By Creg Stephenson

The 2024 NFL Draft was not kind to HBCU prospects, with no players selected during the 259-pick event.

But there is always next year. Several Black College football players could be potential NFL draft picks in 2025.

Malachi Bailey | Alcorn State

Another top defensive lineman who will likely be a prominent prospect in next year’s NFL Draft is Malachi Bailey, who will represent Alcorn State.

Bailey is expected to be a frontrunner for the SWAC Defensive Player of the Year, which will bode well in his bid to be selected in the 2025 NFL Draft.

The Braves defender has produced 74 total tackles, 27 tackles for loss, 18.5 sacks, two fumble recov- eries, and a forced fumble in his two seasons with the team.

Bailey is the perfect size for an NFL defensive lineman, measuring 6-foot-2 and 260 pounds. He also has the motor and explosiveness needed for a sustained career at the pro level.

Jada Byers | Virginia Union

Jada Byers comes into the 2024 season looking to complete a campaign after having his 2023 year marred by injury.

Despite missing two- and-a-half games due to injury, Byers still managed to put up 1,186 rushing yards (13th in Division II) and scored 16 rushing touchdowns.

This succeeded in a year in which he led the country, averaging 174.5 rushing yards per game and scoring 19 rushing touchdowns.

Though Byers is considered undersized, standing at just 5-foot-7, he makes up for it by being a threat in the backfield and as a return specialist, having averaged 23 kick return yards on 18 career attempts.

His speed and playmaking will be an asset to any NFL team willing to take a chance on him.

Kenny Gallop | Howard

Howard defensive back Kenny Gallop could easily have been a part of the 2024 draft class but decided to return to play for the Bison for one more year.

Gallop was the heart and soul of a Howard team that won the MEAC out-right for the first time in 30 years.

He put up 72 total tackles, four tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, three interceptions, three pass break-ups, and two forced fumbles in the 2023 season.

More than his production on the field, Gallop’s value as a professional prospect comes from his leadership ability. His great instincts on the field and his mentorship in the locker room are values an NFL team would be lucky to have on their roster.

Kasey Hawthorne | Howard

Another Howard Bison who could have value in the 2025 NFL draft class is wide receiver Kasey Hawthorne.

The Bison receiver has accounted for 1,275 receiving yards, eight receiving touchdowns, 580 rushing yards, and 11 rushing touchdowns in his career.

He also has scored a passing touchdown, recorded 17 tackles, and 1.0 tackles for loss.

Any player willing to take on any responsibility in any given scenario will always be valuable at the pro level. Hawthorne has shown he is more than capable of doing so.

Terrell Allen | Tennessee State (entered transfer portal)

Leading off the list is the reigning Buck Buchanan award winner, Terrell Allen, who is coming off a season in which he dominated filling up the stat sheet.

He recorded 65 tackles, 28.0 tackles for loss (led FCS), 14.5 sacks (second in FCS), five forced fumbles (led FCS), and a fumble recovery. Weighing 275 pounds,Allen is quick for his size with an extremely high motor. He punishes teams on the line, making them pay when they only put one o-lineman on him and is crafty enough to beat double teams.

Having recently entered the transfer portal, there is serious doubt whether or not Allen will be in an HBCU uniform at the start of the season in August.

Erick Hunter | Morgan State

Erick “E40” Hunter is a key component to a Morgan State defense that ranked among the top units in the country last season.

The Buck Buchanan Award finalist filled up the stat sheet with 75 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles.

Hunter is an explosive playmaker with the size and length to be effective in multiple areas, limit- ing an opposing offense’s playbook when he’s on the field.

Daniel Richardson | Florida A&M

Although Daniel Richardson has not played a down of HBCU football just yet, his past pedigree leads you to believe he will succeed with the Rattlers, which could do wonders for his draft stock.

In the last three years, Richardson served as the starting quarterback for Central Michigan and Florida Atlantic, respectively, displaying his excellent vision, decision-making, and throwing ability.

This was best shown in a 2022 matchup against Oklahoma State, where he finished with a career- high 424 passing yards, completed 74% of his pass attempts, and scored four touchdowns.

Leading the Rattlers to a second straight Celebration Bowl win will give him all the publicity he needs in a bid for a 2025 draft selection.

Elijah Williams | Morgan State

Rounding out the list is another Morgan State defender who could increase his draft stock with a big season, defensive lineman Elijah Williams.

Williams had a break out season in 2022, producing 60 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, and nine sacks, doubling those numbers from the previous year.

Williams’ explosive strength and speed on the line and his discipline in knowing where to be to make a play are his best assets and will make him a viable option for NFL teams.