Unlike some previous years, it seems there is no obvious Division III NFL draft candidate, and even the buzz around Division III players in general has been low headed into the draft and rookie free-agent signing season. However, here are some of the names you might hear when the draft winds down and the signing period begins.
Colts: Justin Gibbons, CB, Aurora
If you know of Gibbons, you know him from his leaping block of an extra point in overtime to beat Benedictine in the final week of the regular season. At 6-3, 198, he's got the requisite size, and his 40 time in the mid-4.5 range doesn't exclude him, either. The Indianapolis Colts signed him to a rookie free agent contract.
Raiders: Nicholas Morrow, S, Greenville
Morrow recorded 66 tackles, 46 solo for Greenville, including 11 tackles for loss and a pair of sacks this past season. At 6-1, 216, Morrow ran a 4.51 at Northwestern's pro day. He signed a rookie free agent contract with the Raiders.
|Cameron Brown worked out with Green Bay Packers rookies and free agent contenders.
Photo by Larry Radloff, d3photography.com
Invited: Dan Arnold, WR, UW-Platteville
Arnold had a great senior season for the Pioneers and ran a 4.63 for scouts at Wisconsin's pro day. He posted a 39-1/2 inch vertical and measures 6-5, 222. He apparently received invites to both the Chiefs' and Saints' camp and has accepted them both.
Invited: Jamar Baynard, RB, Wesley
Baynard posted a 4.52 in the 40 and was invited to the Redskins rookie free agent camp.
Invited: Cameron Brown, DB, UW-Oshkosh
Brown was invited to the Packers minicamp after posting a 4.5 40 time and recording a 43-inch vertical at a regional combine (numbers self-reported).
Invited: Lecorey Demease, DB, Louisiana College
Demease was invited to the New Orleans Saints' rookie minicamp. No workout numbers were immediately available.
Invited: Trevor Heitland, RB, Coe
Heitland, who measured in at 5-9, 190, at a pro day workout at Iowa State, had a 4.64 40 time and got invited to the San Francisco 49ers minicamp.
Invited: Anthony Hill, DB, Hamline
Hill posted a 4.59 time in the 40 at Minnesota-Duluth's pro day, with a vertical of 35-1/2 inches. He measured in at 6-1, 189. Hill broke up three passes and had 34 stops in nine games for the Pipers and was invited to the Minnesota Vikings' rookie minicamp.
Invited: Brian Hunca, WR, Kenyon
Hunca had three games of 14 or more catches last season, including a combined 34 receptions for 347 yards against DePauw and Wittenberg. He will attend the Washington Redskins' minicamp.
Invited: Decorian Johnson, S, McMurry
Johnson led the War Hawks in tackles last season with 58 and had an interception. He also returned a punt for a touchdown. He'll be in the Chiefs' minicamp. At a hair under 5-11, 186, Johnson averaged a 4.62 in the 40 at his pro day at Rice.
Invited: B.J. Mitchell, RB, Mount Union
Mitchell stands 5-5, 170, but he posted a 4.5 40 time at Toledo's pro day and honestly, behind an NFL offensive line, who's going to be able to find him? The Michigan native was invited to the Detroit Lions' rookie minicamp.
Invited: Brandon Neal, CB, Thomas More
Workout numbers were not available on Brandon Neal, although he runs track for the Saints as well and recorded an 11.31 in the 100-meter dash this season. He landed in the Bengals' rookie minicamp.
Invited: Paul Rucci, LS, Rowan
Rucci was the long snapper for the Profs in all four of his years in Glassboro, and was invited to the Arizona Cardinals' rookie minicamp.
Invited: Kezlow Smith, WR, Lakeland
At 5 feet, 10 and a half inches, Smith is small for the NFL but has great speed, with a 4.47 40 time at a pro day at UW-Madison. He was invited to the Minnesota Vikings camp.
Invited: Teidrick Smith, OLB/DE, Mary Hardin-Baylor
Smith participated at Baylor's pro day and had a private workout with the Los Angeles Rams in April. The Rams invited him to their rookie minicamp.
Invited: Alex Snyder, QB, Tufts
Snyder threw just 69 passes all season, but he was 115-for-215 as a junior for the Jumbos. Someone coming out of the NESCAC doesn't have a lot of reps, playing at least 20 percent fewer games than most Division III student-athletes, but the Buccaneers saw something in him and he does measure in at nearly 6-foot-5. He then moved on to the Redskins camp.
Invited: Austin Tennessee, DB, Stevenson
Tennessee was on scouts' radar already heading into the 2016 season and he probably didn't hurt himself with six interceptions last season while moving from cornerback to safety. He's listed at 6-1, 195. Tennessee was invited to the Minnesota Vikings' rookie minicamp.
Names you could still hear
Brent Campbell, TE, UW-Whitewater
Campbell has the blocking skills to participate at the next level and appears to have good enough hands to have the ball thrown his way as well. Plus he has the size (6-5, 263).
Bryan Scott, QB, Occidental
Scott hasn't appeared on too many scouting services, but he gained some notoriety at his pro day at Southern Cal in March.
Generally about a half-dozen Division III players sign free agent contracts after the draft in any given year. Others are invited, unsigned, to rookie minicamps. Others are brought in as camp arms or camp wideouts to help teams look at other players they consider better prospects, but any chance to get looked at is a positive one.