How FCS Prospects for the 2019 NFL Draft are Faring
It would be telling if some of the 2019 NFL Draft prospects coming out of FCS college football could line up against each other – it’s a solid year for wide receivers and defensive backs.
But the FCS has been producing talent all over the board.
The focus on FCS prospects seems to grow with each draft. The 2018 class went 19 deep, adding Indianapolis Colts tackling machine Darius Leonard (South Carolina State) to recent classes that featured Carson Wentz (North Dakota State), Cooper Kupp (Eastern Washington) and David Johnson (Northern Iowa).
The 2019 class may have fewer FCS selections in the draft, but several hundred players always join NFL camps as undrafted signees. Each season, there are generally about 150 former FCS players on NFL rosters.
Here's a look at how some of the top 2019 FCS prospects are faring this season.
— 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.
Nasir Adderley, DB
Delaware, 5-11, 200
The way Adderley trucked over a New Hampshire player on a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown underscores his powerful style of play. Although he’s been playing safety as a senior, his size should transition him back to cornerback, where he played his first three college seasons, in the NFL. Either way, his ability to anticipate routes and play with physical cover skills could make the CAA Football talent the first FCS player selected in the 2019 NFL Draft.
(Photo courtesy of Delaware Athletics)
Jordan Brown, CB
South Dakota State, 6-0, 200
A standout junior season took Brown’s stock to a draftable level, and opponents are wisely staying away from his side of the field this season. When he gets near the ball, he always seems to get a disruptive hand on it. A former wide receiver in high school, he’s thrown a blanket over them in the rugged Missouri Valley Football Conference. He’s played some of the best games in his career against the Jackrabbits’ strongest opponents.
(Photo courtesy of South Dakota State Athletics)
Josh Buss, OLB
Montana, 6-2, 220
The only FCS player on the 2019 Butkus Award watch list has come on strong from a summer injury that slowed him down early as a senior. Included in Montana’s Big Sky wins were three sacks against Sacramento State and an 80-yard fumble return for a touchdown against Cal Poly. He plays with an attacking style, including 20 tackles for a loss as a sophomore, but is equally comfortable dropping back into pass coverage.
(Photo courtesy of Montana Athletics)
Emmanuel Butler, WR
Northern Arizona, 6-3, 220
A missed game and a revolving door at quarterback might keep Butler from having a third 1,000-yard receiving season (he’s the only player with two in Northern Arizona history). He uses his body well to shield off defenders and attack the ball. A shoulder injury ended his 2017 season early, but he is back strong this season. In his Big Sky career, he’s had three 100-yard games against FBS opponents, including against UTEP this season when he had an 84-yard reception as one of his two touchdowns.
(Photo courtesy of Northern Arizona Athletics)
Keelan Doss, WR
UC Davis, 6-2, 209
Doss is suited for the slot with his power coming across the middle of the field. The 2017 Big Sky offensive player of the year simply knows how to get open in a crowded area and doesn’t hold back in attacking the ball with his size and speed. After leading all Division I players with 10.5 receptions as a junior, and finishing third in the voting for the Walter Payton Award, Doss has been good for nearly nine catches a game as a senior.
(Photo courtesy of UC Davis Athletics)
Drew Forbes, OT
Southeast Missouri, 6-5, 305
Named a breakout lineman during the offseason, Forbes has had a dominant senior season, which has helped Southeast Missouri post its best campaign since 2010. Scouts are impressed by Forbes’ terrific movement and ever-developing skill set. He plays with consistency and is durable, with 30 straight starts at left tackle heading into November. He should give SEMO its second draft pick in as many years, following linebacker Kendall Donnerson (Green Bay, 7th Round).
(Photo courtesy of Southeast Missouri Athletics)
Chris Johnson, FS
North Alabama, 6-2, 200
A Division II All-American who picked off six passes as a junior, Johnson has helped North Alabama make the transition to the FCS, including a season-opening win at 2017 Big Sky co-champ Southern Utah. He is a big safety who plays center field, ready to attack passes or move in for open-field tackles. He began his college career on the FCS level at Albany before he transferred back to his home state. He’s rated as high as No. 6 at his position by NFL Draft Scout.
(Photo courtesy of North Alabama Athletics)
Olisaemeka Udoh, OT
Elon, 6-4, 336
“Oli” is the fast riser of the 2018 FCS season. The four-year starter’s size is undeniable and he’s strong enough to squat more than 600 pounds in the weight room. But he also displays excellent agility for a big man. After starting his senior season off strong against South Florida, Udoh has helped Elon’s emerging program knock off FCS power James Madison. Although adept in run and pass blocking, Udoh doesn’t have excellent foot speed, so the CAA talent could move over to guard at the next level.
(Photo courtesy of Elon Athletics)
Others to Watch
Alexander Hollins, WR, Eastern Illinois, 6-1, 170 – Huge senior season began with three TD receptions against Arkansas.
Jesper Horsted, WR, Princeton, 6-3, 220 – Two-sport athlete (also a Princeton baseball player) is a downfield pass catcher.
Iosua Opeta, OT, Weber State, 6-3, 305 – His four starts at defensive tackle as a freshman suggest his versatility and aggressive style.
Logan Parker, TE, Southern Utah, 6-4, 251 – Has battled injuries as a senior, but NFL teams have looked to the FCS for tight ends.
Troy Reeder, ILB, Delaware, 6-2, 245 – Former Penn State starter plays with a hard-nosed style and could make an NFL impact on special teams.
Derick Roberson, DE/OLB, Sam Houston State, 6-4, 235 – Collected eight sacks during a three-game stretch in October.
Khalen Saunders, DT, Western Illinois, 6-2, 310 – Surprising agility allows Saunders to power through the middle of the line .
Easton Stick, QB, North Dakota State, 6-2, 221 – He’s not the next Carson Wentz, but Stick wins big in the FCS dynasty’s pro-style system.