Saturday small-schools look

As more and more small school prospects each year play bigger roles in the NFL, the National Football Post takes our first look at the top five small school players heading into the 2010 season.

QB Pat Devlin, Delaware (6-4, 220)
A tall, well-built quarterback with a live arm who possesses an ability to consistently drive the football outside the numbers. Showcases impressive overall polish to his game considering he’s coming from the 1-AA level and does a nice job generating torque from his lower half when asked to make plays on the move. Is a gifted athlete for his size who can buy time for himself in the pocket and is a threat to take off any time he breaks containment. Displays good overall touch down the field and has the ability to consistently drop the football into his receivers’ outstretched arms on bucket throws. Devlin was a bit erratic at times last season, had a tendency to try to force the ball into coverage and was sloppy with some throws. However, the skill set is there for him to go throw for throw with just about any senior quarterback in the nation. It’s just a case of how much development has taken place since the end of last season.

OL Benjamin Ijalana, Villanova (6-4, 320)
Plays left tackle at Villanova but will likely need to kick inside to guard at the next level. Is a powerful athlete on contact who uses his long arms and strong hands to overwhelm defenders in the run game at the FCS level. Showcases natural body control when asked to get around defenders and seal off the edge and does a nice job driving his legs through contact. However, he isn’t a natural bender in his stance and isn’t real technically sound with his footwork either. Lacks ideal range off the edge and I simply can’t see him holding up on an island at the next level. Nevertheless, because of his size, power and short-area quickness, Ijalana could end up being one of the better guard prospects in the 2011 draft.

DE Christian Anthony, Grambling State (6-4, 258)
A productive pass rusher who displays a good first step off the edge and can really create a pop with his punch on contact. Looks a lot bigger in the upper body than his frame would indicate and does a surprisingly decent job shedding blocks vs. the run game and setting the edge on the perimeter. Exhibits impressive range when asked to close on the football and has some upside both as a down defensive end in a 4-3 and as a 3-4-rush linebacker.

S Mark LeGree, Appalachian State (6-0, 200)
He possesses a real ball-hawking mentality in the deep half with the range and coordination to track the throw and disengage ball from man. Is a physical striker who loves to throw his body around in all areas of the game. However, he needs to do a better job wrapping up on contact and taking more consistent angles in pursuit. But overall, he’s a pretty instinctive kid who should at worst be able to fight his way onto a roster as a special teams ace.

WR Cecil Shorts III, Mount Union (6-0, 180)
He simply plays at another gear compared to his competition, and although he possesses good speed and acceleration when asked to get down the field, it’s his short-area quickness and shiftiness that really makes Shorts’ play stand out. He lacks ideal size and doesn’t have the same type of power or size as former Mount Union standout Pierre Garcon, but he exhibits good overall polish to his game and could end up being a very solid slot guy in the NFL.

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