- Steve Muench, Scouts Inc.
The ascension of Marques Colston from seventh-round pick out of a Division I-AA school to a 70-catch rookie sensation in the NFL is the stuff of Hollywood.
The 6-foot-4 receiver wasn't highly recruited out of high school because of questions about his hands and explosiveness. He turned down his only Division I-A scholarship offer -- from Missouri -- and instead went to Hofstra. He became a productive receiver and improved his hands substantially, but he didn't dominate, never reaching the 1,000-yard receiving plateau and finishing with fewer catches as a senior than teammate Devale Ellis.
As an NFL prospect, Colston had a number of perceived flaws. Because he played against small-school competition, scouts wondered whether he could produce in the NFL. He also didn't seem to have the burst to separate from NFL-caliber corners, and some felt he would have to move to tight end to make it in the league. A shoulder injury that kept him out of the 2004 season and a tense relationship with his head coach made him an even riskier pick, so it's not surprising that 251 players -- and 30 receivers -- were drafted ahead of him in 2006.
Even after the New Orleans Saints drafted him, they weren't sure what they had. In fact, they nearly cut him in during a May minicamp. But Colston held on, and his work ethic started to catch the eye of the coaching staff. By September, New Orleans had traded Donte' Stallworth to the Eagles and was looking to Colston to fill his spot. The rest, as they say, is history.
Finding another Marques Colston-type story in the draft's later rounds is a general manager's dream. Here are some small-school prospects available this year who could pay big dividends in the NFL:
Who are the hidden gems of year's draft? Steve Muench examines six small-school prospects who could pay big dividends.