Small-school draft prospects who could make a big NFL impact
Jordan Love from Utah State could be a franchise QB in the NFL. Jeremy Brevard / USA Today Images

Small-school draft prospects who could make a big NFL impact

NFL Draft prospects from the Power Five programs get most of the attention, but players from smaller schools often make a major impact. In the 2020 draft, keep an eye on Florida Atlantic tight end Harrison Bryant and Southern Illinois safety Jeremy Chinn, among others. 

 
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Small-school draft prospects who could make a big NFL impact

Small-school draft prospects who could make a big NFL impact
Jeremy Brevard / USA Today Images

While the NFL prospects from big college programs get most of the attention in the NFL draft, there are numerous examples of prospects from small schools who have gone on to make a big impact every season. These 25 such players could turn into great contributors coming out of the 2020 draft.

 
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Ben Bartch, OT, St. John's (MN)

Ben Bartch, OT, St. John's (MN)
Vasha Hunt / USA Today Sports Images

Converted from tight end, Bartch is one of the most intriguing offensive line prospects in this year's draft class. He's still learning to play the line and needs experience against higher competition, but he has the quickness to be a quality starter and Day 2 pick.

 
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Tyler Bass, K, Georgia Southern

Tyler Bass, K, Georgia Southern
Marvin Gentry / USA Today Sports Images

Bass is arguably this year's best kicking prospect, showing good range and also great accuracy from less than 50 yards. He made 79 percent of his career field goals and every extra point over the last two seasons. Bass has a chance to be drafted, which is an accomplishment for any kicker.

 
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Harrison Bryant, TE, Florida Atlantic

Harrison Bryant, TE, Florida Atlantic
Trevor Ruszkowski / USA Today Sports Images

One of the top pass-catching tight ends in a thin class, Bryant exploded for 1,004 yards receiving and seven touchdowns in his senior season. He's also a capable blocker, giving him possible Day 2 value.

 
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Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois

Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois
Brian Spurlock / USA Today Sports Images

Chinn didn't face tough competition at SIU, but he has terrific measurables. Standing at 6-foot-3, Chinn ran a 4.45 second 40-yard dash at the combine and was dominant during his college career. He could be a rookie starter.

 
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Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State

Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State
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Cleveland has the experience and athleticism to be a late first-round pick in a deep tackle class. A turf toe issue he suffered last season was limiting, but he has to a chance to step in immediately this season.

 
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Isaiah Coulter, WR, Rhode Island

Isaiah Coulter, WR, Rhode Island
David Butler II / USA Today Sports Images

Coulter has ample size at 6-foot-2 and ran a solid 4.45 second 40-yard dash at the combine. He's overlooked in a deep wide receiver class but produced more than enough at Rhode Island to receive draft consideration.

 
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Gabriel Davis, WR, UCF

Gabriel Davis, WR, UCF
Douglas DeFelice / USA Today Sports Images

Davis didn't have a great combine, but it's hard to knock his college production. The 6-foot-2 wideout had 72 catches for 1,241 yards and 12 touchdowns in 12 games during his junior season, and he could be picked as early as Round 3.

 
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Akeem Davis-Gaither, LB, Appalachian State

Akeem Davis-Gaither, LB, Appalachian State
Trevor Ruszkowski / USA Today Sports Images

Davis-Gaither has been a tackle machine for App State over the last two years, with 197 tackles combined. He also recorded five sacks last season in 14 games and shows the versatility to compete in different roles early in his career.

 
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Kevin Dotson, OG, Louisiana

Kevin Dotson, OG, Louisiana
John Rivera / Icon Sportswire

Dotson got plenty of work at right guard for the Ragin' Cajuns. Although he's overshadowed by fellow Louisiana draft prospect Robert Hunt, Dotson has a chance to be a late-round pick and quality player at the next level.

 
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Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne

Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne
Trevor Ruszkowski / USA Today Sports Images

Dugger has managed to earn attention out of Lenoir-Rhyne, dominating Division II as both a safety and punt returner. He had an excellent combine showing, which could allow Dugger to sneak into the second round on draft day.

 
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Darrynton Evans, RB, Appalachian State

Darrynton Evans, RB, Appalachian State
Jeremy Brevard / USA Today Sports Images

Evans was a key part of the terrific App State offense last season, with 1,480 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns on the ground. He ran a terrific 4.41 second 40-yard dash and has also shown improvement with his receiving skills. Evans could be a late Day 2 draft pick, in the best case.

 
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Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR, Liberty

Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR, Liberty
Chuck Cook / USA Today Sports Images

With a pair of 1,000 yard seasons at Liberty and a 6-foot-4 frame, Gandy-Golden certainly has scouts intrigued. He didn't run the best 40 at the combine, but he shows plenty of upside for the middle rounds.

