It's a basic fact of the NFL Draft that the players getting the most attention and buzz tend to come from bigger schools with a history of playing quality football. Every year though, prospects from small schools come through to shine.
Lets take a look at five of the best small school defensive prospects...
Jordan Tripp - Outside Linebacker
Coming out of Montana, Jordan Tripp isn't a well known prospect but he has the potential to carve out a solid NFL career.
After undergoing shoulder surgery in 2011, Tripp bounced back both mentally and physically stronger. In 2012 and 2013 he was First Team All Big-Sky making 195 tackles and 7.5 sacks.
Tripp's best asset is his speed which allows him to quickly chase players down in the field. He also has the ability to quickly read plays. Combined together, these qualities make him a great option for the blitz; especially against the run.
On the downside however, Tripp is slightly undersized at 6'3" and 236 pounds and isn't seen as a big hitter.
The Eagles are reportedly interested however after arranging a visit. Given how much Chip Kelly likes fast players this link up makes a lot of sense.
Look for Tripp to be drafted in the fourth or fifth round and make an impression on special teams in his rookie year.
Zach Kerr - Nose Tackle
Coming out of Delaware, Zach Kerr is a raw talent but he has the physique, skills and attitude to do well as an NFL nose tackle.
6’2″ tall and weighing 224 pounds, Kerr is the right build for a nose tackle. Crucially for a nose he has explosive first step that resets the line of scrimmage.
Carr is strong enough to hold his own and also possesses a surprising turn of speed that allows him to chase down supposedly faster players.
Given a season or two of NFL coaching to develop his strength and skills, Kerr could be a real prospect.
Expect to see Kerr drafted late on by a team needing cover on the defensive line.
Caraun Reid – Defensive Tackle
Despite playing for Princeton, Caraun Reid has been attracting serious NFL interest.
Reid is 6'2'' and 301 pounds with long arms. In other words a great physical specimen for a defensive lineman.
Reid combines his size with speed and very good pass rushing skills. He notched up 20.5 sacks during his college career. That figure is very good for an lineman and a huge plus in an increasingly pass heavy NFL.
Where Reid really excels though is in the intangibles. The son of a pastor father and minister mother Reid is a leader both on and off the pitch. At Princeton, Reid was a student aid and a member of the executive board of the school's 'Christian Faith in Action' group.
Expect an NFL team to draft him perhaps even as high as the third round.
Pierre Desir - Cornerback
It has been a trend in recent years that wide receivers have been getting taller so cornerbacks are having to follow suit. At 6'1'' and 205 pounds, Desir fits into this mould perfectly.
More than this though, Desir combines his physical attributes with production on the football field. At Lindenwood, Desir chalked up 25 career interceptions during his college career ranking him in the top 10 in Division II history and second most in conference history.
Desir impressed in the Combine and you can expect to see him drafted in the third round but he could rise higher.
Larry Webster – Defensive End
The son of Superbowl XXXV Champion Larry Webster, this younger Larry Webster is hoping to follow in his fathers footsteps.
Webster is a former basketball center and a great athlete. Standing at 6'7'' and 240 pounds Webster has a great physique and ran the Combine's 40 yard dash in 4.58 seconds.
As a defensive end at Bloomsburg, Webster made a school record 13.5 sacks in 2012 and 12.5 sacks in 2013.
On the other hand though, Webster didn't make many tackles. This is likely due to his inexperience on the gridiron. Webster needs to improve his technique and his game reading abilities. His athleticism however means that once he develops in these areas his ceiling is high.
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