If you think NFL players only come out of the FBS, take two aspirin and check the draft lists. The highly respected site NFLDraftScout.com already says the FCS features several day two picks for the NFL Draft — in 2018. And there's always the potential for a player to drift into day one.
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In the 2017 NFL Draft, 15 FCS players were selected in the NFL Draft, and nearly 100 more were brought into training camps as free agents. There will be many opportunities for some of the elite 2018 FCS prospects — and there is still time to 'trend upwards' on this list for players like Richmond QB Kyle Lauletta, who has seen his stock rise the past few months.
So below, we give you the FCS' Top Five prospects, as of Feb. 27, with the rest of the projected draft picks and high end free agent predictions according to NFLDraftScout.com.
RELATED: When are the Pro Days in the FCS?
NOTE: Please note that several injured senior prospects in 2017 may end up in the 2019 draft class.
5. SKYLER PHILLIPS, OG – IDAHO STATE
Idaho State offensive guard Skyler Phillips (71) was injured last year and received a medical redshirt (ISU Athletics)[/credit]
2018 PROJECTION: No. 146 overall, 4th to 5th round projected
Phillips — who was invited to the Senior Bowl — was a fifth-year senior with loads of NFL potential, and he has proven to be quite versatile on the line also. Scouts love the fact that he could scoot over to the center position or play guard — and if you need him at left tackle, he's done that too. This is exactly what a pro staff is looking for when it is putting together a 53-man roster, and Phillips is a brawler on the line and a smart player.
4. NICK DELUCA, ILB – NORTH DAKOTA STATE
Nick DeLuca – 49 (Photo: Sam Herder)[/credit]
2018 PROJECTION: No. 141 overall, 4th round projected
2017 STATS: 74 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks
DeLuca seemed like he'd been a contributor at NDSU forever. He even played in 12 games in 2013 as a freshman and won a national title, and he finished his Bison career with 329 career tackles and 26 TFLs, as well as 7 INTs. A true gritty playmaker, he has turned the heads of scouts this year as he recovered from a 2016 season-ending injury that led him to receive a medical redshirt and come back this year. He is currently flying up the charts and was on display in the Senior Bowl.
3. DARIUS LEONARD, OLB, SOUTH CAROLINA STATE
South Carolina State's Darius Leonard is flying up the charts (SCSU Athletics)[/credit]
2018 PROJECTION: No. 112 overall, projected 3rd to 4th round
2017 STATS: 114 tackles, 12 TFLs, 8.5 sacks, 2 INTs, 10 hurries
2. BRANDON PARKER, OT – NORTH CAROLINA A&T
North Carolina A&T O-lineman Brandon Parker will be watched closely this spring (NC A&T Athletics)[/credit]
2018 PROJECTION: No. 91 overall, 3rd round projected
Parker — who was at the Senior Bowl — was one of the big reasons North Carolina A&T went undefeated and captured the Celebration Bowl in December. He is flying up the charts in recent weeks if not months. In just a few short months he has gone from being considered a late day three possibility to a solid day two pick and trending. This weekend could be another massive move forward for Parker.
1. DALLAS GOEDERT, TE – SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
South Dakota State Athletics[/credit]
2018 PROJECTION: No. 41 overall, Projected 2nd round
2017 STATS: Try 72 receptions for 1,111 yards and 7 TDs.
Goedert — who was at the Senior Bowl — may be 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, but he moves and catches the ball like a guy who is much, much smaller. That's what makes him an absolute lock for the NFL Draft this spring. While he was certainly productive as a sophomore in 2015, it was 2016 when he became a human highlight reel — catching one-handed passes and lighting up defenses with his pass catching partner in crime, Jake Wieneke.
FCS Projected 2018 NFL Draft Prospects
EDITOR'S NOTE: This chart includes seniors and one early entree underclassman from FCS schools (Maea Teuhema). NFLDraftScout does rank underclassmen as part of their projections, now that we are in the new year. 7th-FA = Projected 7th rounder to Priority NFL Free Agent.
Also: If you see "UP" next to a player's rank, it means he is trending upwards in the eyes of NFLDraftScout.
As mentioned on page one, the "PROJ. ROUND" is based where NFLDraftScout.com has placed them as of Feb 28, 2018.
|Dallas Goedert||South Dakota State||TE||41||2nd|
|Brandon Parker||North Carolina A&T||OT||91||3rd|
|Darius Leonard||South Carolina State||OLB||112||3rd to 4th|
|Nick DeLuca||North Dakota State||ILB||141||4th|
|Skyler Phillips||Idaho State||OG||146||4th to 5th|
|Siran Neal||Jacksonville State||SS||164||4th to 5th|
|Jake Wieneke||South Dakota State||WR||194||5th to 6th|
|Daurice Fountain||Northern Iowa||WR||201||5th to 6th|
|P. J. Hall||Sam Houston State||DT||205||6th|
|Taron Johnson||Weber State||CB||206||6th|
|Roc Thomas||Jacksonville State||RB||210||6th|
|Darius Jackson||Jacksonville State||OLB||215||6th|
|Bilal Nichols||Delaware||DT||222||6th to 7th|
|Timon Parris||Stony Brook||OG||235||6th to 7th|
|Chase Edmonds||Fordham||RB||263||7th to FA|
|Cole Reyes||North Dakota||SS||264||7th to FA|
|Joseph Zema||Incarnate Word||P||270||7th to FA|
|Greg Senat||Wagner||OT||275||7th to FA|
|Andrew Ankrah||James Madison||DE||286||7th to FA|
|Davontae Harris||Illinois State||CB||297||7th to FA|
|Maea Teuhema||SE Louisiana||OG||304||7th to FA|
|Ebenezer Ogundeko||Tennessee State||DE||306||7th to FA|
|John Franklin||Stephen F. Austin||DE||331||7th to FA|
|Matthew Oplinger||Yale||OLB||337||7th to FA|
|Mike Basile||Monmouth (N.J.)||FS||340||7th to FA|
|Donovan Olumba||Portland State||CB||344||7th to FA|
On The Cusp
NOTE: These FCS prospects are shown right outside of the "7th round to FA" description above (for Top 350 prospects), but right on the cusp of bumping up — especially with a good pro day (coming up). They are considered absolute locks to secure free agent contracts if they do not get drafted.
|Jeremiah Briscoe||Sam Houston State||QB||351||FA|
|Brett Taylor||Western Illinois||ILB||399||FA|
|Aaron Stinnie||James Madison||OT||406||FA|
|Austin Kuhnert||North Dakota State||OG||422||FA|
|Lane Clark||Tennessee State||K||444||FA|
|Sione Teuhema||SE Louisiana||DE||452||FA|
|Tre Dempsey||North Dakota State||CB||458||FA|
|Tremon Smith||Central Arkansas||CB||505||FA|