No Combine? No problem for these 35

— By Dane Brugler, —

The Scouting Combine is a valuable opportunity for NFL hopefuls to audition their skills, sometimes providing the difference whether a prospect is drafted or not.

But even with 330-plus players earning invites to the annual Combine, there are always worthy prospects who go overlooked. The good news for those snubs is the dream of hearing their name called on draft weekend is still possible. An average of 35 non-Combine prospects have been selected in the past four drafts, while about an average of 110 Combine invitees in that time have gone undrafted.

Below are my guesses for 35 non-Combine prospects in this class who will be drafted.




Martez Carter, Grambling State (5-6, 204, 4.50)
The Tigers’ leading rusher in each of the last three seasons, Carter is a jitterbug athlete with elusive moves and athletic feet. He is undersized, but his versatility as a runner, receiver and returner could land him a role similar to Tarik Cohen in Chicago.

Phillip Lindsay, Colorado (5-7, 184, 4.39)
Lindsay didn’t miss a game in the past four seasons, finishing as the Colorado record-holder for all-purpose yardage (5,926). A three-year team captain, he doesn’t have a traditional build, but he runs with energy and displays reliable hands (116 career catches). And he ran a 4.39 40 at the Colorado pro day.

Ito Smith, Southern Miss (5-9, 201, 4.49)
Smith is only the 10th player in FBS history to surpass 4,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in a career. He is undersized and underpowered, but he does his best work in space where he skirts defenders, making him dangerous in the screen game.


Daurice Fountain, Northern Iowa (6-2, 210, 4.46)
The highest-rated offensive Combine snub, Fountain would have tested off the charts in Indianapolis (42.5-inch vertical, 11-feet-2 broad jump at his pro day). He is raw in several areas, but his athletic profile and ball skills will land him in the middle rounds.

Justin Watson, Penn (6-2, 215, 4.44)
After a standout Ivy League career (holds almost every Penn receiving record), Watson crushed the Shrine Game, Senior Bowl and his pro day (4.44 40-yard dash, 40-inch vertical). He faces an adjustment vs. NFL competition, but he gives quarterbacks a manageable passing window.

Steve Ishmael, Syracuse (6-2, 212, 4.59)
After spending his first three seasons as a complimentary receiver, Ishmael ranked second in the FBS in catches (105) in 2017. Although he isn’t the most efficient route-runner, he is physical to the ball, making 50-50 balls more like 80-20 when thrown in his direction.

Vyncint Smith, Limestone (6-3, 205, 4.36)
Smith is a tall, lean-framed athlete with an unimpressive build, but he has outstanding speed that made him look like a man among boys in Division-II. His tape is encouraging because he is more than just a size/speed athlete, showing tempo and pace in his routes.

Keith Kirkwood, Temple (6-2, 221, 4.45)
After missing the 2015 season with an injury, Kirkwood posted steady production in the past two seasons, averaging almost 16.0 yards per catch in his career. He is an ideal practice squad candidate with his blend of size, speed and physicality to the football.

Russell Gage, LSU (6-0, 186, 4.47)
Gage had an understated collegiate career, which included practice reps at wideout and defensive back, finishing with 26 career catches. He performed well enough at the LSU pro day that a team looking to bring his speed to camp might use a late-round pick on him.


Khalid Hill, Michigan (6-2, 263, 4.76)
Spending time at fullback and tight end in his career, Hill is still developing his instincts as a blocking fullback, but the want-to and competitive nature are there. While he won’t routinely uncover in his patterns, Hill uses physicality to out-muscle and finish.


Matt Pryor, TCU (6-6, 343, 5.60)
Over the past three seasons, Pryor was interchangeable between right guard and right tackle, earning praise from the TCU coaches for his versatility. His weight needs to be monitored and he tends to play tall, but he is coordinated in his shuffle with the ability to sustain blocks.


Tony Adams, N.C. State (6-1, 302, 5.47)
A four-year starter, Adams started 47 games at right guard for the Wolfpack and logged more snaps than any other lineman in school history. He has strong hands and flexible body control to be a dependable blocker, projecting at center or guard.

Bradley Bozeman, Alabama (6-5, 296, 5.46)
After Ryan Kelly was a first-round pick, Bozeman took over the snapping duties for the Crimson Tide and started all 29 games there the past two years. The traits aren’t exceptional, but he put together strong resume tape, understanding his strengths to help mask his weaknesses.

Dejon Allen, Hawaii (6-2, 295, 4.97)
Allen started 49 games at Hawaii, playing the past two seasons at left tackle. His skill-set is better suited inside at center or guard where he has the athletic feet to be a quality pro if he improves the positional details.

Matt Gono, Wesley (6-4, 319, 5.10)
The only Division-III prospect on the list, Gono started 50 games in college (half at right tackle, the other half at left tackle). Although NFL competition will be completely new territory, he has the flexible lower body to sit in his stance, shoot his hands and mirror with his feet.

Patrick Morris, TCU (6-3, 300, 5.09)
Sometimes a pro day performance can take a player from priority free agent to late rounder, and that might be the case with Morris. He missed multiple games due to injuries over his career, but his testing numbers stand out (37 reps, 35.5-inch vertical, 5.09 40-yard dash).


Marcell Frazier, Missouri (6-4, 261, 4.63)
Frazier took a winding road to this point with stops at Fresno State and two junior colleges before landing in the SEC, where he led the conference with 15.5 tackles for loss in 2017. He flashes the up-field quickness and body control to hunt quarterbacks in the NFL.

