Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - They've folded up the tents for the Great
West Football Conference, but some parting gifts still have to be handed out
The disbanded conference will be one of the first from the FCS to have two
players selected in the 77th NFL Draft that runs from Thursday to Saturday.
South Dakota offensive tackle Tom Compton and Cal Poly cornerback Asa Jackson
are expected to be selected on the final day of the draft, likely in the
fourth or fifth round.
Jackson was the only defensive player in Great West history to earn first-team
all-conference honors four times. Compton joined Jackson on the conference's
all-time team, which honored the best from the too-short eight-year existence
of a conference that produced consecutive Buchanan Award winners from 2004 to
2006 in Cal Poly linebacker Jordan Beck, defensive end Chris Gocong and
linebacker Kyle Shotwell and was once the roaming ground of current FCS
national champion North Dakota State and NFL standout wide receiver Vincent
Jackson (Northern Colorado).
The most recent Great West player taken in the draft was Cal Poly wide
receiver Ramses Barden by the New York Giants in 2009 (No. 85 overall, third
BIG SOUTH RISES
Speaking of two top prospects from a conference outside the top five (Big Sky,
CAA Football, Missouri Valley, Southern and Southland), the Big South boosts
Coastal Carolina cornerback Josh Norman and Presbyterian free
safety/cornerback/special teams standout Justin Bethel.
They are a special duo that will be the Big South's first draft choices since
Liberty running back Rashad Jennings went to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the
seventh round (250th overall selection) in 2009.
The East-West Shrine Game may have showcased two sleepers on the national
Norman, at 6 feet, 200 pounds, was arguably the best cornerback there and it's
not out of the question that he will be the first defensive player selected
from the FCS in the third round.
Chattanooga quarterback B.J. Coleman came up huge at the Shrine game - passing
for 170 yards and a touchdown - and has the size (6-3 1/2, 233) and arm
strength for a team to reach for him as early as the fourth round.
Cornerback Janzen Jackson gave up his senior season at McNeese State to enter
the draft as a junior-eligible prospect. It was a bad move after a nondescript
season in the Southland Conference. His draft value has plummeted to priority
North Dakota State offensive tackle Paul Cornick might make an NFL practice
squad, but probably will have to do it as a priority free agent. Despite a big
senior season as the Bison won the national title, Cornick will shift to guard
in the pros, hoping the move is an improvement on his limited athleticism.
YEAR OF THE DEFENSIVE BACKS
Six of the first eight or nine FCS selections are expected to be defensive
backs. If Norman isn't the first defensive player, then it will be Montana's
Trumaine Johnson, a cornerback by trade who at 6-2, 204 pounds, could
transition to free safety to cover the ever-emerging crop of tight ends in the
Furman cornerback Ryan Steed is the other big talent, highly regarded for his
ball skills and playmaking ability.
The top FCS pick of the draft is expected to be Appalachian State wide
receiver Brian Quick, who scouts likely have been impressed with ever since he
blocked the field-goal attempt that set up the Mountaineers' game-winning
touchdown drive at Michigan in the 2007 season opener.
The 2011 Walter Payton Award finalist went on to become Appalachian State's
all-time leader in receptions (202), receiving yards (3,418) and touchdown
He's considered a second-round talent.
Players who could be helped by their positions generally being considered weak
in this year's draft:
Quarterback - Coleman and Richmond's Aaron Corp
Offensive tackle - Compton, Portland State's Dustin Waldron and Columbia's
Center - Stephen F. Austin's George Bias
Tight end - North Dakota State's Matt Veldman
Josh Buchanan of the influential JBScouting.com website for small-school draft
prospects predicts 20 FCS players will have their name called during the
Brian Quick, Appalachian State, WR, 6-4, 220, second round
Trumaine Johnson, Montana, CB/FS, 6-2, 204, third/fourth round
Josh Norman, Coastal Carolina, CB, 6-0, 190, third/fourth round
Tom Compton, South Dakota, OT, 6-5, 315, fourth round
Ryan Steed, Furman, CB, 5-11, 195, fourth/fifth round
Justin Bethel, Presbyterian, FS, 6-0, 200, fifth round
Christian Thompson, South Carolina State, FS, 6-0, 211, fifth round
Asa Jackson, Cal Poly, CB, 5-10, 190, fifth round
B.J. Coleman, Tennessee-Chattanooga, 6-3 1/2, 233, fifth/sixth round
Emil Igwenagu, Massachusetts, H-back, 6-1, 245, fifth/sixth round
Matt Veldman, North Dakota State, TE, 6-7, 257, sixth round
Micah Pellerin, Hampton, CB, 6-0, 194, sixth round
Dustin Waldron, Portland State, OT, 6-5, 305, sixth/seventh round
Jonathan Grimes, William & Mary, RB, 5-10, 207, sixth/seventh round
Dale Moss, South Dakota State, WR, 6-3, 213, sixth/seventh round
Donovan Richard, South Carolina State, SS, 6-0, 214, seventh round
Julian Talley, Massachusetts, WR, 6-1, 199, seventh round
Caleb McSurdy, Montana, ILB, 6-1, 245, seventh round
D.J. Bryant, James Madison, 6-3, 248, seventh round
Myles Wade, Portland State, DT, 6-1, 311, seventh round
Others in the picture: Aaron Corp, Richmond, QB, 6-3, 215; Jerron McMillian,
Maine, SS, 5-11, 203; Tim Benford, Tennessee Tech, WR, 5-11, 205; Corey
White, Samford, SS, 5-11, 206; Monte Lewis, Jacksonville State, OLB, 6-2, 239;
Jeremy Lane, Northwestern State, CB, 6-0, 190; Ronnie Cameron, Old Dominion,
DT, 6-2, 304; A.J. Davis, Jacksonville State, CB, 5-11, 184; Jeremy Caldwell,
Eastern Kentucky, CB, 5-9, 183
The Sports Network