Donald Hunt of ESPN.com has broken down his top black college prospects in advance of looming the NFL Draft. Included are both top offensive playmakers like Prairie View quarterback K.J. Black and Grambling running back Frank Warren, but also overlooked contributors like offensive linemen.
QB: He places Black at the top of the list for HBCU passers — after all, the Prairie View standout only led his program to a long hoped-for Southwestern Athletic Conference championship in 2009, then returned to pass for nearly 2,200 yards, 13 touchdowns and just five picks last season. But Hunt also right notes questions surrounding Black’s injury-shortened senior season.
“The injury may have hurt his stock a little bit,” Hunt says of Black. “Although he came on toward the end of the season, he still needs to get his timing back. He has a tendency to force the ball into coverage. He could use a good pro day.”
Also listed: Bethune-Cookman’s Matt Johnson.
RB: Grambling’s Warren broken or threatened every major school rushing record, on the way to passing Hall of Famer Walter Payton on the SWAC’s all-time rushing list with 3,910 yards. But, Hunt adds, he needs to work on becoming a more versatile pass-catching back out of the backfield.
“He has the ability to get outside very quickly,” Hunt said of Warren. “He’s good at reading the defense. He knows how to cut back and make a big run. He will have to work on catching the ball out of the backfield. He averaged only 8.8 yards a catch.”
Also listed: Norfolk State’s DeAngelo Branche; Prairie View A&M’s Donald Babers and Saint Augustine College’s Walter Sanders.
WR: Fort Valley State’s Ricardo Lockette, whose participating in this week’s NFL Combine, averaged 11.4 yards a catch as well as 24 yards per kickoff return — but, Hunt says, he needs more seasoning.
“He has great speed,” Hunt says of Lockette. “He can get deep at any time. He has a good pair of hands. e has to improve his route running. He has to be able to catch more passes down the field. He has to take a little more advantage of his big-play ability.”
Also listed: Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s Raymond Webber (a very questionable No. 2, for me, since Webber led the nation with 101 receptions and 1,429 receiving yards); Prairie View A&M’s Shaun Stephens; Jackson State’s Anthony Mayes; and Albany State’s Ronnie Childs.
OL: South Carolina State’s Johnny Culbreath; Norfolk State’s William Falakiseni and Kendall Noble; Jackson State’s Antonio Colston; Virginia Union’s David Mims; and and Saint Augustine College’s Justin Wells.
Culbreath “can get out in front on all sweeps,” Hunt says. “He has good quickness. He is tall and has good length. He needs to put on another 20 pounds on his frame. He needs to work on his pass blocking.”
DL: Elizabeth City State’s Malcolm Jenkins, the CIAA Defensive Player of the Year; Morehouse’s Derrin Nettles; Hampton’s Kenrick Ellis; Delaware State’s Andre Caroll; and Prairie View A&M’s Quinton Spears.
Jenkins “has great movement from side to side,” Hunt says. “He’s a great pass rusher (but he) needs to put on 35 pounds to play defensive end in the NFL. He has to play the run a little better.”
LB: Hampton’s Brandon Peguese, who led the MEAC with eight sacks. He also had 88 total tackles, 38 of them solo.
“He can play tight ends and running backs in pass coverage,” Hunt says of Peguese. “He can cover a lot of ground with his speed. He likes to make contact. He has a tendency to over run the play. He gets a little anxious occasionally.”
Also listed: Hampton’s Darius Johnson; South Carolina State’s David Erby; North Carolina A&T’s Brandon Jackson.
DB: Prairie View A&M’s Chris Adingupu, who had 83 total tackles and 46 solo stops.
“He has great closing speed,” Hunt says of Adingupu. “He can come across the field and make tackles. He has good size. He has to get better in pass coverage. He can’t just depend on his quickness.”
Also listed: Bethune-Cookman’s Michael Williams; Tennessee State’s Eugene Clifford; Grambling State’s Derrick Wilhite.