Non-AQs to watch as NFL combine nears

Players from nonautomatic qualifying schools are steadily moving up ESPN Scouts Inc.’s draft board.

With a week before the NFL scouting combine, Idaho offensive guard Mike Iupati leads all non-AQ players as the top prospect. He’s the No. 1 guard in the draft and he and Boise State cornerback Kyle Wilson have consistently been projected as first round picks.

But in Todd McShay’s blog Friday, Fresno Sate running back Ryan Mathews appeared as the No. 32 player in the upcoming draft. Mathews is a junior, so the first time scouts will really get to see his speed and agility is during the combine next week. Mathews is on the bubble between the first and second rounds and the combine could definitively move him one way or the other.

McShay also noted that after watching film, he found some players to watch as we head into the combine, and Utah receiver David Reed and Fresno State receiver Seyi Ajirotutu have cracked that list.

According to McShay, Reed “… should develop into a very good No. 3 receiver at the next level and is worth the investment late in Round 3.” McShay also writes that Reed should be taken over, “players such as Danario Alexander (Missouri), Jacoby Ford (Clemson) and Freddie Barnes (Bowling Green).”

For Ajirotutu, McShay writes that he needs some polishing, but could be a steal on Day 3 if some teams aren’t able to get a big-bodied receiver in the first three rounds.

Obviously, both Reed and Ajirotutu will have to impress scouts at the combine, but what they’ve shown on film already has piqued interest.