Quality and quantity come together with the class of FCS prospects trying to impress before the 2018 NFL Draft.
Twenty from the subdivision will be among over 335 players in Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine from Feb. 27-March 5. All 32 teams will take an up close and personal look at measurements and medical examinations, psychological testing, interviews and on-field workouts.
A number of the former FCS standouts gained momentum on the all-star game circuit in January. Here are a half dozen (in alphabetical order) who are particularly intriguing and seeking to raise their draft stock.
Nick DeLuca, North Dakota State, MLB, 6-2½, 243
Despite an uneven week, DeLuca impressed enough at the Senior Bowl that scouts may temper concerns of his injuries the last two seasons. The question is, how much? His instincts and toughness are unquestioned, but he'll need to flash NFL closing speed for open spaces, so his time in the 40-yard dash will be watched closely.
Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State, TE, 6-4½, 260
Expected to be the first FCS player taken in the draft, the athletic tight end had his week at the Senior Bowl end by a hamstring injury on the first day of practice. A second-round grade is there for the taking with an impressive week in Indianapolis.
Kyle Lauletta, Richmond, QB, 6½, 217
Winning the most outstanding player award at the Senior Bowl has opened plenty of eyes on Lauletta. While he impresses with his high football IQ, he still has to answer concerns about arm strength. It would be surprising if he’s not on an NFL roster next season.
Darius Leonard, South Carolina State, 6-2, 229
Leonard had a ridiculously strong Senior Bowl with a game-high 14 tackles. Scouts want to know if he can transition from the MEAC to the NFL, but South Carolina State has produced solid talent, so Leonard’s range and production draw an extra look.
Siran Neal, Jacksonville State, S, 6-0, 206
Neal’s versatility in college was impressive — he was a linebacker as a sophomore, a safety as a junior and a cornerback as a senior. But it also means he has to show consistency and technique as he settles into a role at the next level. He plays receivers tight, so he will want to flash next-level quickness.
Timon Parris, Stony Brook, OT, 6-5, 320
A fractured fibula suffered last October isn’t expected to keep Parris from becoming Stony Brook’s first-ever draft choice. Having skipped the Senior Bowl, he will want to showcase how much he is recuperating. His size is distributed well and his collection of raw skills is tantalizing.
FCS Players Invited to 2018 NFL Scouting Combine
When: Feb. 27-March 5
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis)
On-Field Workouts: March 2, running backs, offensive linemen, placekickers and special teamers; March 3, quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends; March 4, defensive linemen and linebackers; March 5, defensive backs
Quarterback: Kyle Lauletta, Richmond, 6½, 217
Running Back: Chase Edmonds, Fordham, 5-8, 203; Roc Thomas, Jacksonville State, 5-11, 193
Tight End: Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State, 6-4½, 260
Wide Receiver: Jake Wieneke, South Dakota State, 6-4, 218
Offensive Guard: Jamil Demby, Maine, 6-4½, 323; Skyler Phillips, Idaho State, 6-2½, 314
Offensive Tackle: Brandon Parker, North Carolina A&T, 6-7, 323; Timon Parris, Stony Brook, 6-5, 320; Greg Senat, Wagner, 6-6, 294
Defensive End: John Franklin-Myers, Stephen F. Austin, 6-3½, 280
Defensive Tackle: Bilal Nichols, Delaware, 6-3½, 301
Outside Linebacker: Nick DeLuca, North Dakota State, 6½, 243; Darius Jackson, Jacksonville State, 6-2, 233; Darius Leonard, South Carolina State, 6-2, 229
Cornerback: Davontae Harris, Illinois State, 5-11, 203; Danny Johnson, Southern, 5-9, 182; Taron Johnson, Weber State, 5-11, 189; D’Montre Wade, Murray State, 5-11, 201
Safety: Siran Neal, Jacksonville State, 6-0, 206
— 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 Richmond Athletics)