We know the first step to a prospect being drafted, or ever becoming a relevant fantasy asset, almost always starts with a combine invitation. If a prospect combines solid production with decent athleticism, it allows us to narrow down the field a bit more.
Questions regarding relative level of competition are sure to accompany the following four small-school WRs, and to be clear, the majority of these prospects are unlikely to see sustained NFL success. But as we’ll see, positive indicators do exist — size, production, and a trip to the NFL combine being chief among them.
Krishawn Hogan, Marian University
A relative unknown coming out of high school in Ohio, Krishawn Hogan not only dominated the NAIA circuit as a WR all three seasons at Marian University, he also chipped in 25 rushing TDs over his last two campaigns. Hogan is a bigger-bodied prospect, listed at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds according to the Marian website. And while his 0.39 final-season Dominator Rating — the percentage of team total receiving yards and TDs — isn’t spectacular, it’s identical to both Western Kentucky’s Taywan Taylor’s and Oklahoma’s Dede Westbrook’s final-season performances.
Billy Brown, Shepherd University
Billy Brown finished second among all Division-II WRs in both receiving yards and TDs in 2016. His 0.47 final-season Dominator Rating is also very impressive. He’s listed at 6-foot-4, 241 pounds according to the official Shepherd University website, exceeding Rotoviz’s targeted height and weight requirements for WR prospects.
Robert Davis, Georgia State
Although smaller than both Brown and Hogan, Georgia State’s Robert Davis still boasts impressive size at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds per the Georgia State media guide. He’s been a consistent producer over the last four seasons, ranking second in Sun Belt Conference history in yards receiving — behind only T.Y. Hilton — and fifth in career receptions. Davis has yet to turn 22 years old, making his career-long production that much more impressive.
Davis’s 0.31 final-season Dominator Rating is a little less inspiring, as is his complete lack of special teams contribution, an area of importance previously identified by Jon Moore. Despite youth, size, and production, Davis could have a hard time sticking on an NFL roster if he ends up going undrafted.
Kendrick Bourne, Eastern Washington
Eastern Washington WR Cooper Kupp has been getting a lot of pre-combine buzz. His teammate Kendrick Bourne, on the other hand, has flown completely under the radar.
Bourne’s 211 career catches and 27 TDs both rank seventh in Big Sky Conference history. As a sophomore in 2014, he posted a 8-114-1 stat line against the Washington Huskies. Bourne is also a relatively young prospect, not turning 22 until August.
Playing alongside the aforementioned Kupp drastically decreased his market share production — just a 0.17 final-season Dominator — which is not encouraging. He’s a tall, relatively lean prospect (6-foot-3, 190 pounds) that will need to shine at the combine to catch the attention of scouts in attendance.
Predicting future success for small-school WRs is difficult. We’d like them to dominate market share of yards and touchdowns at as young an age as possible, just like every other WR prospect. We’d also generally prefer them to be tall and heavy. The variable that we can’t quite quantify is level of competition, forever muddying this process.
Although we’ll have a better idea about these prospects following the combine, the importance of being drafted will loom large as we move forward to the NFL Draft.