Draft Prospects: Top FCS Players in the NFL Draft
There have been many impact players in the NFL from small schools over the last few seasons. Call it FCS or DII, the truth is there are guys that can play. Each year it seems a Johnny Knox comes along out of nowhere. Scouts have taken notice and here is a list of players that are high on a number of draft analysts rankings. Truth be told, I only watched a handful of FCS games this year so I must defer to the opinion of others.
Benjamin Ijalana (OL), Villanova: Could play at either guard or tackle at the next level. Borderline first rounder. According to CBSSports, he is an outstanding pass protector who uses his length to keep defenders away from the QB, but struggles with his kick step. Projected: 2nd round.
Taiwan Jones (RB), Eastern Washington: Amazing speed and acceleration. Looking at YouTube he constantly beat defenders to the outside and cutback across the grain. Mike Mayock recently spoke highly of Jones, “He’s 194 pounds and I think he’s going to run 4.35 or better,” Mayock said. “He’s a home-run hitter who can impact the return game and I think that you try to get him another 10 touches per game as a change-of-pace back.” Sideline Scouting cites his upright running and ball security as primary issues. Projected: Top 100 pick.
Edmond Gates (WR), Abilene Christian: Big play receiver who has great speed. Had over 20 ypc this past season. From NFL.com: “Gates is a developmental prospect with big-play ability who has some makeup concerns but could become a valuable backup receiver and returner with time and more coaching.” Projected: 3rd or 4th round.
Buster Skrine (CB), Tennessee–Chattanooga: One of the fastest players in the Draft. Valuable returner also. Impressed me and many others, including Mike Mayock, during the NFL Combine. Had 11 Division I offers but size (5’7 145) led him to go to Tenn-Chat. While his size is still an issue, his quickness will attract many teams. Projected: 5th round.
Kenrick Ellis (DT), Hampton: Dismissed from South Carolina for multiple violations and finished his career with the Pirates. Unanimous star of the NFLPA game. Massive and disruptive force up the middle, 6’5 336. Off the field concerns but on-field ability is not, looks to be a great run stuffer.
Will Rackley (OL), Lehigh: Three time All-Patriot league measure at 6’4 307. Showed he can play with the bigger boys during the East-West Shrine Game, at least an an all-star game. The Sports Xchance notes that he has textbook technique and could play right away. Projected to move to OG and be drafted in the 2nd or 3rd round.
Brandon Fusco (OL), Slippery Rock: Division II linemen of the year. Projects as a center. From NFLDraft101, positives: “Moves his feet well and sets up quickly” and negatives, “Stops feet and stiff as an athlete” Projected: Fourth round.
Pat Devlin (QB), Delaware via Penn St: Many teams were hoping he would be the second coming of Joe Flacco but talent evaluators have been disappointed with his ability leading up to the Draft. Projected: 3rd day pick.
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