For every Cooper Kupp, there's a Jamal Agnew. Eastern Washington's Kupp was the talk out of the FCS for the 2017 NFL Draft and was selected in the third round. Meanwhile, Agnew flew under radars and didn't have much buzz. Yet the San Diego cornerback got drafted in the fifth round and was named an All-Pro punt returner as a rookie.
For every Derek Rivers, there's a Chase Allen or Dylan Cole. Rivers, out of Youngstown State, was another third-round draft pick in 2017. Southern Illinois' Allen and Missouri State's Cole went undrafted, signed free-agent deals and started a handful of games as rookies.
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In last year's draft, Stephen F. Austin defensive end John Franklin-Myers appeared to be a late-round guy but was selected in the fourth round.
Every year, several FCS players are projected too low in the draft or simply aren't getting the buzz they deserve. There are plenty of these guys at this point in the process this year.
Here are 10 of the biggest FCS sleepers right now in the 2019 NFL Draft:
Bruce Anderson, North Dakota St. RB
Anderson has been looked at as a late-round draft pick for most of his senior season with the Bison. He had a good start to the draft process in January, impressing during the first day of Senior Bowl practices, especially with his route-running and hands. But a re-aggravated leg injury sidelined him the rest of the week and cost him any shot at a Combine invite.
Anderson is the total package and his tape proves it. Film junkies on Twitter praise Anderson's speed, power, balance, vision and athleticism. But until scouts can get a glimpse of him in person and see how his leg is doing, the buzz around Anderson has stalled and has him hovering around a seventh round to free agent prospect. Considering how many running backs get drafted (22 last year), Anderson should be looked at as a higher draft pick.
Davion Davis, Sam Houston St. WR
Davis has been one of the FCS' elite receivers for multiple years, finishing with 226 career catches for 3,181 yards and 40 touchdowns. He missed the final two games of his senior season with a lower leg injury.
“He has a future at the next level, so in my mind we have to make the decision that is going to be best for him,” SHSU head coach K.C. Keeler told The Huntsville Item. “Trying to get him back, I think there's a chance there could be a re-injury, so we don't want to do that. … One of the greatest receivers in the history of this conference, and he's a better person than he is a player. I think he'll be able to play on Sundays. He'll be greatly, greatly missed.”
He hasn't been talked about much so far in the draft process and didn't participate in any of the three main all-star games. But Davis can flat-out ball and has the type of skills any NFL offense would love to utilize.
Devlin Hodges, Samford QB
The best offensive player in the FCS in 2018 has the stats to grab anyone's attention. However, when you're playing at this level, scouts want to see what you did against FBS opponents. Here's how Hodges fared:
- 2018 vs. Florida State: 39-60 for 475 yards, 2 TDs, 4 INT.
- 2017 vs. Georgia: 26-35 for 227 yards, 2 TDs
- 2016 vs. Mississippi State: 42-69 for 468 yards, 4 TDs, 3 INT.
Hodges has shown he can perform against Power 5-level defenses with FCS-level offensive talent. With a less-than-stellar quarterback draft class, it's interesting that Hodges isn't valued higher.
Dom Bragalone, Lehigh RB
Bragalone hasn't had much NFL attention on him yet. But if he gets a shot, he can turn into that next "small-school" success story. His senior season wasn't as dominant as past years (757 yards and seven touchdowns). As a sophomore and junior, Bragalone combined for 2,559 yards and 32 touchdowns.
At 5-foot-11 and 230 pounds, he's a tough runner that could also help a team at the fullback position in some packages. The talent is there. But lack of film against FBS opponents might make scouts hesitant.
Donald Parham, Stetson TE
Parham's skill set as a tight end might still be a little raw, but the potential is through the roof. He stands 6-foot-8 and weighs 240 pounds, a frame that any NFL team would love to have as a receiving threat.
Parham went off in 2018 and was named to multiple All-American teams. He earned a spot in the Senior Bowl and drew plenty of attention. He's still looked at as a late-round guy, but Parham could turn into a big-time steal if he's picked that far down the draft board.
Emmanuel Butler, Northern Arizona WR
At one point during the 2018 season, Butler was ranked by NFLDraftScout as the sixth best senior wide receiver prospect in all of college football. He's since slipped down to a projected seventh round to free agent prospect by the website. Other than underclassmen declaring for the draft, it's hard to understand why Butler has isn't getting as much love.
Injuries could be it. He missed a majority of 2017 with an injury and was out for a couple games last year. But at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, Butler is the kind of receiver scouts drool over. He has a huge catch radius with good-enough speed to get separation. He's also dominated FBS opponents. There's a lot to love, especially if he's going to be a late-round pick.
Jimmy Moreland, James Madison CB
Moreland was a standout at the East-West Shrine Game, which earned him a spot on a Senior Bowl roster. He received tremendous reviews from those in the stands and South Carolina receiver Deebo Samuel said Moreland was the best CB he faced all week.
Still, Moreland did not receive an invite to the NFL Combine.
Maybe it's his size that gets questioned at 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds. But Moreland was as dominant as you can be at the cornerback position and possesses ball skills that are truly special. He's one of those players that FCS fans just know is going to be successful in the NFL. Right now, though, he's looked at as a seventh-rounder.
Joe Protheroe, Cal Poly FB
Fullbacks aren't exactly coveted positions when it comes to drafting players, but the position is far from dead. And Protheroe isn't just a thumper that can smash into a linebacker every play. He's an athletic freak that ran for 1,810 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2018.
He's got the speed, vision and size at 5-foot-11 and 230 pounds to be a short-yardage back as well, which he told HERO Sports he's willing to play whatever position a team wants him in. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. ranks him the fifth-best fullback available. That may or may not be good enough to get him drafted, but whatever team lands Protheroe is going to get a gem.
John Santiago, North Dakota RB
Santiago's stature (5-foot-9, 187 pounds) shouldn't be a red flag for scouts. He runs much bigger than that with a wicked stiff arm along with cutting ability and overall speed. He arrived at UND as a wide receiver before converting to running back. Santiago also was one of the top returners in the FCS.
That background should draw scouts in. Speed, explosion, hands and special teams ability. He's a player that can help a team in multiple ways as he earned multiple All-American all-purpose honors. At Santiago's Pro Day, he'll have a great chance to impress scouts on his marks, times and on-the-field drills.
Kurron Ramsey, Alabama State FS
Alabama State offensive lineman Tytus Howard is getting a ton of attention as an early to mid-round draft pick. But his teammate Ramsey is on radars as well. An incredible athlete, Ramsey is 6-foot-3 from his free safety spot and totaled 74 tackles in 2018.
Ramsey has tremendous range on the field and can lay the wood, which translates well to special teams at the next level. He's a guy that can find a spot on a final roster as a rookie. All Ramsey needs is one team to agree.