The Chicago Bears are no stranger to selecting HBCU talent, having drafted three of them in the last 7 years.
There have been some gems to come from historically black colleges and universities, both in recent years and in years past. Legends like Walter Payton, Jerry Rice, Richard Dent and Michael Strahan all attended HBCUs. In recent years, Pro Bowlers like Shaquille Leonard and Javon Hargrave can be boasted as alumni.
Only one HBCU prospect was selected in the 2023 NFL Draft, but there’s a chance that number increases with the 2024 class. To highlight some of the top players to watch in this year’s draft, I’ve highlighted my top 5 HBCU prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft, in descending order.
Sundiata Anderson, EDGE, Grambling State
Anderson was productive to close out his collegiate career, finishing with 12 sacks and 24 tackles for a loss in his last two seasons at Grambling State. He’s an athletic edge rusher with a high motor, maximizing his first-step quickness with an aggressive mentality and plenty of effort in pursuit. He has quick hands and can turn the corner very well on outside speed rushes, and he offers value as a backside run defender in space. Though he isn’t the biggest or strongest defender out there, Anderson deserves draftable consideration as an above-average athlete with upside as a rotational pass-rushing edge rusher.
Willie Drew, CB, Virginia State
The lone HBCU representative at the Senior Bowl, Drew has arguably the two most important things you could want in a small-school prospect: athletic traits and high-end production.
Drew tallied 11 interceptions between his last two seasons at Virginia State, making a massive impact through his ball-hawking mentality in coverage and very good ball skills. He is rumored to run in the 4.4 range in the 40-yard dash, which is reflective in how explosive he looks in deep-zone shells. He’s aggressive against the run, even if he isn’t the heaviest or strongest cornerback out there. Should he get invited to the Combine, Drew has the chance to shoot up boards.
Anim Dankwah, OT, Howard
If you’re looking for size, power and length at the offensive tackle position, you’ll find plenty of that with Dankwah.
He’s a 6-foot-7, 362-pound monster with 35 6/8-inch long arms, and he’s a three-year starter with a successful collegiate resume. As one would expect for his size, he’s a powerful blocker with a mean streak who knocks defenders off balance with his initial jabs. He maximizes his physical attributes with just how hard he blocks. For such a big man, his short-area burst off the line of scrimmage is impressive, too. He’s a raw processor who’s a work in progress technically, which makes sense as a Ghana native who didn’t start playing football until his junior year of high school. Dankwah is a mold of clay who will take some time to get rolling, but his ceiling is arguably the highest of any HBCU player in this draft.
Mikey Victor, CB, Alabama State
I recently selected Victor as a seventh-round pick in my latest 2024 Bears mock draft. Here’s what I had to say about the toolsy, small-school cornerback:
Another member of Richard Hightower’s team at the Shrine Bowl, Victor brings a lot to like from a physical perspective. He’s 6-foot-3 and 212 pounds with long arms, and he puts that length to good use. He’s a physical boundary cornerback who’s competitive at the catch point, and he has impressive ball production with 2 interceptions and 15 pass deflections in 2023. He has good deep speed with impressive vertical explosiveness, indicating he could test quite well. Though he’s quite raw as a processor and tackler, he’s one of the top HBCU players in the draft, and his tools are worth taking a flier on in the later rounds.
Isaiah Major, LB, Florida A&M
Major is a former JUCO standout who spent two seasons at Florida A&M, and his tape from his time there is a lot of fun to watch.
He finished his last two seasons with the Rattlers with 189 total tackles, 26 tackles for a loss and 6 sacks. Listed at 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds, he’s not the biggest linebacker out there but shows impressive range as a tackler due to his mobility and high effort. His acceleration downhill is very good, and he takes precise angles in pursuit. He might struggle shedding blocks in the pros but has a fun combination of motor and athleticism that should get him NFL looks.