In this most unusual upcoming draft year, nothing is for certain. Thanks to COVID-19 and a ruling by the NCAA, players could opt to come back for another season (fall 2021) even if they play this spring. Nobody’s eligibility will be affected by this pandemic year.
So, our Top 10 FCS prospect chart — in which we consult our subscription to DraftScout.com‘s database — could change quite a bit by the time the 2021 NFL Draft rolls around. But we are ranking it based on the “class” as it stands now, along with obvious underclassmen who have expressed their desire to take a shot at the draft.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Some of the players listed below have entered the transfer portal, but unless they’ve already selected their next school, they’re listed with the FCS school they played for in 2019.
NO. 1: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
PROJECTED ROUND: 1st
DRAFTSCOUT TOP 750: No. 12
THE SCOOP: Lance only started one full season in college, yet that’s all it took to shoot up the charts. His quarterback savvy, his wheels, his arm, his leadership skills … it all has led him to be a projected first-round draft pick. Even though he could have played two more years at NDSU, he has opted to enter this spring’s draft — and he will undoubtedly be the FCS’ No. 1 pick this cycle.
NO. 2: Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
PROJECTED ROUND: 2nd
DRAFTSCOUT TOP 750: No. 52
THE SCOOP: Radunz wrapped his NDSU career making his 32nd consecutive start at left tackle. He announced he would not play spring football, and also invited to come to the 2021 Senior Bowl. For years, he’s been considered the top lineman in the FCS.
NO. 3: Robert Rochell, CB, Central Arkansas
PROJECTED ROUND: 3rd
DRAFTSCOUT TOP 750: No. 100
THE SCOOP: One of many talented skill-position studs who plays for Central Arkansas, Rochell has 10 career interceptions for the Bears. The 6-foot-2 cornerback declared for the NFL Draft this fall and also has received an invite to the Senior Bowl.
NO. 4: Spencer Brown, OT, Northern Iowa
PROJECTED ROUND: 4th
DRAFTSCOUT TOP 750: No. 135
THE SCOOP: At 6-foot-9, 320-pounds, Spencer is an intriguing talent. The right tackle originally showed up on campus weighing less than 240 pounds. His invite to the Senior Bowl came this fall.
NO. 5: Bryan Mills, CB, North Carolina Central
PROJECTED ROUND: 5th-to-6th
DRAFTSCOUT TOP 750: No. 192
THE SCOOP: Mills, who has accepted an invite to the Senior Bowl, has come a long way since his junior college days at College of the Canyons in 2018. In one season with N.C. Central, he had 5 interceptions and 13 passes defensed in 12 games.
THE NEXT FIVE
No. 6 – Christian Uphoff, FS, Illinois State (5th to 6th round)
No. 7 – Elerson Smith, DE, Northern Iowa (7th to HPFA)
No. 8 – David Moore, OG, Grambling State (7th to HPFA)
No. 9 – Drew Himmelman, OT, Illinois State (7th to HPFA)
No. 10 – Cade Johnson, WR, South Dakota State (7th to HPFA)
NOTE- HPFA = High Priority Free Agent, which means they may not be projected to be drafted at this time in the cycle, but they’ll likely be signed within a few hours of the draft’s conclusion.
IN THE MIX
The next group of players who are viewed as NFL prospects.
I began covering the FCS for HERO Sports in the Summer of 2015 and it was love at first sight. It was the perfect blend of two previous career stops -- the approachability and grounded nature of being around high school athletics combined with the high-end talent and impressive fan bases of big-time college football. After stops in the newspaper world and The Sporting News and PARADE Magazine, I'm happy to be here as HERO Sports' FCS Coordinator.