As the NFL Draft draws closer with the event just about a month away, it is time to start taking a historical look at the draft, with a focus on the best products to ever play in the MIAA, home to the greatest program of all-time in D2, and some of the best current NFL talent..
The five former stars we have listed may not have been drafted when they were coming out of school, but they turned themselves into great stars at the NFL level, even in some cases as coaches following a lack luster playing career.
Take a look at the greats the MIAA has offered the NFL, and be sure to check back for all the NFL Draft coverage you need here at HERO Sports.
6. Kendall Gammon, OL — Pittsburg State
An unorthodox player when he was in the NFL, Gammon actually holds the mark as the first player to ever be selected to the Pro Bowl as a long snapper when he made the NFL's all star game in 2004.
A 15-year pro who played for the Steelers, Saints, and Chiefs, Gammon never appeared as a starter on an offensive line, but was well regarded for his abilities to be a long snapper. During his career with the Gorillas, Gammon highlighted his four years with a championship in 1991, and eventually became an 11th-round pick by Pittsburgh the next year.
5. John Brown, WR — Pittsburg State
The current standard for D2 receivers in the NFL, Brown has been a playmaker for the Cardinals since being drafted in the third round of the 2014 draft.
While his play dipped a little bit during the recent 2016 season from the over 1,000 yards he put up in 2015, Brown is still one of the main weapons in an offensive-heavy system such as Arizona's. That season of success was just a continuation from his work in college, when he was the leading receiver for the Gorillas in three-straight seasons, and was invited to the NFL Combine as a result.
4. Jeff Wright, DL — Central Missouri
A starter at the nose tackle position during the Bills' run of four-straight Super Bowl appearances, Wright was a dominant force in stopping the run and getting after the quarterback, similar to how many defensive tackles play in today's NFL.
The former Mule posted 31.5 sacks in his career, with a career-high of six in each season during a stretch from 1991-1992. Though the former UCM standout was never able to claim the ring that every player chases, he was as much a part of the Bills' success as their dynamic offense was, and was a leader on and off the field.
3. Brian Moorman, P — Pittsburg State
The third Gorilla mentioned on our list, Pittsburg State seems to have the market cornered for sending players to the NFL in the MIAA. Though punters are not regarded in high light in most conversations, it was hard for any fan, analyst, or coach to find someone better at flipping field position than Moorman in the decade of the 2000's.
A career Bill except for one season with the Cowboys, Moorman was first brought onto the team as an undrafted free agent in 2001, and then embarked on a career that spanned until 2013, featuring two Pro Bowls and being named to the all-decade team of the 2000's, an ultimate mark for a player when examining where he ranked amongst his peers.
2. Delanie Walker, TE — Central Missouri
Walker did it all for Central Missouri. In two seasons he compiled 113 receptions and 1,347 yards, and also racked up 965 kick return yards and three kickoff return touchdowns.
Walker was a sixth round draft pick by the San Francisco 49ers in 2006, and signed as a free agent with the Tennessee Titans in 2013.
Over the course of the past three seasons, Walker has transformed himself from an afterthought at the position to one of the premier tight ends in the league. He has had at least 800 receiving yards in each of the last three seasons, inculding a 1,000-yard campaign in 2015. He also has 17 touchdowns in the past three seasons.
Walker was selected to his second straight Pro Bowl in 2016.
1. Rod Smith, WR — Missouri Southern
Smith is just another member for the elite receiver club from D2 backgrounds, as the former Missouri Southern star was dominating around the same time as former Kutztown star Andre Reed was for the Bills. Where Smith was able to make his difference though was in the fact he owned two Super Bowl victories with the Broncos.
Although the Super Bowl winner is not a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he did rack up over 11,000 career receiving yards and scored 68 times, including a handful of connections between himself and Hall of Famer John Elway. The MIAA continues to pour out talent to the NFL, but it will take a lot for any prospect to match the career the College Football Hall of Famer had.