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Unknown to the NFL: Underdogs at the NFL Combine

Here are the former Underdog players invited to the NFL Combine starting on February 27th.

Reese's Senior Bowl Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Every year we see top college players perform drills for a week in bid to increase their draft stock. College football fields hundreds of teams across its many divisions, so it is hard to compare the physical talent of players who come from a litany of different competitive backgrounds. The purpose of the NFL Combine is to level the playing field to quantifiable measurements, the so-called “tangible” abilities of a player.

This does not mean that a player who can run a blistering 40-yard dash will have the qualities that define a professional football player. It merely means that he has that asset to place on his resume. Mental toughness is extremely difficult to measure, which is why the combine is a meaningful addition to scouting a player but not the alpha and omega of scouting.

For many players, the combine is a means to give them that slight edge when it comes to the draft. A team may be on the fence between two players in the same position, only to find that in the drills that certain weaknesses reveal themselves that were hidden on tape. This could elevate one player into the draft, and force another player to be scooped up as an undrafted free agent.

All of this aside, it’s fun to watch young players with world class skills going to work. The future of the NFL starts at the combine, and we have a handy list for you that includes all players who will participate in the combine that come from the American Athletic Conference, Conference-USA, the Sun Belt, and non-FBS conferences. These are the guys to watch; they may fly under the radar early, only to become a major piece of your favorite NFL team.


American Athletic Conference

The American Athletic Conference will send 17 players to the combine. UCF will send four players, making them the AAC team with the most scheduled participants.

UCF: Jordan Akins, Shaquem Griffin, Mike Hughes, Tre’Quan Smith

UCONN: Foley Fatukasi

ECU: Davon Grayson

MEMPHIS: Genard Avery, Riley Ferguson, Anthony Miller

SMU: Trey Quinn, Courtland Sutton

USF: Quinton Flowers, Deadrin Senat, Marquez Valdez-Scantling

Temple: Sean Chandler

Tulane: Ade Aruna, Parry Nickerson


Conference USA

Conference USA will send nine players to the combine. Western Kentucky will send 2 players, the only C-USA team to send multiple this year.

Marshall: Chase Litton

Middle Tennessee: James Richie

North Texas: Jeff Wilson

Old Dominion: Olubunmi Rotimi

Southern Miss: Korey Robertson

UTEP: Will Hernandez

UTSA: Marcus Davenport

Western Kentucky: Joel Iyiegbuniwe and Mike White


Sun Belt

The Sun Belt Conference will send five players to the combine. No Sun Belt teams had more than a single invite.

App State: Colby Gossett

Arkansas State: Ja’Von Rolland-Jones

Georgia State: Chandon Sullivan

Louisiana-Lafayette: Trey Walker

New Mexico State: Jaleel Scott


Non-FBS

Many non-FBS players have also been invited.

Delaware: Bilal Nichols

Dubuque: Michael Joseph

Fordham: Chase Edmonds

Fort Hays State: Nathan Shepherd

Humboldt State: Alex Kappa

Idaho State: Skyler Phillips

Illinois State: Devontae Harris

Indiana (PA): Max Redfield

Jacksonville State: Darius Jackson, Siran Neal, and Roc Thomas

Maine: Jamil Demby

Murray State: D’Montre Wade

North Carolina A&T: Brandon Parker

North Dakota State: Nick Deluca

Richmond: Kyle Lauletta

South Carolina State: Darius Leonard

South Dakota State: Dallas Goedert and Jake Wieneke

Southern: Danny Johnson

Stephen F. Austin: John Franklin-Myers

Stony Brook: Timon Parris

Wagner: Greg Senat

Weber State: Taron Johnson

West Georgia: Desmond Harrison