Four players at HBCUs were drafted, and as many as 12 players so far were signed to Free Agent contracts after the draft.
Since the inception of the National Football League, Historically Black Colleges and Universities have put forth quality players into the professional ranks. This year was no exception.
The first HBCU Draftee off of the board was a Defensive Tackle from Delaware State by the name of Rodney Gunter. Gunter was drafted in the fourth round number 116 overall, by the Arizona Cardinals. Gunter was a constant member of the All-MEAC team, earning first team honors in 2013 and second team honors in both 2012 and 2014.
Keim: “Whether anyone has heard of Rodney Gunter or not, I trust our guys.”
— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) May 2, 2015
Gunter is viewed as a way to continue to shore up the Cardinal’s Defensive Line, after they lost both Dan Williams and Darnell Dockett during the Off-Season. After clearly dominating the MEAC for the past three seasons the biggest knock on Gunter is that he hasn’t faced NFL level competition during his time at Delaware State. The next HBCU with a draftee was Texas Southern later in the fourth round, when Tray Walker was selected by the Baltimore Ravens at pick 136. Tray Walker is built in the mold of many successful NFL Cornerbacks, as he fits the trend of tall and lengthy corners such as Richard Sherman.
— Nation’s Classic (@NationsClassic) May 3, 2015
During his time at TxSU Walker recorded 7 interceptions and was an anchor for the Tiger’s secondary. The biggest challenge for Walker to overcome is that of his natural speed and how it translates to the next level.
In the 5th round the Ravens went the HBCU route again, selecting Tennessee State University lineman Robert Myers. Myers, who earned second team Ohio Valley Conference selections for the past two years, caused an uproar during the combine with his physical measurements. He is thought by scouts to have a good base of power, being able to get a good push inside. Also his technique is very highly praised by many analyst.
The largest flaw is the level of competition that he faced from week to week in college, though he more than held his own during the Senior Bowl. Another concern is how his mobility and athleticism translates to the NFL against quicker and stronger competition.
The last HBCU player to be drafted was Offensive Tackle Anthony Morris, also out of TSU. Morris became the fourth lineman drafted out of Tennessee State in the past two drafts. He was taken with the first pick in the seventh round at 218 overall, by the Oakland Raiders. He is viewed as a project with the right size that you want for an offensive lineman at 6’6″. He was a starter for the majority of his colligate career, an integral part of the Tennessee State line that did not allow a single sack during the final 4 games of the season, surrendering an average of around only 1 sack per game for the entire season.
With the 1st pick in the 7th round (218 overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders select Anthony Morris, T, Tennessee St.
— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) May 2, 2015
While he is seen to have a mass of potential the level of competition he faced, along with his technique and ability, will be monitored and developed throughout his tenure.
These HBCU players highlight a resurgence of HBCU players succeeding in the NFL, that can only hope to be continued in years to come.