Top HBCU Draft Prospects (Part Five)

By Tony McClean
Updated: April 25, 2008

NFL DraftNEW HAVEN, Ct. — With the NFL Draft just hours away, BASN with the help of “Diamonds In The Rough” has been taking a look at the best black college players that will be eligible to be taken this weekend.

Recognized as the nation’s only football scouting service that specializes in the evaluation of players from HBCU’s, Shannon Kneeland and his staff at DITR has served as BASN’s exclusive source for the past six years in regards to the NFL Draft.

All this week leading up to today, we’ve featured four of the top five prospects, according to Kneeland and his staff. Today, we take a look at the No. 1 prospect, Tennessee State defensive back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.


Vitals: 6-feet-1, 181 lbs.

40 time: 4.43.

2007 season: The Florida native earned third-team All-American honors from The NFL Draft Report. He added All-Ohio Valley Conference first-team accolades for the second-straight year, as he was used not only on defense, but also handled kickoff return duties while seeing brief action on offense. He recorded 37 tackles (28 solos) with two stops for losses and a pair of fumble recoveries. He deflected eleven passes and picked off two others, returning both interceptions for touchdowns.

He also blocked four punts, gained 38 yards on a reception, 16 yards on four punt returns and 16 yards on two carries, finishing his final campaign with 1,016 all-purpose yards. Despite juggling football spring drills with the indoor and outdoor track seasons in 2007, he qualified for the NCAA Mid-East Regionals after he captured the Ohio Valley Conference long jump title (25′ 0.75″). In only his second outdoor event, he was named OVC Male Athlete of the Week after finishing third at the Penn Relays with a conference-best long jump of 24’10”.

Outlook:Not since Aeneas Williams terrorized receivers during his playing days at Southern University (1987-90) has a Division 1-AA corner back dominated like Rodgers-Cromartie has done during his career. The speedy pass defender has not only shown exceptional shutdown ability, but also has displayed the natural hands needed to excel as an interceptor. In addition to his defensive skills, he also excelled as a kickoff returner in addition to seeing action as a receiver during his senior campaign.



One of the quickest receivers in this year’s class, Johnson is explosive as a receiver and return man. He caught 66 balls for 1,140 yards (17.3 per) and nine touchdowns and averaged 10.9 on 43 punt returns (with two scores) in his last two seasons. He couldn’t crack the All-SWAC teams, but Johnson will have a great chance at achieving two other goals: being an NFL draft pick and making a NFL roster.

OT JAMES LEE (South Carolina State)

The MEAC’s Offensive Lineman of The Year in 2007, Lee was a key performer in one of the most dominating offensive attacks in the MEAC. The Bulldogs’ second consecutive Lineman of the Year, Lee aided the S.C.State to 4,418 total offensive yards including 2,904 rushing yards. With his help, the Bulldogs posted a league top performance of 632 offensive yards in their final regular season game against N.C. A&T with Lee paving the way for the league’s best individual rushing outing of 323 yards by sophomore running back William Ford. Lee earned offensive lineman of the week honors three times.

DB DE’AUNDRA DIX (Johnson C. Smith)

Dix was named an 2007 AFCA Division II Coaches’ All-American and was the only CIAA and HBCU player to be named to the team. He made the team as an all-purpose player after ending his season ranked first in the CIAA and third in the nation in kick-off returns, at 31.3 yards per return, while also ranking fifth in the conference in passes defended with 11. He registered 33 total tackles and four interceptions.


A teammate of current Houston Texan KR/WR Jacoby Jones, Williams was granted an additional year of eligibility to compete again in 2007. He ranked second on the team with 32 catches for 425 yards (13.3 avg) and a touchdown. In 26 career games at Lane College, Williams started 24 contests. He snared 110 passes for 1,608 yards (14.62 avg) and thirteen touchdowns. He gained one yard on three reverses and was credited with four solo tackles.