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You will never hear me say that there is a "down year" for draft prospects. Because I cover so much ground in terms of postseason all-star games I attend and college football games I call during the season, there are far too many really good players out there every season.

This year is no different. Even though some of the top prospects in this year's draft class were once small-college players, they have transferred up to the FBS, thus eliminating them from this list.

This list is for the guys who stuck it out at their respective FCS-NAIA program and found a way to make a way, garnering enough attention and accolades to stand out amongst the rest. 

While this isn't a full list of small-college prospects in this draft class, it is a ranking of those players who I've seen up close and personal at games that I've broadcasted and also at the following all-star game events:

  • USports East-West Bowl
  • FCS Bowl
  • College Gridiron Showcase
  • Hula Bowl
  • Tropical Bowl
  • East West Shrine Bowl
  • Senior Bowl
  • HBCU Legacy Bowl

Here goes my top 25 small-college prospect rankings for the 2024 NFL Draft:

1. Kiran Amegadjie, OL, Yale

Watching Amegadjie dominate opponents each Saturday in the FCS was a true joy to see. He's got the capability to play either guard or tackle as a pro. I believe he's much better inside as a guard, where his game reminds a lot of Kevin Dotson who plays for the Los Angeles Rams. He's got solid technique, good core strength and the athleticism to make himself an early Day 2 pick. 

2. AJ Simon, DE, Albany

Simon is not being talked about enough as one of the top edge rushers in the class. He's gotten better each season, going from Division II Bloomsburg to FCS UAlbany, to having a stellar week of work at the Hula Bowl. With the twitch off the edge and closing speed to the QB, expect him to garner more attention as we get closer to April's draft.

3. Isaiah Davis, RB, South Dakota State

I believe Davis has feature-back potential. His game reminds me a lot of former Minnesota Vikings great Robert Smith. At 6-foot and 220 pounds, Davis has the requisite size and skill combination that yields itself to him being someone's lead back. Over the course of his career with the Jackrabbits, he's also shown he has a knack for making the big play at the right time. 

4. Levi Drake Rodriguez, DL, Texas A&M Commerce 

From the FCS Bowl to the Tropical Bowl, Drake-Rodriguez was one of the more impressive defensive linemen in both games. During both 1-on-1 drills and team-vs-team periods, the 6-foot-1 290-pound defensive tackle was extremely disruptive. There were a lot of scouts from different teams requesting his time post practice at both events. 

5. Deangelo Hardy, WR, North Central (Illinois)

Hardy is someone we've mentioned before in the Hunt Report last year, and he followed up his junior campaign with another spectacular season. I've said before, his style is very similar to former Buffalo Bills great Andre Reed. Look for Hardy's name to start to bubble up more as pro day season approaches.

For more draft coverage, you can hear in-depth analysis twice a week on "With the First Pick" -- our year-round NFL Draft podcast with NFL Draft analyst Ryan Wilson and former Vikings general manager Rick Spielman. You can find "With the First Pick" wherever you get your podcasts: Apple PodcastsSpotifyYouTube, etc. Listen to the latest episode below!

6. Sunidiata Anderson, EDGE, Grambling

One of the more athletic EDGE rushers in the draft class was a major combine snub. Going back to when I was at the Shrine Bowl and watched Anderson go through individual drills, I noted that he moves as fluid as a skill player. He's just scratching the surface of what he could potentially be as a pass-rusher. He's got both the length and athleticism the league covets. 

7. Jaden Shirden, RB, Monmouth

Shirden is a legit game breaker. Anytime he touches the ball, he's got the vision, speed, explosiveness and burst to hit the home run. Having proved at Monmouth that he can carry a full workload if he needs to, Shirden won't have to worry about that in the pros and can completely focus on being a tremendous situational option. What helps Shirden's case coming into this draft class is the success we saw Keaton Mitchell have with the Ravens last season. Look for many teams to be searching for their Keaton Mitchell, and a prospect like Shirden fits that mold.

8. Mikey Victor, CB, Alabama State

Victor competed in two postseason all-star games this past January, the Hula Bowl and Shrine Bowl. And in both instances, his size was the first thing to instantly jump out at you. Standing a legit 6-foot-2 and having the ability to play press man coverage had the scouts salivating. He's another player who should have been in Indy for the combine. 

9. Jalyx Hunt, LB, Houston Christian

Hunt still has a ton of upside left in his game, as he's still learning how to play the edge. Think in terms of how guys like Haason Reddick and Foye Oluokun have grown their games as pros. I foresee the same trajectory with Hunt. Hunt spoke about the pride of the HCU program when I chatted with him at the combine.

10. David White Jr., WR, Western Carolina

White was so impressive during the Hula Bowl, he earned an invite to the Shrine Bowl and replicated the same impressive week there. A physical freak, White easily wins the "off the bus" look, but also with his game. He's got top-tier explosiveness and acceleration, consistently showing mastery in the intermediate and deep levels of the field.

11. Jalen Coker, WR, Holy Cross

Coker was another multi all-star game participant (Hula and Shrine) who made the most of his January. At 6-foot-1 and 208 pounds, he's got the crossover ability to play inside or outside. At the combine, I was able to ask him about his positional versatility.

12. John Jiles, WR, West Florida

Jiles is massively flying under the radar. I was at the College Gridiron Showcase, where everything he did from route-running to catching the ball looked rather easy. He's got good size at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, as well as good acceleration to create the separation necessary to be successful. Jiles was a late call-up to the Hula Bowl and was able to step in and perform well.

