Saturday marked the beginning of the on-field work for the NFL Combine, with quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight end prospects all running, jumping and lifting to prove their athleticism. The FCS had 5 prospects in the mix.
[divider]MORE: Compare Any Two FCS Players or Any Two FCS Teams[divider]
While Darius Leonard of South Carolina State clearly came into day three of the NFL Combine with the most FCS hype, it was Stephen F. Austin defensive lineman John Franklin who left with the best FCS specs of the day. Franklin ran the fifth fastest 40-yard dash for a defensive lineman at 4.75, hit the 26-reps mark in the bench press, and went on to post Top 10 marks in the vertical jump (7th) and the 20-yard shuttle run (8th).
MCLAUGHLIN: What round is Franklin projected to be taken?
"Today went good, I have been training hard and I’m glad to see it has paid off," Franklin told HERO Sports via phone right after he wrapped a solid NFL Combine. "I have a lot to work on as far as speed and explosiveness to elevate my game so that’s what I will be doing the next couple of months. It is exciting getting that opportunity to represent SFA and my family. I am forever grateful for that, and can’t wait to see what the future holds."
Coming into the NFL Combine, Franklin had been seen as a possible day three guy in April's NFL Draft, but it remains to be seen how much he may bump up his draft stock based on Sunday's showing. He'll have chance to show out on March 27 at Stephen F. Austin's on-campus pro day.
South Carolina State linebacker Darius Leonard
Speaking of Leonard above, he certainly didn't hurt himself with his 40-yard dash time of 4.7 seconds, which placed him 9th among all linebackers. He also had a decent bench press lift but wasn't in the top 20 finishers in that category. Draft services vary on where Leonard will fit in, but he's been seen as high as a second-round pick by some down to a 5th-round pick — but nobody has him outside of the draft.
Not too shabby for the outside linebacker who will follow in recent teammate Javon Hargrave's footsteps going from S.C. State to the NFL. A former Clemson walk-on who switched schools when he didn't get a Tigers' offer, Leonard is S.C. State's all-time leading tackler and is expected to do his Pro Day in Columbia, S.C. with the University of South Carolina on March 20.
Each of the other three FCS prospects had their bright spots. North Dakota State LB Nick DeLuca may not be the speed demon some of the others are, but he showed quickness in the 3-cone drill and the 20-yard shuttle, and he's always going to impress the scouts with his work on film as a pure instinctive football player.
Delaware DT Bilal Nichols was strong with 29 reps on the bench and a 4.95 in the 40-yard dash — a solid time for a big man up front. Jacksonville State LB Darius Jackson is known for his ability to harass opposing quarterbacks, and he also had solid if not spectacular marks in several measureables.