 
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Trevis Gipson, DE, Tulsa

Trevis Gipson, DE, Tulsa
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Gipson was a highly productive pass rusher at Tulsa, capping off his career with eight sacks and 49 tackles in 12 games last season. He could need some time to develop but has enough upside to be a Day 2 pick.

 
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Robert Hunt, OG, Louisiana

Robert Hunt, OG, Louisiana
Trevor Ruszkowski / USA Today Sports Images

Hunt has plenty of size at 6-foot-5, 323 pounds and has experience at Louisiana at both guard and tackle. He missed time last season with a groin injury but should still see playing time in short order in the NFL.

 
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Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Vasha Hunt / USA Today Sports Images

Love is one of the most intriguing prospects in the entire 2020 draft, with the arm strength and athleticism of a first-round pick. However, he saw major regression last season, completing only 62 percent of his passes with 17 picks in 13 games, which could at least give teams pause about throwing Love into the fire. Regardless, quarterbacks with his upside rarely go past the first round.

 
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Matt Hennessy, OC, Temple

Matt Hennessy, OC, Temple
Vasha Hunt / USA Today Sports Images

Hennessy has experience at both guard and center, and was a Rimington Trophy finalist as one of the best centers in the country during 2019. Centers are often pushed down the draft board, but Hennessy could still have his name called on Day 2 as a plug-and-play prospect.

 
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Alex Highsmith, DE, Charlotte

Alex Highsmith, DE, Charlotte
Brian Spurlock / USA Today Sports Images

Coming off a huge senior season, Highsmith is likely to get a look in the middle rounds of the draft. He finished last season with 15 sacks and 75 tackles for Charlotte.

 
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Netane Muti, OG, Fresno State

Netane Muti, OG, Fresno State
Trevor Ruszkowski / USA Today Sports Images

Injuries were a problem for Muti during his college career, but he has huge strength (44 bench press reps) and showed ability when he was on the field. He's played at both guard and tackle in college, but the medical red flags could determine his draft stock after multiple foot and ankle issues.

 
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Matt Peart, OT, UConn

Matt Peart, OT, UConn
Chuck Cook / USA Today Sports Images

Peart's body plays the part at tackle, standing at 6-foot-7, 318 pounds. He has significant experience at both tackle spots for his college career and second- or third-round potential in the draft.

 
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Amik Robertson, CB, Louisiana Tech

Amik Robertson, CB, Louisiana Tech
Justin Ford / USA Today Sports Images

Robertson is extremely undersized at 5-foot-9, but he profiles well as a slot corner who had plenty of production in college with 14 interceptions in three seasons. He also showed a willingness to tackle with at least 60 in all three campaigns.

 
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Reggie Robinson II, CB, Tulsa

Reggie Robinson II, CB, Tulsa
Kim Klement / USA Today Sports Images

Robinson had a fine combine with a 4.44 second 40-yard dash and saw significant playing time in four seasons at Tulsa. He has ample size at 6-foot-1 and has some hope of sneaking into the third round of the draft.

 
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Adam Trautman, TE, Dayton

Adam Trautman, TE, Dayton
Vasha Hunt / USA Today Sports Images

The athletic Trautman had a big final season for Dayton with 70 catches for 916 yards and 14 touchdowns, but it remains to be seen if he has the blocking chops required for the NFL. With a thin tight end class, Trautman still has some hope of being a Day 2 pick.

 
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Quez Watkins, WR, Southern Miss

Quez Watkins, WR, Southern Miss
Ben Queen / USA Today Sports Images

Watkins was a better-than-average contributor in back-to-back seasons for Southern Miss, capping off his career with 1,178 yards receiving and 18.4 yards per catch as a junior. He opened more eyes at the combine by running a 4.35 second 40-yard dash, showing big potential as a deep threat.

 
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Curtis Weaver, DE, Boise State

Curtis Weaver, DE, Boise State
Brian Losness / USA Today Sports Images

Weaver had 34 sacks over three seasons for the Broncos and has a chance to be an interesting pass-rushing specialist in the NFL. He might not have the size or strength to be a 4-3 defensive end, but he could have enough upside to garner Day 2 attention.

 
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Logan Wilson, LB, Wyoming

Logan Wilson, LB, Wyoming
Troy Babbitt / USA Today Sports Images

Wilson was everywhere for Wyoming over the last four seasons, totaling 409 tackles, 10 interceptions and seven sacks for his career. The versatility plays well, even in a deep linebacker class.

Seth Trachtman is a fantasy sports expert and diehard Kansas City Chiefs fan still hoping for a Super Bowl win during his lifetime. He doesn't often Tweet, but when he does, you can find him on Twitter @sethroto.

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