FCS Roundtable of NFL Draft Experts: Fast Risers
Four (if not more) seasons of game film fill the resumes of FCS players being considered for the NFL Draft and beyond.
Still, all-star games, the NFL Combine and pro days have been important in the build-up toward the April 28-30 draft.
The Analyst called on a roundtable of experts who know the value of prospects coming from the FCS – Emory Hunt of Football Gameplan and CBSSportsHQ, Jordan Reid of ESPN and Ric Serritella of NFL Draft Bible on Sports Illustrated. Over five days this week, we’re picking their brains on how the FCS class stacks up in this year’s NFL Draft.
Our third question surrounds FCS players who have risen during the draft build-up:
In the build-up to the draft, which two or three FCS players have helped themselves the most with an all-star game performance, measurables or testing?
Emory Hunt (@FBallGameplan), Football Gameplan/CBSSportsHQ
“I honestly think the QBs – E.J. Perry (Brown), Aqeel Glass (Alabama A&M) and Cole Kelley (Southeastern Louisiana) helped themselves the most, taking full advantage of all the opportunities that were given to them. Both Glass and Kelley were outstanding all week at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, and you could’ve split that MVP award (which went to Kelley) right down the middle and given the other half to Glass. Both E.J. Perry (East-West Shrine Game) and Cole Kelley walked away with MVP awards from their respective games, and Glass could’ve won one. The cool part is that all three have now put themselves in position to be draftable players. Both Perry and Kelley had really good NFL Combine workouts, and there was a lot of buzz surrounding both players. Glass had a stellar week at the HBCU Legacy Bowl as well.”
Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid), ESPN
“I’ll go with three players that I have had the privilege of seeing up-close-and personal during the pre-draft process. (Linebacker) Troy Andersen of Montana State has one of the more unconventional back stories of any prospect in this class – playing different positions and not experiencing any type of drop-off. Since the end of the FCS national title game until now, he’s continued to answer each and every question that scouts have had about him. Lots of teams will likely target him in the third round.
“(Cornerback) Decobie Durant of South Carolina State. Coming from a program that’s recently produced standout NFL players like Darius Leonard and Javon Hargrave, Durant is the next in line. A little undersized at 5-10, 180, he’s likely to slide inside to nickel in the NFL. Every step of the year, Durant has helped himself. Recording two interceptions against Clemson, winning Defensive MVP of the Celebration Bowl, and having a productive week of practices at the East-West Shrine Bowl. Nickel cornerbacks are usually targeted in the fourth round, which is the target area for Durant to be selected.
“(Running back) Pierre Strong Jr. of South Dakota State, he’s a player whose stock is seemingly on the rise. All he did for the Jackrabbits is consistently produce. At 5-11, 207, he ran a 4.37 40 time, which routinely showed up on his game film. Likely to be a third down option early on, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if he goes on to play a bigger role as his rookie season progresses.”
Ric Serritella (@RicSerritella), NFL Draft Bible on Sports Illustrated
“No one boosted his draft stock more than Missouri State defensive tackle Eric Johnson, who crushed every step of the pre-draft process. Johnson created a buzz for himself during the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, with NFL scouts imploring that he immediately be shipped off to the Senior Bowl. In Mobile, Johnson continued to dominate, winning the majority of his one-on-one reps against the upper echelon of competition. For good measure, the 6-4, 300-pounder timed 4.85 in the 40-yard dash at his pro day, which would have placed him third amongst defensive tackles at the (NFL) Combine.
(Five FCS players who gained an all-star game boost)
“After getting shut out of the last two NFL drafts, Norfolk State defensive end De’Shaan Dixon should put HBCUs back on the map. Standing in at 6-4, 251, Dixon possesses an 81-inch wingspan with a frame that is still growing. He clearly looks the part and played the part at the East-West Shrine Bowl, where he was one of the standout performers. Dixon continued his dominance at the HBCU Legacy Bowl with two-thirds of the league in attendance, where he continued to showcase his impressive blend of size, strength and bend. His one-on-one reps at both events will want to make evaluators go back and check the video tape.”