rushers in this draft.
2. Tre McBride/WR/William & Mary
He has stellar production against FBS competition when given the opportunity along with impressive athleticism and catch radius.
3. Bryan Bennett/QB/Southeastern Louisiana
He can be a bit inconsistent setting his feet but has a big-time arm to go with rare improvisational ability as well as having the coveted “it” factor.
4. Taylor Heinicke/QB/Old Dominion
He has a nice all-around game with a live arm, consistent accuracy along with being mobile.
5. Cole Manhart/OT/Nebraska-Kearney
He needs to be more consistent with his hand usage but has impressive feet along with a non-stop motor and high character.
6. Jovontay Williams/DE/Johnson C. Smith
Although he lacks proper run gap discipline, he has all the necessary physical tools and a wide array of moves to be a good to a very good pass rusher in the NFL.
7. Tevin McDonald/S/Eastern Washington
He definitely has the athletic ability to be a good starter at the next level but needs to be more disciplined in pass coverage.
8. David Johnson/HB/Northern Iowa
He’s a big back that is not as powerful as his size would suggest but is a superb receiver out of the backfield.
9. Devonte Fields/DE/Trinity Valley C.C.
He was a bit overrated going into this season and has struggled at a low level, but he still has the ability to be a good player if he can find the form he showed while at TCU.
10. Stephen Murphy/CB/South Carolina State
Although he’s a bit frail, he has good overall athleticism as well as possessing solid man coverage skills.
11. John Crockett/HB/North Dakota State
He has a lot of shake and bake in his game that would make him a very nice #2 back in a one-two punch.
12. Marcus Coker/HB/Stony Brook
He’s a big back that has not shown the same promise that he did while at Iowa. He still could be a solid power back in the NFL.
13. Jake Kumerow/WR/Wisconsin-Whitewater
He could potentially struggle to separate in the NFL but has a very good catch radius while being very savvy as a route runner so he could still surprise.
14. Isaiah Shelton/OG/Shepherd
He has been playing out of position at left tackle but could be a bit of a sleeper pick at offensive guard with his run blocking ability and nimble feet.
15. Benjamin Anderson/QB/Arkansas-Pine Bluff
He is hindered by his supporting cast but he may be the best running quarterback in this draft while being good enough as a passer.