Now that the NFL Scouting Combine has come to a close, attention will now focus to various pro-days around the country. Personnel men will also spend their time analyzing the 337 players that were invited to the combine. But not everyone that will be drafted was in Indy this week and Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News (via Bob Gretz) brings us the best players that weren’t invited to audition for the NFL.
Thomas Austin, G, Clemson: Three-year starter and team captain with 112 knockdown blocks in 2009. Also is a former state high school wrestling champion.
Freddie Barnes, WR, Bowling Green: Caught 39 more passes than anyone else in the NCAA last season, including 22 in one game against Kent State.
Jim Cordle, C, Ohio State: Started 16 games at center, nine at guard and eight at tackle in his college career.
Van Eskridge, S, East Carolina: Three-year starter, two-time All-Conference USA who made 365 tackles and intercepted 11 career passes.
Jeff Fitzgerald, DE, Kansas State: Started 25 games in his first two seasons at Virginia, then transferred to Kansas State where he led the Wildcats in both tackles for loss (10) and sacks (7) in his final season.
Deji Karim, HB, Southern Illinois: Pat Paschall of North Dakota State led the FCS in rushing – but he wasn’t the offensive MVP of his conference. Karim took that honor by averaging 7.1 yards per carry and scoring 18 touchdowns in his 1,694 yards. Paschall, however, was invited to the combine.
Chris Marinelli, OT, Stanford: Started 41 career games. Was an All-Pac 10 selection in 2009 in a blocking front that allowed the fewest sacks in the conference and propelled Toby Gerhart to a school- record 1,871 rushing yards and the Doak Walker Award.
Joe Pawelek, MLB, Baylor: Four-year starter and four-time academic All- American, plus two-time All-Big 12 selection. Started 46 career games and had 422 tackles, nine interceptions and broke up 27 other passes.
Brad Phillips, S, Northwestern: Three-year starter and three-time academic All-Big Ten, plus All-Big Ten on the field in ’09. Forced five fumbles in 2009. Also forced a Shonn Greene fumble and intercepted Chase Daniel.
Rafael Priest, CB, TCU: When will the NFL recognize that some of the best defense in the country is being played at TCU? Priest started 51 career games and intercepted five passes and broke up 36.
Joe Webb, QB, Ala.-Birmingham: Webb was Vince Young and Tim Tebow without the spotlight at UAB. He passed for 5,771 yards and 37 TDs in his two years as a starter and finished as the school’s all-time leading rusher with 2,774 yards and 24 TDs.
I always love seeing some of the under the radar guys get a shot and would welcome Scott Pioli either using one of his final draft picks or signing them in free agency to bring them in to Kansas City.
Specifically, a local kid (school-wise, that is) like Jeffrey Fitzgerald who in his one year at Kansas State was a solid contributor.
We all know how Pioli values intelligent players, which means Marinelli from Stanford immediately has to be a player to keep an eye on in the last couple of rounds or in free agency. He is a huge kid (6-7, 300) that has started both at guard and tackle on a fantastic offensive line.
And of course there is Priest from TCU. I talked about him back before the Horned Frogs took on Boise St. in the Fiesta Bowl. Here is what I said about him then:
I’m not sold that he’s a lock to be drafted, but he has Todd Haley-Scott Pioli written all over him. Just two weeks ago he suffered a serious ankle injury in practice when he accidentally stepped on the back of a receivers foot. Instead of calling it a career and making sure he is healthy for what will be an important pro day, Priest has vowed to play in tonight’s game (Note: He ultimately was not able to participate in the Fiesta Bowl).
Priest isn’t all guts. He’s got solid size (5-10, 175) and if his ankle allows him to run, he should impress with the stop watch. And not that names matter, but could the Chiefs really go wrong by adding another Priest?