NFL Hot Press: Small-School Players on the 2021 Watch List

Small-School Players on the 2021 Watch List

Updated June 19, 2020
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.

Every year in the NFL draft process, there are some small-school players who emerge as good prospects and end up going higher than hyped-up players from big programs. In the 2020 NFL Draft, Lenoir-Rhyne safety Kyle Dugger and Southern Illinois safety Jeremy Chinn both were selected in the second round. The 2021 NFL Draft should follow suit, and there are already some small-school players who have earned the attention of pro evaluators. The NFL’s advance scouts selected these small-school players as worthy of being scouted for the 2021 NFL Draft and having the potential to grade out as a draft pick or priority undrafted free agent.

  • Illinois State safety Christian Uphoff
  • Fayetteville State offensive tackle Kion Smith
  • Furman running back Devin Wynn
  • North Carolina A&T running back Jah-Maine Martin
  • North Carolina Central cornerback Bryan Mills

  • Charleston wide receiver Mike Strachan
  • Illinois State offensive tackle Drew Himmelman
  • Illinois State safety Christian Uphoff
  • South Dakota State wide receiver Cade Johnson
  • Arkansas Pine-Bluff cornerback Shawn Steele

  • Central Arkansas cornerback Robert Rochell
  • Arkansas State defensive tackle Forrest Merrill
  • Carson-Newman wide receiver Braxton Westfield
  • Georgia State tight end Roger Carter
  • Jacksonville State tight end Trae Barry

  • Kent State quarterback Dustin Crum
  • Nicholls State wide receiver Dai’Hean Dixon
  • Notre Dame College tight end Zaire Mitchell

  • Sacramento State cornerback Daron Bland
  • Saginaw Valley State running back Nate McCrary
  • Wisconsin-Whitewater offensive guard Quinn Meinerz

Not all of these players will grade out as draft-able, but a year ago, Dugger, Chinn and Dayton tight end Adam Trautman were all on the preaseaon watch list, and those three all ended up going on the second day of the 2020 NFL Draft. Some of the players above are candidates to do the same in 2021.