Before we get to the annual NFL Scouting Combine next week, there's one more college all-star game to showcase talented NFL hopefuls who may not be as widely known as players from college football's biggest programs.
On Saturday, dozens of athletes from Historically Black Colleges and Universities will don their pads and helmets for the annual HBCU Legacy Bowl in New Orleans, hoping to make a lasting impact on NFL scouts before the Draft and college free agency.
"It's very important," Super Bowl champion and Legacy Bowl co-founder Doug Williams told NFL Network. "During the year, a lot of these guys don't get a chance to be seen. … A lot of [scouts] don't really take time off to go to the HBCUs. So I figured, you bring them here with the [HBCU] Combine and the game and everything, practice, and you've got the scouts here. So you bring them to the scouts, and that's the best thing about it. Let them see there are some players in HBCUs that have the ability to either catch on with a team or get a chance to go in a team or be drafted by a team."
NFL Network's Steve Wyche, reporting from New Orleans, identified seven prospects who have drawn significant attention throughout the week. The group includes several players at positions that many consider to be areas of need for the Broncos, including defensive linemen and running backs.
On the defensive line, there's Lane College DE Andrew Farmer and Bowie State DL Joshua Pryor.
"The star of the week thus far," Wyche wrote of Pryor. "Absolutely unblockable on Day 1 of practice Wednesday. The Bowie State star's ability to make plays behind the line of scrimmage and get to CIAA quarterbacks has translated to practice here in New Orleans. His burst, tenacity and potential for physical/overall growth have NFL teams eager to find out more about him."
In the backfield, Virginia State RB Darius Hagans has also drawn interest.
"The standout CIAA product got everyone's attention with his 4.4 40 speed at the HBCU Combine," Wyche wrote. "After putting on the pads and showing physicality, burst and good hands catching the ball in the wind, he's only helped his pro football chances."
To catch the HBCU Legacy Bowl, tune in to NFL Network on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 2 p.m. MT for the live broadcast.
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For more Draft coverage, The Athletic's Nick Kosmider has prepared a mock draft for the Broncos’ five picks. With the first pick, Kosmider projects the Broncos to take Maryland tackle Jaelyn Duncan to bolster the line.
"At 6-foot-6, 320 pounds, Duncan brings considerable athleticism at tackle, and it's the biggest reason he's likely to become the first Maryland tackle to be drafted since 2010," Kosmider wrote. "He showed durability as a four-year starter for the Terrapins, playing in all 42 of his team's games while starting 39."