We are three days from the NFL Draft getting started in Philadelphia, and that means we are starting to come into focus on where and when players will get picked as they enter the NFL.
For Division II players, the process is a little bit harder because of the competition level, but that does not mean the talent is any less than that of a player who went to a Power-Five school in the FBS.
Before we break down the D2 pool of players for the 2017 Draft, let's take a look back at how the 2016 Draft played out for D2, and how that could potentially help the 2017 festivities in just a few days.
Make sure to follow the NFL Draft with me on Twitter at @zach_prosba for analysis on all D2 picks when they are made, as well as where players should/could go. Follow @HEROSportsNews for coverage of the entire event when it begins Thursday night.
2016 NFL Draft
|Matt Judon — DE||Grand Valley State||Baltimore||Round 5 (146 overall)|
|Tyreek Hill — WR||West Alabama||Kansas City||Round 5 (165 overall)|
|Marqui Christian — DB||Midwestern State||Arizona||Round 5 (167 overall)|
The 2016 Draft was light on D2 talent that was worth drafting and as a result only three players were taken, ironically all in the fifth round in a span of 21 picks.
The clear leader in the clubhouse to be drafted first was Judon, the best defender in D2 during his time at Grand Valley, and a premier pass rusher that could bolster any team he went to. Baltimore used him rotationally in his first season behind Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, but the former Laker was able to contribute 4.0 sacks and 27 tackles in his first season. With those kinds of numbers in his first year, Judon should be expected to become a key contributor for the Ravens in the coming seasons.
The obvious name that stands out on the list of drafted players above is Tyreek Hill, the blazing-fast receiver who became Mr. Everything for the Chiefs about midway through the year. A former Oklahoma State product, Hill transferred to West Alabama following off-field troubles and dominated D2 with his style of play.
The Chiefs were willing to take a gamble on the playmaker, and wound up with one of the steals of the draft, as Hill poured on 1,836 scrimmage yards when adding together his offensive and return numbers, and the speedster was named to the Pro Bowl as a return man following a season where he scored three times on returns.
Entering his second season, Hill is expected to become even more important to a KC offense that simply put, is boring.
The one name fans may not know much about is Marqui Christian, drafted by the Cardinals but spending every game of his 2016 season with the Rams because he was claimed on waivers after the Cardinals had roster issues at punter.
Appearing in 11 contests, Christian registered just two tackles while barely seeing the field except for special teams. But when looking up Christian, the majority of stories tend to be how Arizona were fools for letting the former Midwestern State defensive back go to a divisional rival. We will have to see how that plays out in the coming years, but for now this is the only D2 draftee of 2016 to yet make his mark.
As for how this will impact the 2017 crop of D2 players, the answer is simple: the talent this year is much better, and should lead to about five players being picked anywhere from the second round to the seventh.
Offensive line is the biggest crop of players from D2 this season, and there are always needs for depth when protecting the quarterback and setting up the run game. Skill players are not as common when labeling them as "draft-worthy", but the best overall player in the crop — tight end Adam Shaheen from Ashland — is likely a day two pick and an instant contributor to his drafting team.
Be sure to look out for my ranking of the ten best players in the D2 Football draft pool later this week, as well as a preview of how I think the Draft will turn out for D2 players, including potential draft rounds and where they may land.