NFL teams have long found value in many former FCS players, so there is plenty of reason to keep a close eye on this year’s large class of 21 prospects at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
During the annual week-long event inside Lucas Oil Stadium, all 32 teams gain an up-close-and-personal look at prospects (324 this year) through measurements and medical examinations, psychological testing, interviews and on-field workouts.
Following is an update on FCS players in the quarterback/tight end/wide receiver group:
Former FCS Players at 2022 NFL Scouting Combine
March 3, Measurements and Workouts: QB/TE/WR
Dai’Jean Dixon, WR, Nicholls
Height: 6-2 1/2; Weight: 200
40-Yard Dash: 4.62; Vertical Jump: 34-0; Broad Jump: 10-5; Three-Cone Drill: 7.28; 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.42
Notable: His 4.62 40 confirmed Dixon’s lack of elite speed, but he averaged over 19 per catch in two of his five collegiate seasons and nearly 22 yards on an all-star game-high 131 receiving yards in the NFLPA game.
NFL.com: “Dixon is a natural pass catcher who plays with good poise and toughness. He’s more than willing to work over the middle and can finish with sure hands through very heavy contact.”
Cole Kelley, QB, Southeastern Louisiana
Height: 6-7; Weight: 249; Hand: 9 7/8; Arm: 33 3/4
Notable: NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah praised the 2020 Walter Payton Award recipient for a live arm and smooth delivery during throwing drills, a terrific sign for a signal caller who sometimes underthrew deep balls in college. Measured in at his late-season weight, but was 23 pounds more than the second-heaviest of 15 Combine QBs.
NFL.com: “He has a fairly sudden release and attacks all areas of the field, but he feasted on lesser talent in FCS secondaries and is unlikely to find an NFL roster until he proves he can work with better anticipation and more discipline when reading the field.”
E.J. Perry, QB, Brown
Height: 6-2; Weight: 211; Hand: 9; Arm: 32
40-Yard Dash: 4.65; Vertical Jump: 34-5; Broad Jump: 10-3; Three-Cone Drill: 6.85; 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.18
Notable: Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett drew the headlines for small hands, but Perry’s 9-inch measurement was third-smallest among QBs. His athletic build reflected in a 4.65 40 that was second-fastest among eight QBs who participated in the event.
NFL.com: “His toughness and talent as a runner create attention, as teams might ask Perry to add a few more pounds in order to see if he can become a valuable Swiss Army Knife who’s able to help at a variety of positions, including special teams.”
Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
Height: 6-4; Weight: 208; Hand: 10 1/8; Arm: 32 1/2
40-Yard Dash: 4.36; Vertical Jump: 38-5; Broad Jump: 11-4
Notable: The fast 40 underscored how the member of four NDSU national-championship seasons (one as a redshirt) averaged 55.2 yards on 18 career TDs (14 receiving, two rushing and two kickoff returns). First among wide receivers in the broad jump, Watson’s Combine and Senior Bowl week may have solidified second-round draft status.
NFL.com: “A receiver prospect with intriguing measurables and a strong belief in the team aspect of the game, Watson possesses an alluring combination of size and speed. He showed off improved route running and catch strength in 2021.”
Isaiah Weston, WR, Northern Iowa
Height: 6-3 1/2; Weight: 214; Hand: 9 1/2; Arm: 31 1/2
40-Yard Dash: 4.42; Bench Press: 20; Vertical Jump: 40-0; Broad Jump: 11-3
Notable: Weston showed off his athleticism: one of only three wide receivers out of 40 to participate on the bench press, he had 20 reps (the other two players went 14 and 11), and his vertical jump (40 inches) and broad jump (11-foot-3) were in the top mix of wide receivers.
NFL.com: “His primary function (at UNI) was to stretch and challenge defenses vertically, but he appears to have the physical tools to become a more nuanced route runner with more coaching.”
Bailey Zappe, QB, Houston Baptist/Western Kentucky
Height: 6-0 1/2; Weight: 215; Hand: 9 3/4; Arm: 31 3/8
40-Yard Dash: 4.88; Vertical Jump: 30-0; Broad Jump: 9-1; Three-Cone Drill: 7.19; 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.4
Notable: At Houston Baptist, Zappe set the FCS record for passing yards against an FBS opponent (567 versus Texas Tech on Sept. 12, 2020). At WKU last fall, he set FBS single-season records for passing yards (5,967) and TD passes (62).
NFL.com: “Zappe is a confident passer willing to challenge both man or zone coverages on all three levels. His release quickness and arm strength are both below average and he might not work with the anticipation or decision-making prowess to overcome those areas of concern.”
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