13. PJ Jules, DB, Southern Illinois

After only starting two games in 2022, Jules put together an All-American senior season with the Salukis. It's his closing speed on the ball and ball-carrier that makes him such an impressive safety prospect. This past season, Jules finished with 13 TFLs and 11 PBUs. Strong week of work down at the Hula Bowl as well.

14. Kyle Sheets, WR, Slippery Rock

Sheets was a legit machine and big-play deep threat at Slippery Rock. The 6-foot-2, 222-pound wideout has above-average acceleration to separate from defenders, and the ability to track the ball well. He left a very good impression on scouts in attendance at the College Gridiron Showcase.

15. Josiah Ezirim, OT, Eastern Kentucky

Quietly, Ezirim had one of the better weeks at the Shrine Bowl. I thought he was consistent from start to finish, especially in team periods. Over the course of his time at Eastern Kentucky, he's grown into a legit NFL offensive tackle.

16. C.J. Hanson, OG, Holy Cross

Combining very good technique and core strength, Hanson stood out at the Shrine Bowl. Many wondered if the step up from the Patriot League to Power 5 competition was going to be steep, but the former Crusader proved that it wasn't. Hanson also had a very impressive showing at the combine.

17. Eddie Morales III, CB, Monmouth

Having been on the broadcast for a lot of Monmouth games over the years, Morales always made impactful plays both on defense and special teams. Although he's projected as a nickel corner, he proved he can be trusted on the outside due to his excellent spatial awareness, technique and ball skills.

18. Noah Washington, DE, Morgan State

Washington was a standout at Morgan State, but it was his work at the HBCU Legacy Bowl that put a lot of the scouts on notice. His down-the-line versatility is what stood out the most. The 6-foot-4, 275-pound defender can play as a standup edge, all the way down to a 4i (lined up on the outside shoulder of the center) in certain defenses. He's got the length and heavy hands to be a constant nuisance.

19. Khristian Boyd, DL, Northern Iowa

Boyd was yet another Hula and Shrine Bowl participant who made the most of his opportunity. During the 1-on-1 drills at both events, we all watched him whip up on offensive linemen and be extremely disruptive during team periods. It's the hand usage combined with his quickness off the ball that make him such an impressive prospect.

20. Owen Glascoe, TE, Long Island

Glascoe is a fun player to watch because he can do so much out there on the field. He had an excellent career at Long Island, which saw him play some wildcat QB in addition to his traditional H-Back duties. At the College Gridiron Showcase, he was able to show how nuanced a route-runner he is in addition to his abilities with the ball in his hands. 

21. Jordan Toles, DB, Morgan State

Toles has excellent ball skills. At the HBCU Legacy Bowl, he showed his versatility by playing primarily as an alley defender all throughout the week. At Morgan State, he primarily played back deep. Showcasing the versatility to play across the secondary was huge for him and his projection going forward.

22. Mason McCormick, OG, South Dakota State

Functional strength and power epitomize McCormick's game. You watch any big Isaiah Davis run back at South Dakota State, and it's probably through a lane that McCormick cleared out. His physical skills were on display at the East-West Shrine Bowl, showing folks that it was not just because he was playing in the FCS, but because he's actually that type of talent.

23. Narii Gaither, RB, Gardner-Webb

Gaither has tremendous burst and acceleration and can really shrink space between himself and the goal line. Once he hits the second level, he's able to put strain on the defense. He's a solid pass-catcher whose speed makes him dangerous on option routes and Texas routes. His experience as a kickoff returner just enhances his value.

24. John Huggins, S, Jackson State

Huggins had the best workout at the HBCU Combine, running 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash and 6.91 seconds in the 3-cone shuttle. He also jumped 38.5 inches in the vertical jump. His on-field drills were equally as impressive. He's an athletic freak who can run, hit and turn the ball over. We'll see if those things are enough to get his name called next month.

25. Patrick Lavoie, OL, Carleton

Last May I attended the USports East-West Bowl in Hamilton, Ontario, which is a Canadian College All-Star Game played before their collegiate season. Lavoie was one who stood out almost immediately. From a size and skill perspective, he was someone who I thought had an opportunity to garner attention from postseason all-star games in the States. Lavoie secured a spot in the FCS Bowl back in December and more than held his own against NCAA competition. He has the athleticism to play either guard or tackle as a professional.

Honorable mention (combine attendees)

Dylan Laube, RB, New Hampshire

Love the fact that he's an extension of the passing game for an offense. It doesn't matter about the attempts thrown his way while at New Hampshire, but more of the fact that he keeps the playbook entirely open when he's out there on the field. Laube's ability as a triple threat -- runner, receiver, return specialist -- is what makes him a legitimate prospect.

Willie Drew, CB, Virginia State

It was good to see Drew run a 4.46-second 40-yard dash because he has legit cover ability and ball skills. Now that we've seen him showcase the requisite speed and explosiveness, it should only increase the chances of hearing his name called in April.

Ryan Flournoy, WR, SE Missouri State

Coming off a strong performance at the Senior Bowl, Flournoy did an excellent job of testing well at the combine. He ran 4.44 seconds in the 40-yard dash and jumped 39.5 inches on the vertical jump. He's looking like a bonafide outside threat as a pro.