Joe Ostman, Central Michigan (6-2, 248, 4.80)
With his lack of size and length (31-inch arms), Ostman is easy to overlook, but there should be no overlooking his FBS-best 14.0 sacks in 2017. There aren’t many stiff, short-armed rushers in the NFL (possible move to fullback?), but he never shuts it down and will out-work everyone once in a camp.

Justin Lawler, SMU (6-4, 264, 5.01)
Only the third player in school history to reach 20 sacks in a career, Lawler isn’t a speed rusher off the edge, but his mechanics and effort wear down blockers. He is a classic overachiever who plays is alert, relentless and fundamentally sound, which could earn him a roster spot.

Sharif Finch, Temple (6-4, 251, 4.65)
After his career was derailed by knee injuries, Finch had an impressive senior season with 15.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. He rushes with burst and active hands and also offers special teams experience with five career punt blocks (was the NCAA’s active leader).


P.J. Hall, Sam Houston State (6-0, 308, 4.76)
Lining up across the defensive line in college, Hall posted a remarkable 86.5 tackles for loss, including 42 sacks, and nine forced fumbles. He is an intriguing one-gap penetrator, and his testing numbers (4.76 40-yard dash, 38-inch vertical) match his film athleticism.

Poona Ford, Texas (5-11, 312, 5.18)
There aren’t many interior defensive linemen in the NFL with his measurements, but Ford has NFL skills. He has the initial quickness, motor and make-up that will be a valued addition to any defensive line depth chart, fitting best as a three-technique in a four-man front.

Zach Sieler, Ferris State (6-5, 292, 4.95)
A former walk-on, Sieler destroyed Division-II blocking, leaving school with 50.5 tackles for loss and 26.5 sacks in the last two seasons. He needs to expand his bag of tricks to find success vs. NFL competition, but he shows an understanding of how to finesse gaps before finishing with power.

Jullian Taylor, Temple (6-4, 294, 4.94)
A part-time starter (only eight career starts), Taylor has a history of injuries to his left knee, but he stayed healthy as a senior and lived in the opponent’s backfield. He uses his length and up-field burst to unwind, find the football and close to finish.

Frank Ginda, San Jose State (6-0, 235, 4.69)
A tackling machine, Ginda accounted for 173 tackles in 2017, which led college football (all levels). He needs to improve his take-on skills, but he is a dominant run defender on tape with his diagnose skills and toughness, putting himself in position to make plays.

Foye Oluokun, Yale (6-0, 229, 4.48)
A former high school teammate of Ezekiel Elliott, Oluokun saw snaps at cornerback, linebacker and safety at Yale and projects as a hybrid linebacker/safety in the NFL. He has adequate tape, but his testing numbers (4.48 40-yard dash, 37-inch vertical, 6.94 three-cone) are what have NFL teams intrigued.


Arrion Springs, Oregon (5-10, 208, 4.46)
Springs registered double-digit passes defended in each of his three seasons as a starter for the Ducks. He doesn’t always play as fast as his timed speed due to messy technique, but he doesn’t back down vs. physical receivers and will fit press-man teams.

Deatrick Nichols, South Florida (5-8, 186, 4.34)
Nichols moved from outside cornerback inside to nickel as a senior, finishing his career with 11 interceptions. He is undersized and doesn’t consistently play under control, but his toughness, speed and athleticism are NFL quality, fitting best as a dime corner.

Darious Williams, UAB (5-10, 184, 4.44)
Williams is a prime example of perseverance, starting in Division-III and spending time away from the game before having a standout senior season (20 passes defended, five interceptions). He is rough around the edges, but his speed, toughness and ball skills make him a potential NFL nickel.

Tremon Smith, Central Arkansas (5-11, 192, 4.32)
Smith put together a strong collegiate resume (53 passes defended, 15 interceptions), but scouts were concerned about his speed. He put those questions to rest with a 4.32 40-yard dash at his pro day. With his speed, ball production and return skills, the NFL is going to give him a long look.

Charvarius Ward, Middle Tennessee (6-1, 198, 4.44)
A junior college transfer, Ward put together quality tape in the past two seasons with 21 passes defended and two interceptions. His play strength and instincts are undeveloped, but his speed and length are the type of physical traits that NFL teams take chances on.


Tarvarius Moore, Southern Miss (6-1, 199, 4.32)
The highest-ranked non-Combine prospect on my draft board, Moore spent two seasons at the junior college level before coming off the bench as a junior at Southern Miss and starting as a senior. He lit up his pro day (4.32 40-yard dash, 39.5-inch vertical, 11-feet-2 broad jump), and that athleticism matches the tape. If a non-Combine prospect is going to crash the top-100 picks, it will be Moore.

Trayvon Henderson, Hawaii (6-0, 208, 4.58)
Although the tape and production (four passes defended, one interception in 2017) are average, Henderson impressed during Senior Bowl practices. He needs to be more consistent as a run defender, but he plays with the timing to be in the right place at the right time.

Jeremy Reaves, South Alabama (5-11, 204, 4.58)
After starting his career as the “Star” safety, he moved to cornerback and then to the rover position, finishing at free safety as a senior. He isn’t a dynamic size/speed/strength prospect, but his competitive make-up and versatility could be valuable.

Tray Matthews, Auburn (6-1, 213, 4.56)
A former top recruit who started his career at Georgia, Matthews was a three-year starter at Auburn, seeing snaps at both free and strong safety. He has some coverage limitations, but he is a natural hunter in the run game and on special teams coverage.