Players who need to raise their status in the coming months
A number of standouts from the FCS level shined at postseason all-star games in January, a group led by Dayton tight end Adam Trautman and Southern Illinois safety Jeremy Chinn at the Reese's Senior Bowl and Illinois State running back James Robinson and safety Luther Kirk and Montana linebacker Dante Olson at the East-West Shrine Bowl.
The NFL Draft class coming out of the NFL should be bigger in April than it was a year ago, and so many other players are trying hard to impress scouts with a boost at the scouting combine or a pro day in the next two months.
Here are seven former FCS All-Americans who hope to answer questions and raise their stock:
Charlie Taumoepeau, TE/FB, Portland State
A lack of size (6-2, 245) has led to him being viewed in the Kyle Juszczyk mold, which isn't necessarily bad, but Charlie T. is going to need to refine his blocking skills as a fullback and H-back to complement his pass-catching abilities at tight end. (NFL Scouting Combine and pro day)
Alex Taylor, OT, South Carolina State
Taylor was the tallest player (6-8.5) and had the largest hands (36.5) at the Senior Bowl, but he struggled against the speed of FBS pass rushers. He also battled knee tendinitis at the nation's premier college all-star game. (NFL Scouting Combine and pro day)
Pete Guerriero, RB, Monmouth
The 2019 FCS rushing leader (1,995 yards) relinquished his final season of eligibility to enter the draft. He is fast, reads blocks well, and catches passes out of the backfield, but Monmouth has had only two players drafted in its 26-year history. (Pro day)
Case Cookus, QB, Northern Arizona
A lack of an all-star game invites was surprising and concerning, although the 24-year-old Cookus has good size (6-3, 205) and was highly productive throughout his career (12,076 passing yards and 105 touchdown passes). He suffered season-ending injuries in 2016 and '18. (Pro day)
Nasir Player, DE, East Tennessee State
The aptly named Player is a bit like Case Cookus with good size (6-5, 265) and production (40 tackles for a loss and 18.5 sacks in his career), but he's going to have to prove his speed and skill set measure up for the next level. (Pro day)
Manny Patterson, CB, Maine
After missing the final month of the 2019 season with a knee injury, the crafty corner will want to show steps in his recovery. A tad undersized (5-10, 180), his 57 career pass breakups were more than any Division I player in this year's draft class. (Pro day)
Ben Ellefson, TE, North Dakota State
All Ellefson does is catch touchdowns. The three-time national champ (plus another time as a redshirt freshman) only had 35 career passes, but 16 went for scores. His size (6-3, 250) could lead to opportunities in a fullback/H-back role — a sound run blocker who is quick to move into passing lanes. (Pro day)
— 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.
(Pete Guerriero photo courtesy of Monmouth Athletics)