Haley’s Quick-Hit FCS Storylines
- Last year’s large FCS draft class (24 players) has become the exception as the NFL continues to stress Power-Five players and wait to sign FCS, even Group of Five players to free agent contracts. The 2020 (six), ’21 (six) and ’23 (11) classes combine for one fewer pick than the 2022 group.
- Sorry, Jackrabbit fans, but it’s still a Bison Nation in late April as North Dakota State becomes the first FCS program with at least one pick in five straight drafts since Florida A&M from 1994-98.
- The Missouri Valley and CAA both claimed two players as nine conferences were represented among the FCS selections. The MVFC leads by far with 18 of the 47 FCS picks during the decade (2020-23).
- Marte Mapu becomes Sacramento State’s highest-ever draft pick and Travis Bell the first in Kennesaw State’s eight-season program history.
- While strong pro days created some surprise FCS picks, the list of undrafted players also turned heads, including NDSU fullback Hunter Luepke, Chattanooga offensive guard McClendon Curtis and Florida A&M outside linebacker Isaiah Land.
They may be labeled as “small school,” but, make no mistake, the new group of FCS players entering the NFL are arriving with a chip on their shoulder.
And determined to make an impact.
Following are the 11 former FCS players who were selected in the 2023 NFL Draft. There were 259 overall picks.
FCS Selections in 2023 NFL Draft
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Round 2, No. 48 overall pick): Cody Mauch, North Dakota State, OL, 6-5, 302
Notable: 94% overall grade with no sacks allowed and only one penalty in 622 snaps across the 2022 regular season; finished eighth in the voting as the only offensive lineman up for the Walter Payton Award
The Draft Bible: “Mauch is an excellent athlete who possesses ideal lateral and vertical agility to mirror defenders in pass protection or climb to the second level and pick off linebackers in the run game.”
New England Patriots (3, 76): Marte Mapu, Sacramento State, OLB, 6-2 1/2, 217
Notable: 2022 Big Sky defensive player of the year had seven interceptions and 22 passes defended over final three seasons as a defensive back; this is highest-ever selection of a Sac State player
The Draft Bible: “One of the biggest draft risers during the draft season until an injury (torn pectoral) prior to his pro day workout, Mapu is fast, physical and flies to the football.”
Green Bay Packers (3, 78): Tucker Kraft, South Dakota State, TE, 6-5, 254
Notable: Entered draft as a junior after SDSU’s national championship season and was one of nine tight ends picked in the first three rounds (the most since 1967); led FCS tight ends with 65 receptions in 2021
The Draft Bible: “His stiff arm is lethal for smaller defenders. Kraft high points and rises to the ball, and offers significant upside in contested catch situations.”
Los Angeles Rams (3, 89): Kobie Turner, Richmond/Wake Forest, DT, 6-3, 299
Notable: Showed versatility across the D-line over a highly productive career (196 tackles, 18 sacks, 43.5 TFLs, seven forced fumbles)
The Draft Bible: “As an athlete, Turner displays good agility for an interior player. His core strength, balance and lower-body control are impressive.”
Detroit Lions (5, 152): Colby Sorsdal, William & Mary, OG, 6-5 1/2, 301
Notable: Right tackle made 46 career starts, helped William & Mary’s 2022 co-CAA championship squad rank third in the FCS in rushing and rank fourth in fewest allowed sacks per game
CBS Sports: “He has a long frame and is a good athlete who moves well in space, but his 32 3/4-inch arms could necessitate a move inside at the next level. He’ll also need to add some weight to anchor better in pass protection.”
Kansas City Chiefs (5, 166): B.J. Thompson, Stephen F. Austin, OLB, 6-5, 238
Notable: Baylor transfer has quick burst off the edge, collected 20.5 sacks in three seasons at SFA; has an impressive 82.5-inch wingspan
The Draft Bible: “An athletic freak, he is faster than some running backs. His burst and explosion were on full display during the week of East-West Shrine Bowl practices, as he proved to be a certified backfield disruptor.”
Cincinnati Bengals (6, 206): Andrei Iosivas, Princeton, WR, 6-3, 205
Notable: Speedster recorded Ivy League’s receiving Triple Crown as a senior (66 receptions, 943 yards, seven touchdowns)
The Draft Bible: “One of the elite athletes in the 2023 draft class, Iosivas possesses a rare combination of size, speed, instincts, hands and athleticism.”
Indianapolis Colts (6, 211): Titus Leo, Wagner, DE, 6-3 1/2, 243
Notable: Two-time Northeast Conference defensive player of the year had 36.5 TFLs in his final 24 career games; Wagner’s fourth all-time draft pick
The Draft Bible: “Primarily rushing from the left side, Leo is extremely quick off the ball snap, stays low and shows violent hands, to go along with great strength. He possesses NFL size, length and power, and plays with a high level of intensity.”
Chicago Bears (7, 218): Travis Bell, Kennesaw State, DT, 6-0, 310
Notable: Stout big man recorded 24.5 TFLs and 11 sacks in 54 career games; KSU’s first-ever draft pick had impressive pro day, including 30 bench press reps and 32 1/2-inch vertical
NFL.com: “Bell is an interior defender with decent lateral quickness and power at the point of attack. He lacks the overall mass and anchor to eat up blocks inside, though.
Tennessee Titans (7, 228): Colton Dowell, UT Martin, WR, 6-3, 212
Notable: Set all-time UTM records in receiving yards (2,796) and 100-yard games (12); 41-5 vertical jump at his pro day was best among FCS draft prospects
CBS Sports: “Dowell is a pro’s pro in the sense that everything he does is clean and consistent. From route-running to setting up the defender and making the grab with his hands, everything is clinic tape.”
New England Patriots (7, 245): Isaiah Bolden, Jackson State, CB, 6-2, 231
Notable: Had breakout senior season under former JSU coach Deion Sanders, totaling 44 tackles, seven passes defended and one fumble recovery; draft’s first selection from an HBCU clocked a 4.31-second 40-yard dash on pro day
NFL.com: “Bolden projects as a press-man cornerback with plus size, length and top-end speed. He lacks the instincts and technique to maintain his feel for routes in off-man and zone coverages, but he might have a chance to utilize his traits effectively in a physical snap-to-whistle cover scheme.”
(Undrafted players can still make some noise. Here’s our free agent tracker.)