Again this year, BASN will be calling on Shannon Kneeland and his staff at “Diamonds In The Rough”, the only scouting service that evaluates the nation’s best senior black college football players, to take us through the early buzz of this year’s class.
Here are DITR’s Early Top 10 Prospects heading into the draft. Again, these evaluations are those of Kneeland and his staff since the end of college all-star games and February’s NFL Combine.
1. WR/KR Jerome Mathis, Hampton.
Mathis had an outstanding performance in the Gridiron All-Star Game where he caught two passes for 108 yards and ran for 49 yards. He also had a kick return for 35 yards. Mathis has great speed to get deep and in front of most receivers…Decent run after catch ability…Will hurt you with his speed…Body catches sometimes…Good run blocker…Shows great field awareness…Explosive in the open field…Should work on his release off the line…Will get jammed on the line and lacks hand usage…Routes are not as polished as they should be…Good height, speed and weight for the position…Will have to play some return on the pro level and work his way in at receiver…Overall, he’ll get good looks from a few teams but needs a little more work on his technique.
2. CB/S Ronald Bartell Jr., Howard.
Transferred from Central Michigan in 2003. He recorded 85 total tackles over the last two seasons along 19 pass break ups. Smooth and fluid in his back pedal…Can turn his hips and go…Has good speed…His athletic ability and ball skills are good…Will wrap up when tackling…Good cover skills in man coverage…Shows good route anticipation and can break on the ball with burst…Can play safety also and has good range to do so…Good/Smart kid…He’s not challenged a lot during games and may play to soft sometimes…Bartell has the tools and athletic ability that NFL teams are looking for.
3. S Nicholas Collins, Bethune Cookman.
Collins led BCC in tackles (55) and interceptions (6) in 2004. Has good height, weight and speed for the position…Collins has been very productive for Bethune…Has nice hands…36 inch vertical jump…Can return punts/kicks…Takes bad angles in pursuit at times…Kid who likes to hit and make big plays…Has the speed to close but doesn’t show on film…He’s a solid tackler…He’s athletic enough to cover tight ends and some backs…Collins could possibly slide in on the second day of the draft in a late round.
4. OL Junius Coston, North Carolina A&T
Coston played every position along the Aggies offensive line during his four-year career….Was a four-year starter….Saw his stock rise after playing in The Senior Bowl…..Led the team in pancake blocks three consecutive seasons and consistently graded out at 90 percent or higher once coaches watched the game film…..He finished his career by making 41 consecutive starts as an Aggie…..Under his leadership over the past four seasons, A&T’s rushing attack averaged 4.5 yards per carry.
5. WR Tommy Manus, Morgan State.
Manus led all Morgan State receivers the last two seasons, including 64 catches for 6 TD in 2004. Big muscular kid with a good build…Has good reaction in the crowd…Not afraid to go over the middle…Can really extend and will go up and compete for the ball at the point…Has excellent size for the position…Line release is not that fast and should use his hands a little to get off jam…Has a long stride…Is a multiple threat in short and intermediate routes…Is a solid blocker…Will make the tough catches…Can round routes off at times…He’s a good athlete…Need some little fine tuning with his game but has the size and the ability that NFL teams look for.
6. DE Walter Curry, Albany State.
Curry is one of the most dominant defensive ends in black college football. Curry played in the 2005 Cactus Bowl All-Star game and recorded 4 total tackles, 1 sack and 1 forced fumble. He didn’t run the 40 that week of the game and weighed in at 284. Has tremendous athletic ability…Has a good solid build…Good team leader…Gives great effort to disrupt and reach out and grasp QB or swat for the ball…Accelerates to the ball well…Plays off athletic ability alone at times…Can shed blocks with quickness…Can press and hold opponent while moving laterally…Has a good motor coming off the edge…Doesn’t use a lot of multiple moves when trying to get to the QB…Needs work with hand technique and hip flexibility…Curry has the talent to play on the next level…Curry may be a late second day pick.
7. WR Harry Williams, Tuskegee.
Williams’ stock rose after catching the game-winning touchdown for the East in the 2005 Cactus Bowl…He finished the game with 63 yards receiving on five catches…..He also had a 52-yard punt return in TU’s loss to Shaw in the 2004 Pioneer Bowl….An All-SIAC selection, Williams had 43 receptions for 678 yards and three touchdowns and returned seven kickoffs for 134 yards in 2004.
8. WR Howard Gilmore, Norfolk State.
Gilmore played in the HBCU Football Classic in New Orleans back in January…..A a first-team All-MEAC receiver, Gilmore caught 37 passes for 715 yards and six touchdowns, all team highs……He was second in the MEAC in receiving yards per game and is third in school history in receiving yards and receptions……The six touchdowns marked a career high for Gilmore, who led NSU in receptions in each of his four years and in receiving yards his final three seasons.
9. QB Ben Dougherty, Florida A&M.
Dougherty saw draft stock dramatically with an impressive showing at the NFL Combine at Indianapolis…..He finished his career with the all-time best completion percentage (62.4) in FAMU history and ranked fourth all-time in passing yardage (5,231)……Dougherty completed 477 of 764 passes in three seasons at FAMU (2002-04), tossing 32 touchdowns passes against 20 interceptions…..He also rushed for 1,016 yards and 14 TDs during his career, highlighted by a 700-yard, eight (8) TD season on the ground in 2003.
10. LB Kenneth Pettway, Grambling.
A member of Sheridan Broadcasting’s Black College All-America team, Pettway played in the Las Vegas Classic and was both a first team All-SWAC and All-Louisiana College selection while being named to CollegeSports.com All-Division I-AA team as a fourth team selection….He finished 2004 with 45 total tackles (28 solo) while 16 were for a loss of 65 yards which included nine sacks for a loss of 53 yards (including one for a safety) while forcing two fumbles, blocking two kicks and breaking up a pass……He also earned second team LSWA All-Louisiana honors as a linebacker at the conclusion of the 2003 season.