Here’s a capsule look at the four HBCU football players who were taken during last weekend’s NFL Draft in Nashville.
OL Tytus Howard (Alabama State)
PICK: Houston Texans, 1st Round (23rd overall)
CREDENTIALS: The four-time All-American has grown from a high school quarterback and basketball star into an NFL prospect on the offensive line. He redshirted as a tight end for the Hornets in 2014. The 6-foot-5, 322-pounder saw his stock climb after playing in the Reese’s Senior Bowl and participating in this year’s NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
HISTORY: Howard is the first selection from Alabama State since Jylan Ware was chosen by the Oakland Raiders in the 2017 draft, and becomes the first first-round selection from Alabama State in school history. Three other players have been drafted as high as the second round in school history including Curtis Green (46th, 1981), Eddie Robinson (50th, 1992) and Tarvaris Jackson (64th, 2006).
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: “He’ll have a chance to compete for a starting job, come in and earn what he gets, but the fact of the matter is, is Tytus has been a starting-caliber player at right tackle and left tackle. He’s played both positions. So, however it works out, we’ll see. It remains to be seen. We also think he can play guard. We believe he’s a four-hole player, prototypical guy, has all of the height, weight, speed – the measurables that we like. ” — Houston GM Brian Gaine.
QUOTABLE: “It’s just so special to me. Just to represent the HBCU schools and the SWAC. Just to show that you can have players come from HBCU and the SWAC and just be good players like they have in the SEC and ACC. For me, to get this chance to be drafted as a first-round pick, I’m going to make the most out of it so guys in the future who are from the SWAC get a chance to get looked at like I did.” — Howard.
DE Darryl Johnson Jr. (North Carolina A&T)
PICK: Buffalo Bills, 7th Round (225th overall)
CREDENTIALS: The 2018 MEAC Defensive Player of the Year led the conference in sacks (10.5) and tackles for loss (19.0). He ranked 13th nationally in sacks and 12th in tackles for loss. He was one of four finalists for the black college football player of the year called the Deacon Jones Award. He was named first-team All-American by the Associated Press, STATS FCS, HERO Sports, American Football Coaches Association and BoxToRow.
HISTORY: Johnson’s selection makes it the third straight year an Aggie has been selected in the NFL Draft as he joins running back Tarik Cohen who went to the Chicago Bears in the fourth round of the 2017 draft and offensive tackle Brandon Parker who was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the third round of the 2018 draft.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: “Johnson can play multiple spots along the defensive front. He will likely need some seasoning on the practice squad before earning an active roster spot.” — Mark Dulgerian, Director of West Coast Scouting for Optimum Scouting Services.
QUOTABLE: “It’s like being a freshman again, learning everybody’s name, building relationships with my new coaches and teammates. I’ve got a new playbook to learn. I want to find a veteran I can get up underneath who can teach me the ropes of how everything works.” — Johnson.
DE Quinton Bell (Prairie View A&M)
PICK: Oakland Raiders, 7th Round (230th overall)
CREDENTIALS: In his senior season, Bell made the transition from wide receiver to defensive end, finishing the season with 14 solo tackles, 32 assists to finish his season with 46 tackles. Bell earned 7.5 Sacks for 38 yards to finish out his stint with the Panthers.
HISTORY: The last selection to the NFL draft from Prairie View A&M was Matthew Teague, who was chosen by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1980 draft. Teague was selected in the 10th round as the 273rd overall pick.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: “We brought him in for one of our 30 visits and our scout Teddy Atlas kept this guy’s name alive in my mind. And he kept bringing him up and he said, ‘Mike, he weighs 240 pounds.’ I said wait a minute, ‘he was 222 or 225.’ And he said, ‘he’s 240 and he ran a 4.4’ and that got my attention.” — Oakland GM Mike Mayock.
QUOTABLE: “It felt unreal to me, it feels like a dream to me right now. When I saw my name come across the screen and they were playing my highlights. Man! I really can’t put it into words how I am feeling right now. I just feel so blessed to have this opportunity. It really just doesn’t feel real. I am walking around my house and my family is going crazy out here, it’s just an unreal feeling over here!!” — Bell.
OL Joshua Miles (Morgan State)
PICK: Arizona Cardinals, 7th Round (248th overall)
CREDENTIALS: The 6-foot-5, 314-pound Baltimore product, played both tackle and guard positions at Morgan State. He was an All-MEAC performer for the Bears, played in the East-West Shrine game, and was a participant in the NFL Scouting Combine.
HISTORY: Miles is the first Bear to be selected in the draft since Visanthe Shiancoe was drafted by the New York Giants in 2003.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: “His arm length really stood out. That and he has a good deal of potential. He’s just scratching the surface.” — Arizona GM Steve Keim.
QUOTABLE: “I spent the summer attacking weights and familiarizing myself with the offense, and I always expect greatness from myself, so I was glad to see the fruits of my labor.” — Miles.
Anthony McClean can be reached via email at email@example.com.