Is LA Tech Developing More Prospects Than Power 5 Schools?
While most of the NFL's talent comes from Power 5 schools, there are plenty of lightly recruited players that still fall through the cracks and go unnoticed.
In an era where everyone watches football, NFL franchises have become more adept to scouting at these levels. NFL teams are always looking for valuable assets to add to the depth of their organizations while every NFL Draft has yielded plenty of underrated sleepers that end up producing big in the pros.
This past NFL Draft saw three Bulldogs selected - Trent Taylor, Carlos Henderson and Xavier Woods. Just a season removed from sending three players to the draft in the first six rounds including the school's first defensive player selected in the first round, they are becoming a potential playground for future NFL hopes.
Tech's most recent run of draft selections started in 2013 with Quinton Patton and Jordan Mills. Coach Skip Holtz first year saw Justin Ellis and IK Enemkpali selected in 2014. None were selected in 2015, but the school made up for it with Vernon Butler, Kenneth Dixon, and Jeff Driskel in 2016.
Since 2013, Louisiana Tech has held the record for the most draft picks in Conference USA. Along with UConn and Boise State, the Bulldogs are tied for the most drafted players by a non-power 5 school. They have the same or more players selected than 25 Power Five schools to include Texas, Kansas State, Colorado, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Arizona, Kentucky and Vanderbilt.
For the first time in program history, this marks consecutive years that the school have had three drafted players. Tech have had five players drafted during a two-year period on two different occasions - during the seasons of 1960-61 and 1991-92.
Looks like LA Tech is developing pure NFL potential athletes now. Hopefully, this opens up the eyes of many coaches, scouts, and athletes now. There may be that one kid or future Tech prospect that goes, 'That's the second year I've seen guys from LA Tech get drafted.' For Skip Holtz, this could be a good thing.
As a versatile defensive back who can play in the back end, in the box or cover a slot receiver, Xavier Woods is expected to play and excel at free safety or nickel cornerback at the next level. With much room for growth, he became known as a ball hawk on defense, finishing his career with 14 total interceptions.
Listed at No. 7 in his position, the buzz surrounding his name increased after improving his 40-yard dash from a 4.56 at the Combine to a 4.4 during his Pro Day performance. After meeting with Buffalo, Tampa Bay, Dallas, Washington and Miami, he was selected in the sixth round as the 191st pick as the Cowboys showed the most interest in him.
The Broncos made the decision to draft Carlos Henderson and selected him as the 82nd pick in the third round. Henderson is a player who runs with flair and power after he makes a catch. With his ability to break tackles and finish the deal, he averaged 18.7 yards per catch and scored 19 touchdowns in 2016. Due to his speed and ability to be physical, he immediately fills one of the biggest voids for the Broncos as his potential in the run game is evident, averaged 32.3 yards per return last season.
The 49ers have a little history with drafting former Bulldogs as this is the second straight year they have taken a LA Tech player. Drafting quarterback Jeff Driskel last year and receiver Quinton Patton the year before, the 49ers saw enough potential in Trent Taylor to choose him as the 7th Bulldog and third slot receiver to be drafted by them with the 34th pick of the 5th round for the 177th overall.
Ranked 37th among receivers, he set the record at Tech with 327 receptions for 4,179 yards and 32 touchdowns. Although small, he has the ability to make a play and find an opening in the end zone.
His size has always been questioned, resulting in many people to underestimate him. While his small size may have scared some teams away, San Francisco decided to take a chance on him as wide receivers under six foot have been known to flourish in the NFL. Look at Julian Edelman, Wes Walker and Antonio Brown, who are all regarded as some of the best receivers in the league.