NFL Draft 2012: Top Small-School Prospects in This April's Draft

Michael DixonAnalyst IIIJanuary 13, 2012


As is the case every year, the 2012 NFL Draft will offer plenty of small-school players that make scouts look ridiculous. They may have been overlooked by the biggest schools, but these players will make a big early impact in the NFL.

Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

Jenkins wasn't kicked off the team at Florida because of his skills. While with the Gators, Jenkins went toe-to-toe with the best receivers the SEC had to offer (Julio Jones, A.J. Green) and did exceptionally well against them. 

North Alabama is a Division II school, but don't let that fool you. He will go in the late first round, at the worst. The team that gets Jenkins will land an absolute steal.

Statistics are often hard to measure for a cornerback, as truly great corners are seldom challenged. But in his three years at Florida, Jenkins picked eight passes. The one year at North Alabama is not going to make anyone forget that. 

Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall

In the NFL, if you can get to the quarterback, you belong. Over the last two years, Curry has gotten to quarterbacks 23 times. While he's only 242 pounds, Curry is 6'5", which is the perfect height for someone whose job is to make quarterbacks comfortable. 

Curry also tallied 77 total tackles in 2011, meaning that he's not purely a pass-rusher. He's got enough versatility to stop the run, as well as find the quarterback. 

In the modern NFL, speed is more important coming off the edge than size. Curry has the size to go against big tackles in college, and he will do the same in the NFL. Look for a team to get a nice steal in the second round.  

Bobby Wagner, OLB, Utah State

Wagner is an overall solid outside linebacker. He had four sacks in 2011 to go along with two interceptions and an astonishing 147 tackles. 

Wagner can plug the run, but also find the quarterback and drop into coverage. He's the perfect addition for a team that likes to zone blitz. 

More important than that, the presence of Wagner will allow teams to fill other needs early in the draft, as he won't be taken before late in the second round, if not later. 

But when he's in the NFL next year, Wagner will be an instant impact player. Other than the small school he comes from, there's nothing to not like about Wagner.