The NFL Draft has become one of the biggest sporting events of the year. It has become so big, that the NFL has spread it out over three days for the first time this year.
Sophisticated scouting services, thousands of mock drafts and gavel—to—gavel coverage by two networks make it a must watch for millions of NFL fans worldwide.
In past generations, players from smaller schools were called diamonds in the rough or sleepers. It's hard to imagine that with the proliferation of websites, daily shows about the draft and hundreds of draft publications that someone could go unknown in this era.
In spite of all that, the majority of the early rounds are dominated by the six BCS conferences. In the 2009 NFL Draft, only one player from a non-BCS school was picked in the first round when the San Diego Chargers chose Northern Illinois' Larry English with the 16th pick. English finished his rookie season with 33 tackles and two sacks.
In past generations, many Hall of Famers have come from non BCS-schools. Jerry Rice went to Mississippi Valley State, Walter Payton to Jackson State and Charlie Joiner to Grambling.
Will there be any future star players from the smaller schools in the 2010 NFL Draft? It will take a few years for us to learn which players emerged after spending their college careers in relative anonymity.
Here are the top ten players to watch from smaller schools as the draft unfolds Thursday—Saturday.