It’s never too early to look at the subdivision talent on the horizon
New Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp may soon be coming to an NFL end zone near you. Look for pass rushers Tanoh Kpassagnon (Kansas City Chiefs) and Derek Rivers (New England Patriots) to camp out in your favorite team’s offensive backfield.
The FCS level is fresh off placing 15 players in the recent NFL draft, and the 2018 class of senior prospects appears even deeper.
Here are 10 draft candidates (in alphabetical order) who scouts will be keeping a close eye on leading toward the 2018 draft:
Jeremiah Briscoe, QB, Sam Houston State (6-3, 220)
As a junior, Briscoe won the Walter Payton Award after setting the subdivision’s single-season record with 57 touchdown passes. Cut from a gun-slinger mold, the former UAB signal-caller also completed better than 62 percent of his passes for 4,602 yards.
Nick DeLuca, ILB, North Dakota State (6-3, 248)
DeLuca is returning to Fargo in 2017 as a fifth-year senior after he missed most of last season with a shoulder injury. He has a nose for the ball and plays with an edge. In the Bison’s 2015 FCS championship season, he racked up 135 tackles – 54 more than any teammate.
Chase Edmonds, RB, Fordham (5-9, 210)
With 5,285 rushing yards over 37 career games, Edmonds is on pace to become the all-time leader in the FCS (former Georgia Southern running back Adrian Peterson holds the mark with 6,559 yards). He has bulked up to run between the tackles and improve as a pass blocker.
Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State (6-4, 245)
Has become unstoppable on the FCS level, catching a school-record 92 passes as a junior. Will reel in passes with one hand and has excellent speed for his position. Figures to be one of the higher-ranked FCS prospects in 2018.
P.J. Hall, DL, Sam Houston State (6-1, 280)
Although he plays a fierce defensive end in college, the physical Hall projects to move inside on the next level. Despite commanding double-teams, he has totaled 36 sacks and 67 tackles for a loss through three seasons. On special teams, he blocked five kicks in each of his first two seasons.
Deion Harris, CB, North Dakota (6-2, 180)
The lanky Harris brings excellent length to his position. As a junior, he intercepted five passes and returned three for touchdowns. Has played a big part in North Dakota becoming a major player on the FCS level.
Ebenezer Ogundeko, DE, Tennessee State (6-3, 255)
Spent two years at Clemson, including a redshirt season, before getting dismissed following an arrest. “Ebo” been a terror in the Ohio Valley Conference, powering into opposing backfields from around the edge. Was off to a big start in 2016 before being hampered by an injury.
Brandon Parker, OT, North Carolina A&T (6-7, 300)
A left tackle who has been named the MEAC offensive lineman of the year twice, Parker did not allow a sack and committed only two penalties as a junior. He has good length and tools, and figures to add quality weight for the next level.
Cole Reyes, SS, North Dakota (6-2, 215)
Gritty playmaker who hits hard is an anchor on one of the leading defenses in the FCS. Has a versatile playing style suited for shutting down the pass or playing run support. He will be a fourth-year starter, but there are injury concerns considering he missed two games in each of the last two seasons.
Jake Wieneke, WR, South Dakota State (6-3, 215)
Crafty pass catcher has more than 100 receiving yards against each of his three FBS opponents (Missouri, Kansas and TCU). Through three seasons, he’s been the closest thing to Cooper Kupp with 223 receptions for 4,192 yards and 43 touchdowns. Has good size and uses it well against defenders.
Larry Allen Jr., OG, Harvard, 6-4, 285 (sitting out 2017 season and may not enter 2018 NFL Draft)
Lane Clark, PK, Tennessee State, 5-11, 170
Mike Basile, FS, Monmouth, 6-1, 200
Davontae Harris, CB, Illinois State, 5-11, 200
Joe Protheroe, FB, Cal Poly, 5-11, 228
Aaron Stinnie, OG, James Madison, 6-5, 290
— 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.
(Jake Wieneke photo by South Dakota State Athletics)