Small school prospects are kind of their own sub-genre of NFL Draft prospects. These players don't have the name recognition of their brethren at Division I schools in big conferences, but there's value to be found among those players, especially in the middle and later rounds of the draft or even as undrafted free agents.
After the jump, a look at the Rams recent history with small school prospects and some small school prospects to know for the 2011 NFL Draft.
In the last two years, the St. Louis Rams have picked two players from non-Division I schools, both from West Texas A&M: DE Eugene Sims (R6, 2010) and QB Keith Null (R6, 2009). Sims saw some playing time this year.
Some other undrafted rookies from small schools made their way onto the Rams roster in 2010. DT Jermelle Cudjo from Central Oklahoma was a pleasant surprise as part of the rotation on the line. It can be argued that he showed more potential than Darell Scott, a Clemson DT that the Rams picked in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft. WR Dominique Curry, from California University of Pennsylvania, emerged as a key special teams player before he went on IR early in the season.
Craig Dahl, the Rams starting SS, signed with the New York Giants as an undrafted rookie from North Dakota State in 2007, when Steve Spagnuolo was the defensive coordinator. Dahl made an impression at the Combine, and still has one of the five fastest 60-yard shuttle times in the history of the event.
So what about this year's small school prospects? The Rams have already talked to one player, WR Ryan Lincoln, from a non-Division I school.
Here's a list of the top 100 small school prospects, as judged by one draft pundit. I'd be lying if I said that I knew much about the players listed here, though a few names have surfaced in recent weeks.
Slippery Rock C Brandon Fusco got some ink at the Senior Bowl this week. Missouri State OG David Arkin had a good week at the East-West Shrine Game; he's an athletic guard that should get drafted on day three. Eastern Washington RB Taiwan Jones has had some people talking about his potential as a speedy scatback type in the NFL.
Some of the names on this list will be at the Combine next month, where some of them can move up draft boards. Bookmark this page, because we'll be talking more about some of these players again in the near future.