While most of the focus is on the top Division IA programs, NFL scouts are also concentrating on a number of highly rated small school players.  Here’s the latest on what we’ve been told about Indiana-Pa. defensive back Akwa Owusa-Ansah, Fordham signal caller John Skelton and two sleepers to keep an eye on.

Akwa Owusa-Ansah, the defensive back from Indiana-Pennsylvania, is drawing a lot of interest around the internet.  Some have gone as far as comparing him to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the former first round pick from Tennessee State.   We watched a lot of film on Owusa-Ansah and thought that while he’s a solid prospect, he’s not in the league of Rodgers-Cromartie and scouts we’ve spoken with have concurred.  Many who cover the upper mid west feel Owusa-Ansah is actually a better prospect at safety rather than corner.  They point to his size of 6′-.5″ and 200 pounds as well as his struggles making plays with his back to the ball.  His ball skills are solid but Owusa-Ansah is also best facing the action where he can see the play.  A number of scouts we spoke with feel he compares to Daven Holly, formerly from the University of Cincinnati who was drafted in the 7th round and played for the Cleveland Browns.

– One sleeper cornerback getting rave reviews, and someone we’ve been high on since the 2007 season, is Patrick Stoudamire of Western Illinois.  A sensational athlete who went to WIU on a combination football and basketball scholarship, Stoudamire has a little Champ Bailey in his game, according to those who’ve passed through the school recently.  National Scouting gave him a free agent grade yet most we spoke with feel he won’t get past the middle rounds next April.  

– Louisiana Tech is not considered a “small school” rather one of the smaller programs in Division IA.  Yet they have one of the best NFL prospects in the state, which says a lot.  Scouts have been hammering through the school to watch D’Anthony Smith the past month.  The defensive tackle is athletic and incredibly strong at the point.  He possesses the size to get consideration as a two-gap end.  Seven teams including the New York Giants, Tampa Bay Bucs, Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars have been scouting Smith hard since August.

– Fordham quarterback John Skelton is really making a name for himself early in the ’09 campaign.  Sources we spoke with who saw him play against Columbia on Saturday say that he has all the physical skills to play in the NFL and is a sturdier quarterback at this point in his career than Joe Flacco was at Delaware.  Skelton does not compare to Flacco from a mental standpoint as the game has not slowed down for him yet and he shows too much indecision at times.  People wonder how Skelton, from El Paso, Texas, ended up in the Bronx, New York playing for Fordham.  Evidently no one in the state of Texas recruited Skelton and he was evidently set to attend Columbia.  On a visit to visit Columbia he stopped at Fordham with his dad, just a stones throw away, to view the Vince Lombardi memorabilia at the university.  Coaches noticed him during the visited and got him to sign on with the DIAA program.  His brother Stephen is a tight end for the team.

– Remember the name of Christian Anthony, a sleeper defensive end/outside linebacker from Grambling.  He’s a player that really stands out on film for the Tigers and someone we’ve kept close eye on since last season.  Somehow Anthony did not receive a grade from NFL scouting services coming into the season, something we found incredibly odd.  We’ve been told Doug Williams, former head coach at Grambling and now director of scouting with the Tampa Bay Bucs, has been recently talking up Anthony and getting the word out about this terrific front seven prospect.

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