Everybody loves to find value with hidden games and sleeper picks in the NFL Draft.
Many come from FCS college football – the lower half of Division I college football – with recent examples including Cooper Kupp, Darius Leonard and Foye Oluokun.
This year, another class of FCS prospects will be selected during the April 27-29 draft in Kansas City, Missouri.
The Analyst called on a roundtable of experts to evaluate the prospects – Eric Galko of Optimum Scouting and the East-West Shrine Game, Emory Hunt of Football Gameplan and CBS Sports HQ, 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 prospects who have risen during the draft process:
In the build-up to the draft, which two or three FCS players have helped themselves the most with an all-star game performance or testing?
Eric Galko (@EricGalko), Optimum Scouting LLC/East-West Shrine Bowl
“I mentioned (edge) B.J. Thompson of Stephen F. Austin previously. He dominated at the (East-West) Shrine Bowl practices and in the game, then was a surprising NFL Combine omission. Hampton receiver Jadakis Bonds had the best catch of the Shrine Bowl week, and impressed as an outside receiver during the week. And Truman Jones of Harvard. Maybe surprising to some, but I feel he’s got a real shot, if not highly likely, to be a draft pick. He’s an impressive athlete who wowed at his pro day athletically and has been busy on the NFL visit circuit.”
(A look back: Recapping the 2023 NFL Combine)
Emory Hunt (@FBallGameplan), Football Gameplan/CBS Sports HQ
“Two guys who have really helped themselves out are Incarnate Word quarterback Lindsay Scott Jr. – the 2022 Walter Payton Award winner – and cornerback Keenan Isaac of Alabama State. Both guys really stood out at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. For Scott, it was him both measuring at 5-10, 5-11 and also playing exceptionally well. Isaac came in at 6-2, 188 pounds and showcased the length, athleticism and skill set to handle the step up in competition.”
(A look back: Recapping the major college all-star games)
Ric Serritella (@RicSerritella), NFL Draft Bible on Sports Illustrated
“Princeton wide receiver Andrei Iosivas repped the Ivy League extremely well in Mobile (Alabama, at the Senior Bowl). His one-on-one reps throughout the practice week highlighted his superb route running. In addition, Iosivas brings legit 4.4 track speed. He would be the first Princeton player drafted since 2016 (Seth DeValve).
“Stephen F. Austin edge B.J. Thompson really impressed at the East-West Shrine Bowl. He flashed quick burst off the snap, has the frame to bulk up and has a high motor. He struggled to stay healthy and was not invited to Indy (NFL Scouting Combine), but he laid down some athletic testing numbers at pro day and is an intriguing developmental pass-rusher.
“Sacramento State linebacker/strong safety Marte Mapu was trending toward being a potential top-100 overall selection. He was dominant at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and received the call-up to Mobile. Mapu proved deserving of being on the Senior Bowl stage and is a chess piece who can play safety, nickel or linebacker. He tore his pec at pro day on the bench press, which is unfortunate. He’ll be a steal.”
(Haley, Serritella had similar takes on FCS risers at the all-star games)