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 fourth question surrounds potential rookie successes this year:
From the FCS draft prospects, which offensive and defensive players do you expect to have the most success as rookies, and why?
Eric Galko (@EricGalko), Optimum Scouting LLC/East-West Shrine Bowl
”On offense, I think (tight end) Tucker Kraft of South Dakota State can step into an NFL offense and immediately be a contributing TE2 with physical, mid-field receiving ability. I think he ends up in the mid-rounds, but not unlike (the New York Giants’) Daniel Bellinger, I think he outperforms multiple tight ends drafted before him.
“And defensively, I don’t mean to mention him again, but (Stephen F. Austi edge) B.J. Thompson will be in a rotation as a rookie and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if has a similar James Houston-like rookie season as a situational speed rusher to start and develop into much more.”
Emory Hunt (@FBallGameplan), Football Gameplan/CBS Sports HQ
“I’m a big fan of wide receiver Taylor Grimes of Incarnate Word. He’s got the speed, quickness and skill set to see time early as a rookie and thrive. He can play inside or outside, and it’s that flexibility that gives him a chance to be successful.
“On the defensive side of the ball, how about linebacker Aubrey Miller of Jackson State. To me, he’s going to hit the ground running on special teams, but find a way to get into the regular defensive rotation. He had a fantastic week at the Senior Bowl.”
Ric Serritella (@RicSerritella), NFL Draft Bible on Sports Illustrated
“The most pro-ready prospects would likely be North Dakota State’s Cody Mauch (offensive lineman) and Florida A&M’s Isaiah Land (outside linebacker). There’s a reason why they were invited to the Senior Bowl. Both players did very well.
“Mauch has position versatility and could start at guard for the next decade, while Land might translate best as an off-ball linebacker in the NFL. Mauch also seems to be primed for some off-field endorsements – the media gravitates to him.”