There appear to be only two football players from the black college ranks – both from South Carolina State – surely to be taken in the upcoming April 28-30, 2016 NFL Draft in Chicago. Bulldogs’ defensive tackle Javon Hargrave and tight end Temarrick Hemingway are both rated just inside or outside the top ten at their respective positions, a good grade for getting into the seven-round draft set for the three-day combine at the Auditorium Theater. This will be the 81st NFL draft of eligible players. Hargrave, Hemingway and North Carolina Central defensive back Ryan Smith were the three black college players among the 332 invited to February’s Combine and they continue as the three most likely to go two weeks from now in the draft.
Hargrave (6-1, 309), a two-time MEAC defensive player of the year and FCS all-American, has been getting rave reviews since his season ended in November. He first had a standout performance in practices leading up to January’s East/West Shrine Game in Tampa, Florida. He dominated the one-on-one drills and was rated by some to have been the best player there showing an excellent combination of quickness and power.
That would not be surprising to MEAC coaches and fans who watched him dominate play at the line of scrimmage for the last two years. He racked up 29.5 sacks over that span while posting 45.5 tackles for losses. He continued with an impressive performance at the Combine where he ran 4.93 in the 40-yard dash, had 29 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press, had a 34.5-inch vertical jump and 109-inch (9’1″) broad jump.
Representatives from 23 NFL teams — including defensive line coaches from the Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans — descended on Orangeburg, S. C. for South Carolina State’s pro day on March 30, primarily to get another close-up look at Hargrave. Chad Reuter, a draft analyst at NFL.com, rates Hargrave the fifth most explosive player in the entire draft.
He is rated well inside the top 100 prospects overall by both CBS Sports.com’s NFLDraftScout.com (83rd up from 93rd) and Draftek, and is rated tenth by Draftek as a 4-3 defensive tackle and 11th by NFL DraftScout.com. Hargrave is expected to be taken by the third round though both indicate he is rising up draft boards. Hargrave’s teammate Hemingway (6-4, 241), an MEAC first teamer, has also been putting up eye-opening performances and getting great reviews.
He had three best marks for tight ends at the Combine. His 40 time of 4.71 seconds, his 6.88 seconds in the 3-cone drill and 11.5 seconds in the 60-yard shuttle topped all others at the position. Scouts like his quickness off the ball and long, easy gait and believe he will be a nightmare matchup for linebackers at the next level and could even play at wide receiver. Because of his size, they are concerned about his blocking ability on the line.
In a draft not thought to be full of talent at tight end, Draftek has him as the ninth best at the position while NFL DraftScout.com has him one better at eighth. His projection as the 214th best prospect in the draft by Draftek translates to a sixth-round selection. NFL DraftScout.com projects him to the fifth round. Smith ran a sub-4-5 time at the Combine (4.47) while jumping 36 inches in the vertical jump and 122 inches (10’1″) in the broad jump. He is rated the 35th and 39th cornerback by the two services but an interview on NFL DraftScout.com says he is a top 100 prospect and will be a steal for whoever drafts or signs him.