There are so many ways to impress at the NFL Scouting Combine — measurements, on-field drills, team interviews — and some players from the FCS must feel they aced the test that concluded on Monday in Indianapolis.
Always feeling they have to do just a bit more, FCS prospects made their mark in the week-long meat market that leads toward the 2018 NFL Draft from April 26-28 in Arlington, Texas. And some players didn't leave the best of impressions.
Here are some of the players who should feel good after the Combine and a few who have plenty of work ahead of them.
Davontae Harris, CB, Illinois State
5-11 3/8, 205
Always physical in run support, Harris finished first among cornerbacks with 22 reps in the 225-pound bench press. In addition, he posted a solid 4.43 in the 40-yard dash, boosting his resume for man-to-man coverage. Not a prototypical cover corner, however, he could transition to safety at the next level.
Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond
6-2 5/8, 222
Lauletta showed off his athleticism and threw well during the workout portion of the Combine. Among the quarterbacks, he posted the quickest 20-yard shuttle (4.07 seconds), was fourth in the 3-cone drill (6.95) and the broad jump (9 feet, 5 inches), and tied for fourth in the vertical jump (31 inches). There’s also little doubt the MVP of the Reese’s Senior Bowl impressed with team interviews as he known for having a high football IQ.
John Franklin, DL, Stephen F. Austin
6-3 7/8, 283
Franklin, a defensive end in college who likely projects there in a 3-4 alignment, trimmed nearly 10 pounds off his 2017 weight, and it allowed him to post excellent numbers at the Combine, including a 4.75 40-yard dash that ranked fifth among defensive linemen. His 26 reps in the bench press also were a strong showing considering his 82-inch wingspan. He could be a late-round find.
Brandon Parker, OT, North Carolina A&T
6-7 5/8, 305
Many consider Parker will be the second FCS player drafted after South Dakota State tight end Dallas Goedert, who’s likely a second-round pick. Parker measured in well, including an exceptional wingspan (84 7/8). His athleticism was on display with a 9-foot, 5-inch broad jump, which tied for third among offensive linemen. Basically, the three-time MEAC offensive lineman of the year did little to tarnish the intrigue surrounding him.
Nick DeLuca, ILB, North Dakota State
6-2 5/8, 251
The negative during DeLuca’s outstanding NDSU career was injuries, and as he moves toward the next level, his NFL.com bio notes he “doesn't run fast even when healthy,” so scouts would have preferred to be surprised in the speed drills at the Combine. Instead the hard-nosed tackler had a 4.85 40, beating only one other linebacker. His 18 reps on the bench press were pedestrian as well.
D’Montre Wade, CB, Murray State
5-11 1/8, 206
Wade was five pounds heavier than his measurement at the Senior Bowl and wasn’t exceptional with speed (4.57 in the 40 and 4.40 in the 20-yard shuttle) or power (15 reps in the bench press). Considering he didn’t face a high level of opposing quarterbacks as a senior, he needed to do more at the Combine.
Jake Wieneke, WR South Dakota State
While he showed good hands in the pass-catching drills, Wieneke (above, right) disappointed in the 40 by clocking 4.67. That’s not necessarily an ominous development — Eastern Washington’s Cooper Kupp had a 4.62 at last year’s combine — but a little more quickness would have helped Wieneke stand out a little more in what appears to be a fairly deep wide receiver draft class. Plus, his nine reps on the bench press were well below average for his position.
— 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.
(Kyle Lauletta photo courtesy of Richmond Athletics; Jake Wieneke photo courtesy of South Dakota State Athletics)