Keith Pough, offensive line backer for the Howard University Bison is a contender in the 2013 NFL Draft. (Google Images)
Keith Pough, offensive line backer for the Howard University Bison is a contender in the 2013 NFL Draft. (Google Images)

UPDATE (April 26, 2013): Florida A&M’s defensive tackle Ellie Hyppolite has been named to the 2013 NFL Draft, making him the 8th player from an HBCU to earn the honor this year. According to Shaun DePasquale of the NFL Draft Zone:Standing 6’4 and weighing around 275 pounds, Hyppolite flashes strength and the ability to flow through traffic and find the ball-carrier. Ellie could find himself in a variety of roles at the next level, and has big potential. As a senior, Ellie tied Brandon Hepburn for the team-lead in sacks with 5.5 and added 9 tackles for loss.”

(Initially posted April 24, 2013) Seven hopefuls from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) have been named going into the NFL draft, which takes place from April 25 to April 27.

The athletes look for a spot in the NFL on the heels of a poor showing for HBCUs at last year’s draft. In 2012, just one player, South Carolina State safety Christian Thompson, was selected. He ended up with the Baltimore Ravens, the Superbowl XLVII Champions.

According to the College Sports Journal, Thompson was taken in the fourth round and was the 130th selection overall.

This illustrates a marked decline in drafted players from HBCUs. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education (JBHE) reports, “in recent years, players from HBCUs have been largely ignored in the NFL draft of college players.”

In fact, in 1994, the NFL drafted 17 players, while 13 made the cut in 2000. The articles states, “Every year since then there has been less than 10.”

Published on May 26, 2012, the JHBE piece cites a lack of television and media coverage of HBCU players, “low regard for HBCU football by NFL scouts, and the unproven ability of HBCU athletes to perform on ‘the big stage’” as reasons for the decline.

In 2013, the selection of seven players going into the draft aligns with the figures cited by the JBHE.

A search of the NFL draft website by colleges resulted in the following HBCU players named to the 2013 draft and up for selection by grade:

Terron Armstead – University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Grade: 84

As per the NFL website analysis, Armstead “has been a fast riser in the postseason process. He’s got an intriguing athletic skill set. Despite facing sub-par competition in season, he’s shown the ability to be a good pass protector, and contribute as a run blocker.” The analysis continued, “He could find himself as a Day 2 pick before all is said and done.”

For more information about Armstead, check out his full profile here.

Keith Pough – Howard University

Grade: 70.5

An analysis of Pough states that he is a “tackles-for-loss machine, using his length and speed to chase ballcarriers from behind, as well as attitude to attack them in the hole. His tall, lean build and movement skills could make him a mid-round pick for teams looking for a coverage ‘backer or potential blitzing threat on the weak or strong sides of the formation.”

For more information about Johnson-Webb, check out his full profile here.

Rogers Gaines – Tennessee State University

Grade: 60.9

Standing at 6’6”, Gaines is lauded for his athleticism and size, according to the NFL, which continues, “This tall, athletic left tackle dominates many of the players he faces at the FCS level with his pure size and athleticism. Gaines also shows a bit of a nasty streak at times. While he is a project, a team will likely give him a shot late in the draft based on his upside.”

For more information about Gaines, check out his full profile here.

Kejuan Riley – Alabama State University

Grade: 54.3

The NFL reports, “He finished fifth in the voting for the Buck Buchanan Award for the division’s top defender in 2011, and put himself on NFL scouts’ radar as a legitimate late-round prospect as a reserve free safety with special teams potential.”

For more information about Riley, check out his full profile here.

Jamaal Johnson-Webb – Alabama A&M University

Grade: 54

According to an overview of his athletic ability, the NFL writes “Johnson-Webb has the distinct honor of being the first ever Alabama A&M player ever invited to the NFL Combine. Johnson-Webb wasn’t highly recruited out of high school, as he only played football in his senior season.”

For more information about Johnson-Webb, check out his full profile here.

Brandon Hepburn – Florida A&M University

Grade: 51

Interestingly, along with highlighting his football-related accolades, Hepburn’s NFL profile highlights his academic ability in science. According to the NFL, “During a summer internship, he successfully found a way to kill certain cancer cells in rats using copper-loaded nano particles. Hepburn dreams of owning a biochemical company so he can lead research that will eradicate deadly diseases.”

For more information about Hepburn, check out his full profile here.

Trabis Ward – Tennessee State University

Grade: N/A

No more information was available on the NFL website, but if you are after NFL fantasy news, check out You can also check out his full profile on the Tennessee State Tigers Athletics website here.

None of the players have made it to Scouts Inc.’s Top 32 list, which is posted on ESPN’s website.

The highest grade assigned to a player from an HBCU going into the draft is Armstead at 84. The cutoff to make the top 32 is 88.

For a full list of HBCUs, see here.

To follow Tweets by the HBCU players in the 2013 NFL Draft during the draft, check out HBCU Game Day.

Benjamin Snyder is a sports contributor to The Burton Wire. You can follow him on Twitter @WriterSnyder.

Like The Burton Wire on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter @TheBurtonWire.

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