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.
[divider]MORE: Compare Any Two FCS Players or Any Two FCS Teams[divider]
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 will surely see his stock rise over the next several months.
According to NFLDraftScout.com, the service we use to put the FCS prospects in order, the following players are trending upwards rapidly: South Dakota State's Dallas Goedert, Weber State's Taron Johnson, North Carolina A&T's Brandon Parker, Jacksonville State's Darius Jackson and Siran Neal, Lauletta (mentioned above) and James Madison's Andrew Ankrah.
So below, we give you the FCS' Top Five prospects, as of Jan. 15, with the rest of the projected draft picks according to NFLDraftScout.com.
NOTE: Please note that several injured senior prospects in 2017 may end up in the 2019 draft class.
5. SIRAN NEAL, SS – JACKSONVILLE STATE
Jacksonville State SS Siran Neal is flying up the charts (JSU Athletics)[/credit]
2018 PROJECTION: No. 6 strong safety for 2018 (early entree), No. 138 overall, projected 4th round
2017 STATS: 39 tackles, 11 passes broken up, 1 INT
4. 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. 8 offensive guard, No. 137 overall, 4th round projected
Phillips — who has accepted an invite to the Senior Bowl — is 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.
3. NICK DELUCA, ILB – NORTH DAKOTA STATE
Nick DeLuca – 49 (Photo: Sam Herder)[/credit]
2018 PROJECTION: No. 4 inside linebacker, No. 134 overall, 4th round projected
2017 STATS: 74 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks
DeLuca seems like he's 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 will be on display in the Senior Bowl.
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. 8 offensive tackle, No. 79 overall, 2nd to 3rd round projected
Parker — who has accepted an invite to 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. Next week could see even more growth for this electrical engineering major.
1. DALLAS GOEDERT, TE – SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
South Dakota State Athletics[/credit]
2018 PROJECTION: No. 2 TE, No. 66 overall, Projected 2nd to 3rd round
2017 STATS: Try 72 receptions for 1,111 yards and 7 TDs.
Goedert — who has accepted an invitation to 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 next spring. While he was certainly productive as a sophomore in 2015, this past year he became a human highlight reel — catching one-handed passes and lighting up defenses with his pass catching partner in crime, Jake Wieneke.
Other 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. FA = Projected NFL Free Agent.