The NFL has tended to sign fewer players from so-called smaller schools below the FBS level, but that should change later this month.
The FCS tier – the bottom half of NCAA Division I – boasts a deep and talented class of prospects, and many have impressed in the run-up to the April 28-30 draft.
The analyst brought in a panel of experts who know the value of insights coming from FCS – Emory Hunt of Football Gameplan and CBSSportsHQ, Jordan Reid of ESPN and Ric Serritella of NFL Draft Bible on Sports Illustrated. For five days this week, we ask them how the FCS class ranks in this year’s NFL Draft.
Our first question is about the overall class of prospects:
What is your assessment of the FCS draft class? Assets, concerns, what excites you?
Emory Hunt (@FBallGameplan), Football Gameplan / CBSSportsHQ
“I think that’s a very deep class of FCS prospects. A lot of it has to do with the fact that we’re dealing with an unprecedented group of ‘super seniors’ due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in which the NCAA gave players an extra year of eligibility, and because of that, we’ve seen players get that extra year of game movie, and more importantly, development that maybe a lot of pro scouts wanted see from them after their previous season.
“For me, the strength is in wide receivers because of the nature of the position. We’re seeing more sets of three-, four-, and five-wide receivers in college football than ever before, so it’s no surprise that guys in this position are developing at such a high rate. Guys like Christian Watson (North Dakota State), Isaiah Weston (Northern Iowa), Lance McCutchen (Montana State), Dai’Jean Dixon (Nicholls) and Jequez Ezzard (Sam Houston) almost immediately come to mind as examples.
“QB is another solid position this year with EJ Perry (Brown), Aqeel Glass (Alabama A&M) and Cole Kelley (Southeast Louisiana) leading the way.”
(The numbers don’t lie: QB/TE/WR group at the NFL Combine)
Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid), ESPN
“I think it’s been one of the strongest FCS classes in a while. After Trey Lance was selected No. 3 overall by the 49ers a year ago, there probably won’t be any number of FCS players drafted this high, but the total number of players drafted overall is expected to be well over six from each of the last two FCS drafts. Spring seasons and even full cancellations have left scouts in a tough spot with talent evaluation at the FCS level Now, with a full season this year, I expect those numbers to be back in the game. range 12-15.
“This FCS class is strong along the offensive line. Trevor Penning (Northern Iowa), Cole Strange (Chattanooga), Cordell Volson (North Dakota State), Nick Zakelj (Fordham), Matt Waletzko (North Dakota) and Braxton Jones (Southern Utah) are all names I expect hear at some point during the draft. This group of offensive linemen really excites me because they all have tools to possibly contribute to some title in their career.
(The numbers don’t lie: OL/RB group at the NFL Combine)
“Another strength that goes a little under the radar is the wide receiver. Christian Watson (North Dakota State), Isaiah Weston (Northern Iowa), Dai’Jean Dixon (Nicholls) and Jequez Ezzard (Sam Houston) are some names that make the strength of this group.
Ric Serritella (@RicSerritella), NFL Draft Bible on Sports Illustrated
“With a full evaluation process ahead of the draft, we should see an increased result from the FCS players chosen this year. their name called in. They are Trevor Penning (Northern Iowa), Ja’Tyre Carter (Southern), Cole Strange (Chattanooga), Matt Waletzko (North Dakota), Cordell Volson (North Dakota State) and Nicholas Zakelj (Fordham) .
“On the defensive side of the ball, it’s been a really good year for cornerbacks, as the FCS class includes players with solid ratings, including Zyon McCollum (Sam Houston), Decobie Durant (South Carolina State) and Christian Benford (Villanova Considering we’ve seen a record six FCS players drafted in each of the past two years, the depth of those two positions alone tells us that number should increase.
(The numbers don’t lie: DB/PK/ST group at the NFL Combine)