People laughed at me when I suggested that the Chicago Bears should take a look at Southern Illinois running back Brandon Jacobs in the 2005 NFL Draft.
It might have been the “homer” thing to say at the time, but when I saw Jacobs play during my freshman year at SIU in the fall of 2004, I believed that I was seeing something special. Jacobs shredded Div. 1-AA defenses while on offense and on special teams as a kick returner.
This season Jacobs became the New York Giants feature back after Tiki Barber retired after the 2006-07 season. He capitalized on his opportunity, rushing for over 1,000 yards and six total touchdowns (4 rushing, 2 receiving).
In Sunday’s 24-14 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacobs scored two touchdowns helping the Giants win their first playoff game under Coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning.
And when the 2008 NFL Draft rolls around, I’ll be leading the charge for the Bears to take a look at SIU quarterback Nick Hill.
If Hill isn’t granted another year of eligibility at SIU, his career as a Saluki is over and he will be eligible for the NFL Draft. By no means is Hill a blue-chip prospect, but he is a player that should be given serious consideration to make an NFL roster.
I won’t go as far as to suggest that Hill is the next Tony Romo, a product of Div. 1-AA Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Ill. who made good as an undrafted free-agent with the Dallas Cowboys. But Hill could be the type of quarterback that could manage a game and lead winning teams like Brad Johnson or Jeff Garcia.
Hill stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 210 pounds, and in 2007 he lead the Salukis to a 12-2 record and an appearance in the semi-finals of the FCS (formerly Div. 1-AA) against the University of Delaware. He had a terrific year, throwing for over 3,000 yards and 28 touchdowns and gained over 350 yards in the ground game with four rushing touchdowns.
Two other things that make Hill appealing to NFL scouts are his accuracy and his ability to protect the football. In 2007, he completed over 71% of his passing, while only throwing 7 interceptions (3 of which came in a 30-24 loss to then No. 1 Northern Iowa).
The FCS quarterback that will likely get the most attention is Delaware’s Joe Flacco. Flacco looks like your prototypical NFL quarterback, he stands 6-foot-6 and weighs 220 pounds. In 2007, he passed for over 4,000 yards with 23 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He is projected to be a second or third round pick and could be the steal for the right team.
There’s plenty of time between now and the NFL Draft, but if Presidential campaigning has taught me anything, it’s that it’s never too early to throw a quality candidate out there for the people