CAA Heads Small School NFL Draft Selections & FA Signings
By Jon Wagner- Sr. Writer at Large-Football Reporters Online
It makes perfect sense that the small school flag in this year’s NFL draft would be carried by the nation’s best small school conference in college football.
Since it’s inception in 2007 (born out of the old Atlantic 10 conference), the Colonial Athletic Association has emerged as the premiere conference in the Football College Subdivision, while making its mark with placing its best players at the next level.
In its inaugural season, the CAA sent a record five teams to the FCS playoffs and sent Delaware to the FCS title game. The following year, CAA school Richmond won the FCS national championship, and Villanova captured the next FCS national title for the CAA last season.
With that type of success, it’s no accident that multiple CAA players have been drafted by NFL teams each year since CAA football began. So, it’s only natural that the tradition continues this year, with three CAA schools placing five CAA standouts in the 2010 NFL draft:
Vlad Ducasse (OT, 6-4, 332, Massachusetts, 2nd round, 29th pick, 61st overall)
The New York Jets didn’t waste much time in selecting Ducasse, spending their second pick on the large offensive tackle whom the Jets believe can transition to an effective inside guard. The Jets were drawn by the Haitian native’s combination of size, athleticism, and natural power. The pick further demonstrates the ability of the FCS and a conference like the CAA to make its way among the higher Football Bowl Subdivision and a league like the Pac-10, as Ducasse, who finished his last two years at UMass as a First Team All-CAA selection, was taken two spots ahead of well-known USC offensive tackle Charles Brown, who went to the defending champion New Orleans Saints.
Arthur Moats (DE, 6-2, 250, James Madison, 6th round, 9th pick, 178th overall)
You’d better build a moat if you want to protect your quarterback or backfield from Arthur Moats. Named to the First Team All-CAA, Moats’ 90 tackles in 2009 led James Madison and all FCS defensive linemen, while Moats also recorded a team record and national high 23.5 tackles for losses and 11 quarterback sacks. Moats will probably be converted to a linebacker, where he should be a good fit in the Buffalo Bills’ new 3-4 scheme.
Adrian Tracy (DE, 6-3, 248, William & Mary, 6th round, 15th pick, 184th overall)
The New York Giants love to collect talented defensive ends who can rush the passer, and through the CAA, they found another in All-American and two-time First Team All-CAA defensive end Tracy, who is very durable, having started every one of his 47 career games to set a school record. An extremely hard worker not only on the field, but in terms of game preparation and film study, Tracy will quickly endear himself to the Giants’ coaching staff. He recorded more than 20 sacks over his last two seasons at William & Mary, giving him a school record 31 career sacks. However, due to a lack of size for the position in the NFL, Tracy, like Moats, could likely be moved to linebacker –- which wouldn’t be bad, since that’s an area that the Giants sorely need to improve.
Scotty McGhee (CB/KR, 5-9, 190, James Madison, 6th round, 34th pick, 203rd overall)
If you missed seeing McGhee play at James Madison, it wasn’t likely because of a lack of exposure in the lower-level FCS, but rather because you might have blinked for a split-second as the super-quick cornerback and kick returner blew by you in an instant. The Jacksonville Jaguars though, saw enough of McGhee and his blazing 4.37 40-yard dash speed, to target McGhee as a game-breaking returner with their compensatory selection.
Sean Lissemore (DT, 6-4, 298, William & Mary, 7th round, 27th pick, 234th overall)
The Dallas Cowboys expect Lissemore, a solid interior lineman for William & Mary who comes off a First Team All-CAA season, to use his outstanding speed for his position to compete for a backup spot at defensive tackle.
After the draft, Dallas also grabbed another big CAA talent in New Hampshire tight end Scott Sicko, who was signed on Tuesday as undrafted free agent. And, it wasn’t any ordinary undrafted free agent signing. In fact, Sicko, concerned if he was making the right choice for the future of both he and his fiancée, decided to walk away from football after going undrafted. The Cowboys however, despite having one of the game’s best in all-pro tight end Jason Whitten, went hard after Sicko until they finally convinced him to sign and go to Dallas. That says a lot for the FCS and the CAA, as even some of the larger school and larger conference prospects don’t have teams like the Cowboys make a push like that.
Just how deep is the talent in the CAA? In addition to the five draftees mentioned above, here are 16 other CAA players who joined Sicko in signing with NFL teams as undrafted free agents this week:
Dorian Brooks, OG, 6-3, 300, James Madison (Pittsburgh Steelers)
David Caldwell, S, 5-11, 212, William & Mary (Indianapolis Colts
Mike Caussin, TE, 6-5, 245, James Madison (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Victor Cruz, WR, 6-0, 200, Massachusetts (New York Giants)
Tyler Eastman, OT, 6-5, 323, Maine (Kansas City Chiefs)
Brandon Gilbeaux, DE, 6-3, 271, Delaware (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Brandyn Harvey, WR, 6-3, 200, Villanova (Atlanta Falcons)
Jeremy Horne-Murdock, WR, 6-2, 191, Massachusetts (Kansas City Chiefs)
Chad Kackert, RB, 5-8, 180, New Hampshire (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Rockeed McCarter, WR, 6-3, 215, James Madison (Denver Broncos)
Jeromy Miles, S, 6-1, 218, Massachusetts (Cincinnati Bengals)
Ross Ventrone, S, 5-9, 185, Villanova (New England Patriots)
Sean Ware, LB, 6-2, 225, New Hampshire (Carolina Panthers)
Landis Williams, WR, 5-10, 173, Maine (Denver Broncos)
Seth Williams, CB, 5-10, 186, Richmond (New York Giants)
Chris Zardas, RB, 6-1, 230, Massachusetts (Philadelphia Eagles)
(Eds. Note-Several others also received rookie tryout invites)