The NFL Combine is just a handful of days away, and that means we are about to see some magnificent feats of strength, ability, and overall talent flashed on the field of Lucas Oil Stadium.
Littered throughout the names everyone comes to expect though are players from smaller schools who show up and do their job to the best of their abilities to impress a team that could potentially draft or sign them.
We of course, are talking about Division II prospects, those who are overlooked based on level of play, potential outlook, or just slightly less production than that of a major FBS player.
But when looking back at the NFL Combine results since 2012, there have been some definite standouts from D2 players that either catapulted them into draft picks, or saw them signed as priority free agents.
Take a look at the best of D2 since 2012, and get ready for more standout players in the upcoming event.
2017: Billy Brown, WR — Shepherd
Brown was eventually converted into a tight end because of his huge frame, but the former All-American was a name to remember among wide receiver prospects at the 2017 Combine because of his high bench press totals.
The now-Eagles practice squad member totaled 23 reps in the bench press, a high among all receivers by four reps. While he was unable to put up top totals in other categories, this one stat gave teams what they needed to see that he could find a role as an on-line player.
Brown was eventually signed as an undrafted free agent by the Eagles after looking like a potential sixth-or-seventh rounder. Though his stock did not jump like it could have, Brown still made his way onto a championship team in his first season.
2016: Matt Judon, LB — Grand Valley State
Judon was a fifth round pick of the Ravens in 2016 and his NFL Combine results may have helped him become the first D2 draftee of that class — eventually three players were taken total.
The linebacker / defensive end from GVSU was arguably the most consistent edge prospect in attendance, finishing with three top-five finishes in his test areas. Those three top spots were in the 40-yard dash (4.73), bench press (30), and vertical jump (35.0).
As mentioned, he turned those stats into a draft selection and served as one of the starting outside linebackers opposite future Hall of Famer Terrell Suggs in 2017. With 12 sacks in two seasons, the Ravens found a good contributor as they look to return to the playoffs for the first time in quite a few years.
2015 was a bad year for D2 prospects, as just one player was drafted in the seventh round, Edmond Robinson of Newberry. While Robinson and Donatella Bennett of Harding were participants at the Combine, neither really lit up their "interviews", and thus it isn't worth it to stretch and proclaim someone a real standout.
2014: Howard Jones, DE — Shepherd
Jones is another former Shepherd player who impressed at the Combine, but one who turned in much better results that helped him be signed as an UDFA.
Signed by the Steelers following the Draft, Jones put up top marks in the 40, vertical jump, broad jump, and three cone to show off his super athletic traits as an edge defender. Projected as a fourth-to-fifth rounder, Jones fell out of the draft before being signed by Pittsburgh.
Never suiting up for the black-and-yellow, Jones made his way to Tampa in 2015 and recorded five sacks in 12 games. Since then he has dropped a passer just once in 2017 with the Chicago Bears. If given another chance to see the field more often, Jones could blossom into a key role player.
2013: Ty Powell, DL — Harding
Powell was once a quarterback in his high school days, but bulked up and transitioned to defensive end in his collegiate career. That move payed off well, with the former Harding standout being selected in the seventh round by the Seattle Seahawks.
There were about seven players from D2 at the Combine in 2013, and four of them ended up getting drafted. But Powell had the best Combine performance with top marks in both the vertical jump and three-cone drill.
Playing for a few years in the league, Powell never suited up for Seattle. Instead he wound up in Buffalo where he played in 19 contests, recording 17 tackles and one sack.
2012: Janoris Jenkins, DB — North Alabama & Amini Silatolu, OL — Midwestern State
It was too hard to decide between both of these second-round picks that it was just easier to place both down — this makes up for not having a player in 2015.
Both in the league still, Jenkins and Silatolu were the best D2 prospects in quite some time, and no one has really matched their level of draft potential since — Adam Shaheen in 2017 comes the closest.
Neither prospect took top marks for the drills they undertook, but they really didn't need to with the buzz that surrounded them pre-Combine and up to the Draft.
Since the Combine, Jenkins has become an All-Pro caliber corner with the Rams and Giants, and Silatolu is the main backup lineman for Carolina. You can't get much better from the last few years than these two studs.