Deion Sanders ‘ashamed’ 31 NFL teams clearly don’t value HBCU players

Deion Sanders expressed great disappointment in the NFL for not taking HBCU players seriously in this past weekend’s draft.

While he went No. 5 overall to the Atlanta Falcons in 1989, Deion Sanders remains an advocate for HBCU football even after taking over the Colorado Buffaloes.

Although Sanders celebrated the fact one of his former players in Jackson State cornerback Isaiah Bolden being drafted by the New England Patriots, he was “ashamed” of how the other 31 NFL franchises didn’t seem to take HBCU football seriously this spring. Bolden was the only HBCU player taken this spring, and he went to New England at No. 245 overall. Something has to give…

Even if it made all the sense in the world for Sanders to go Power Five, he does have a point here.

Many of the NFL’s greatest players played HBCU football, whether that be Steve McNair, Walter Payton, Jerry Rice or Gene Upshaw. So much has changed since they played, but this feels wrong.

Deion Sanders is not happy with 31 NFL teams for not taking any HBCU players

Look. I understand whole-heartedly why Sanders feels this way, but keep this in mind when it came to how the 2023 NFL Draft ultimately shook out. Not only did we not see a single HBCU player taken in the first round, we didn’t see a Group of Five player taken until SMU wide receiver Rashee Rice went No. 55 to the Kansas City Chiefs in the second round. Cody Mauch is an animal!

So yes, I do think it was a combination of this being a strong draft from the Power Five leagues. However, I firmly believe that level of comp is a massive, massive deal for NFL talent evaluators. There is the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine to help level the playing field a bit, but you can never put a price on a pro prospect having to navigate a Power Five slate as an upperclassman.

Admittedly, there is always going to be a talent inequity because that is college football for you in a nutshell. I may be the wrong person to say this, but I do know that there is plenty of talent at the HBCU level, but it is up to the league’s talent evaluators to go find it. Not to say there were any Shaquille Leonards in this draft, but why would you not want a DeMarcus Ware on your NFL team?

This is such a complex issue that may never be solved, but there clearly is more work to be done.

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