Plenty of good storylines despite a subpar year of picks
Much is made about FCS college football players entering the NFL with a chip on their shoulders.
That’s more the case this year after only 13 FCS players were selected in the 2019 draft — the smallest haul of the 2010s and five fewer than the average class. It's led to a lot of surprised and undrafted players going the free agent route.
With a lot of ups and downs over the three-day extravaganza, here are five takeaways with the FCS draft class:
HBCUs Flex Muscle
The Mid-Eastern Athletic and Southwestern Athletic conference both had a pair of draft selections, underscoring the talent still patrolling the fields at historically black colleges (HBCUs).
Alabama State offensive tackle Tytus Howard went to the Houston Texans at No. 23 overall, becoming only the second FCS player to be selected in the first round of the last 11 drafts (Carson Wentz, 2016).
The second SWAC pick seemingly came out of nowhere as pro day wonder Quinton Bell from Prairie View A&M was a seventh-round pick of the Oakland Raiders. Bell, Prairie View’s first draft selection since 1980, projects as a hybrid linebacker after he spent three seasons at wide receiver before moving across the line of scrimmage to defensive end his senior year.
The MEAC had a pair of seventh-rounders. North Carolina A&T defensive end Darryl Johnson went to the Buffalo Bills, making him the only one of four FCS underclassmen to be taken in the draft. Also, Morgan State offensive guard Joshua Miles went to the Arizona Cardinals as the 13th and final FCS pick.
Stick a Highlight Pick
No FCS pick drew as much attention as North Dakota State's Easton Stick, the starting quarterback of the last two Bison national title-winning teams. The Los Angeles Chargers selected Stick in the fifth round, but it was a matter of "what could have been" as the Philadelphia Eagles used the next pick on a quarterback, yet they were denied the chance to pair Stick with Carson Wentz, his predecessor at NDSU.
Stick's arm strength was questioned in the draft buildup, but his intelligent decision-making and ability to lead an offense stand out. He went 49-3 as a starter, setting an FCS quarterback record for wins.
It's in the Genes
The New York Jets took Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams with the third pick of the draft, but the celebrating for the family didn't stop there.
On the second night of the draft, Murray State's Quincy Williams, Quinnen's brother, went to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the third round at No. 98 overall. Not even a part of most mock drafts, the 5-foot-10, 225-pounder is eyed as a hybrid linebacker/safety after being a tackle machine as a senior.
Motivated More Than Ever
South Dakota State cornerback Jordan Brown was generally viewed by draft analysts with a fourth- or fifth-round grade, but he fell to the seventh round, taken by the Cincinnati Bengals.
At least Brown was drafted. Wide receivers Keelan Doss of UC Davis and Jazz Ferguson of Northwestern State were likely the top FCS talents not to be taken in the draft. They face a little more of an uphill climb after signing post-draft free agent contracts — Doss with the Oakland Raiders and Ferguson, who entered the draft as a junior, with the Seattle Seahawks.
In the final draft of the 2010s, CAA Football produced three more selections to finish with 28 in the decade — the most for an FCS conference. This year's picks were Delaware free safety Nasir Adderley (Los Angeles Chargers, second round), Elon offensive tackle Oli Udoh (Minnesota Vikings, sixth), and James Madison cornerback Jimmy Moreland (Washington Redskins, seventh).
The Missouri Valley Football Conference also had three draftees to finish with 24 selections in the 2010s followed next by the Southern and Big Sky conferences with 23 and 22, respectively.
There were 177 FCS draft selections from 2010-19. Every FCS conference had at least one selection.
— Written by Craig Haley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Haley has covered the FCS level since 1999 and is the national writer for www.fcs.football. He appears frequently on radio shows and podcasts to discuss everything FCS. Follow him on Twitter @CraigHaley.
(Photo courtesy of North Dakota State Athletics)