2011 NFL Draft: 10 Small School Prospects Who Impressed Us at the Combine

Brian DiTullioSenior Writer IMarch 2, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: 10 Small School Prospects Who Impressed Us at the Combine

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    Everyone had their eyes on Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Nick Fairley and Julio Jones. The big names from the big schools always draw attention.

    But what about the guys invited from the smaller schools?

    There were more than 300 participants in this year's combine, and not all of them were from the SEC or Big Ten.

    So here is a look at 10 small school players who benefited from attending the combine.

Muhammad Wilkerson, DT Temple

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    Muhammad Wilkerson got his name in a few general managers' folders over the weekend by showing he could be a first-round prospect if he had had more hype coming into the combine.

    Right now, Wilkerson went from a low-profile prospect to a possible second-round pick.

Benjamin Ijalana, OT Villanova

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    Benjamin Ijalana got a chance to show the NFL he should be up in the conversation with names like Nate Solder and Gabe Carimi.

    Ijalana has the size and speed to be a top-round prospect, and he may go in the top half of the second round now that the NFL has had a chance to see him move. Once they look at his tape, they will be even more impressed.

Chris Culliver, CB/S South Carolina

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    Chris Culliver is a very intriguing prospect. He ran two 40-yard dashes at the combine, both of which were unofficially under 4.4 seconds.

    At college, he has played cornerback, safety, wide receiver and kick returner. He will be a great late-round pickup by a team, as his versatility will earn him a place on the roster.

Joe Lefeged, S Rutgers

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    Joe Lefeged has a very bright future by running an unofficial 4.42 40-yard dash at the combine.

    Lefeged played safety, but with that speed he easily can be converted to cornerback if a team wants him and does not need him at the S position.

    Lefeged also can return kicks and punts and should be a late-round pickup for one of the teams.

Brandon Fusco, C Slippery Rock

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    Brandon Fusco is a big guy, the kind of player teams want at center protecting the quarterback.

    He measured in a 6'4", 306 lbs. in Indianapolis. He looked fluid in his drills and had a very good broad jump. Although, why a center would need to excel at the broad jump is beyond me.

    The size and bulk are exactly what the NFL scouts look for in a center prospect, and Fusco should go off the board in the middle rounds.

Cliff Matthews, DE/OLB South Carolina

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    No relation to Clay or Casey, Cliff Matthews is a solid linebacker prospect.

    He does not have the ideal size of a top-round prospect, but he is big enough to get the job done. At 6'3", 257 lbs, he is very athletic, running a 4.82 40-yard dash in Indianapolis. He showed good skills and moves in the other drills and will move up in the rankings.

Ricky Elmore, DE Arizona

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    Ricky Elmore came into the combine measuring 6'5", 255 lbs.

    Elmore is fast and a hard worker. He is seen as a guy who does not have the skills to be a starter, but by looking good at the combine, he should be able to catch someone's attention as a developmental project.

Andre Holmes, WR Hillsdale

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    Andre Holmes is a talented small school receiver that came into the combine at 6'4", 210 pounds and ran a 4.53 40-yard dash.

    For teams looking for a good wide receiver late in the draft, this is your guy. He's tall, relatively quick and the kind of guy who comes out of nowhere to be a star.

Jerrel Jernigan, WR Troy

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    Jerrel Jernigan came into the combine at 5'9", 185 lbs., which is undersized for a pro wide receiver.

    But Jernigan has blazing speed and is considered fearless. He has great moves and will do whatever he has to do to get on the field.

    Jernigan's speed will get him taken in the late rounds, and he will have a chance to prove himself.

Ricardo Lockette, WR Fort Valley State

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    Ricardo Lockette hit the combine at 6'2", 211 lbs. That is a great size for a wide receiver prospect.

    He also is very fast, reportedly running a 4.26 40-yard dash in practice before the combine.

    Lockette ran a 4.37 at the combine, and is one of the top performers in that drill as well as the 60-yard shuttle and the broad jump.

    Lockette is considered extremely raw despite his upside, and that will keep him from going in the first few rounds. But with his athleticism and speed, Lockette is a solid mid-round pick who will have a chance to develop in the NFL.