Small School Rankings/Sleepers

Each year there are a few prospects that slip through the cracks or appear as diamonds in the rough. More often than not, these long-shot rookies come from small schools. They have somehow eluded the top-notch Division I programs and made their football splash as big fish in a very small pond. Here are the 2003 rankings of the best draft sleepers.

Name: Tony Romo School: Eastern Illinois Year: 5Sr Ht: 6-2 Wt: 220 40: 4.93 Pos: QB

"Dominated at a lower level of competition but still needs time to iron out his game and refine the small details. Has good upside potential but he's the type of signal caller who would benefit from a season in NFL Europe." Tony Pauline-TFY Draft Preview

Bio: Three-year starter who also spent time with the first team as a red shirt freshman, setting a bevy of college and school marks. 2002 All-American, All-Conference, and Walter Payton Award winner, given to the Most Valuable Player in I-AA football. Completed 65.3% of his throws for 2,950 yards, with 31 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in ten games as a senior. OVC Offensive Player of the Year in both 2000 and '01 when his numbers were 59%/2,583/27/12 and 66.7%/2,068/21/6, respectively.

Pos: Smart, efficient quarterback with the skills to play at the next level. Patient in the pocket, buys time for his receivers and scans the field, taking what the defense gives him. Quickly releases the pass and is accurate on his short or intermediate throws. Has adequate arm strength and leads receivers down field with his throws. Sells the play action pass, senses pressure and steps up to avoid the rush. Displays good wherewithal and field leadership.

Neg: Lacks stature in the pocket, does too much shuffling and sliding of his feet and rarely sets with a solid base delivering the ball. Changes his point of release and slings the ball from the side or throws off his back foot.

Name: Jeremi Johnson School: Western Kentucky Year: 5Sr Ht: 5-10 Wt: 265 40: 4.82 Pos: FB

"Can be a dominant player at the next level as both a blocker and ball handler if he decides to concentrate on the task at hand and make football a priority. While he showed some improvement as a senior Johnson still seems to be his own worst enemy." Tony Pauline-TFY Draft Preview

Bio: Former Indiana transfer used as both a lead fullback and feature runner in college. Carried the ball 102 times for 637 yards and 2 scores as a senior, also catching 23 passes for 310 yards with another pair of touchdowns. 2001 totals at Indiana were 95/546/7 on the ground with 16/213/1 as a pass catcher. Formerly an All-Big Ten Freshman pick in 1999.

Pos: Huge, wide-bodied athlete that dominates the opposition when he puts his mind to it. Moves well for a big man and fluid moving about the field displaying the abilities to be productive on the interior or outside of tackle carrying the ball. Breaks down well, plays with leverage, naturally strong and shows a bit of quickness to his game. Solid receiver who displays vision when the ball is in his hands. Annihilates opponents when focused on the blocking aspect of his game.

Neg: Overweight, poorly conditioned and not nearly as effective as he should be. Prefers running the ball rather than blocking and usually gives half-hearted efforts at both. All to often goes at the opponents legs rather than squaring into defenders and taking them out head on. Reportedly left Indiana after not adhering to Coach Gerry DiNardo's wishes for better conditioning.

Full Name: Derek Watson  School: South Carolina State Year: 4Sr Ht: 5-11 Wt 210 40 4.47 Pos: RB

"A lot of skills to be a complete player but with the checkered past no one is going to expend anything other than a late round choice for his services." Tony Pauline-TFY Draft Preview

Bio: 2001: Led the team in rushing with 128/640/4.6/6 and third in receiving with 23/181/7.9/2.

2000: Led the team in rushing with 187/1066/5.7/11 also accumulating 21/193/9.3 as a pass catcher. Averaged 12.7 yards on three punt returns and 21.5 on 25 kick returns.

Scouting Report:

The Good: Versatile ball handler with an array of skills. Runs with forward lean, quick through the hole and displays a burst of speed in a straight line. Plays with vision, balance and works to avoid defenders or piles. Not explosive cutting it back but has a slashing style of running which enables him to slide off defenders. Outstanding receiver out of the backfield and effectively lines up in the slot. Times and anticipates his receptions well, adjusts nicely to the errant throw and possesses soft hands. Makes a lot of catches into the defensive secondary.

The Bad: Not picking up much yardage off initial contact and goes down rather easily at times, nor fast enough to get outside, around the corner. Dismissed from South Carolina after several suspensions and transferred to South Carolina State but was eventually asked to leave that program.

Name: Jamil Soriano School: Harvard Year: 4Sr Ht: 6-3 Wt: 295 40: 5.12 Pos: G

"Offers upside potential for the future. Better off inside at guard, yet his athleticism allows for the versatility to be used in several offensive schemes. A better version of former Princeton star Dennis Norman, selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the 2001 draft." Tony Pauline-TFY Draft Preview

Bio: Two year starter who also saw playing time with the first unit as a true sophomore. First team All-Conference selection as a senior and also gained All-American notoriety. Played right tackle at Harvard.

Pos: Athletic prospect that broke through with a terrific senior campaign, which vaulted him up draft boards. Quick off the snap of the ball, plays with knee bend and leverage, and stays square. Strong in his upper body, fights with his hands and extends his arms, displaying great punch at the point of attack. Adjusts nicely to oncoming defenders and easily controls opponents once engaged in a block. Explosive getting out to the second level and takes linebackers out of the play.

Neg: Lacks the fluid and quick footwork and does more back pedaling than protecting the quarterback. Not powerful in his base and gets minimal movement from run blocks.

Name: Marcus Ogden School: Howard Year: 4Sr Ht: 6-4.5 Wt: 315 40: 5.15 Pos: C

"The arrow was pointing up after 2001 but he did not take his game to the next level last season. The versatility displayed at center last season works in his favor, but ultimately a late round pick. Practice squad lineman who will make a team if he cranks it up." Tony Pauline-TFY Draft Preview

Bio: Four-year starter who saw extensive action at both left and right tackle before moving to center last season. First team All-Conference selection as a senior. Younger brother to All-Pro offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden.

Pos: Fundamentally sound lineman who plays with a good degree of intelligence. Blocks low with leverage and forward lean, gets underneath opponents, taking them out of the action. Effective in space, can shuffle and slide his feet and displays good blocking range. Patient, does not overextend and jolts opponents at the point of attack when he extends his hands. Explosive on the second level, adjusts nicely and effectively blocks on the move. Anchors in pass protection or turns opponents out blocking for the run.

Neg: Late with his hands, gets lazy and leans on opponents rather than block them out of the play. Must make better use of his angles. Lacks the nasty disposition and has difficulty finishing his blocks.

To view the entire list of small school prospect rankings available for the 2003 NFL Draft, click here.



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