Advertisement

2018 NFL Draft: Top non-FBS prospects in upcoming class

By The Sports Xchange
Dallas Goedert (86), a three-year starter at South Dakota State, thrived in the Jackrabbits' spread offense, splitting his time in-line and detached, and he was a mismatch versus many defenses he faced in the Missouri Valley Conference. Photo courtesy of South Dakota State Football/Twitter
Dallas Goedert (86), a three-year starter at South Dakota State, thrived in the Jackrabbits' spread offense, splitting his time in-line and detached, and he was a mismatch versus many defenses he faced in the Missouri Valley Conference. Photo courtesy of South Dakota State Football/Twitter

Alabama. Ohio State. Oklahoma. The usual football factories, fueled by players who have performed on the biggest stages, will once again populate the first round of the NFL Draft.

And then there are the guys you probably have never seen play.

Advertisement

Small-school stars, the ones who didn't play in Power 5 conferences or even in the nether regions of the Football Bowl Subdivision, will also make their mark in the 2018 draft.

NFLDraftScout.com rates 11 players from the Football Championship Subdivision and below among the top 200 prospects in the draft. At least a few likely players will be Day 2 selections, taken well ahead of popular names from the biggest schools.

RELATED NFL narrows future 2019, 2020 Draft host cities to five

Here is a look at the top non-FBS prospects heading into the NFL Combine, to be held from Feb. 27 to March 5 in Indianapolis, with comments from NFLDraftScout.com senior analysts Rob Rang and Dane Brugler:

Advertisement

Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State (No. 41 overall) -- Goedert, a three-year starter at South Dakota State, thrived in the Jackrabbits' spread offense, splitting his time in-line and detached, and he was a mismatch vs. every defense he faced in the Missouri Valley Conference. Goedert is a big, physical athlete with the body control and footwork of a much smaller player. Despite all of his experience having been at the FCS level, Goedert has the physical skill-set, dependable ball skills and motivated make-up to develop into a starting NFL tight end. He has Pro Bowls in his future.

RELATED 2018 NFL mock draft: Top QB crop since famed 1983 class?

Brandon Parker, OT, North Carolina A&T (No. 91) -- Measuring in with prototypical size, including 35 3/8-inch arms and an 85 1/4-inch wingspan, Parker was one of the big winners at the Senior Bowl weigh-in. His performance in Mobile, Ala., against elite competition only turned more heads as the week went on. Parker starred at left tackle for North Carolina A&T, but the majority of his snaps came at right tackle at the Senior Bowl.

Nathan Shepherd, DT, Fort Hays State (No. 92) -- He has a grown-man build and was physically superior to his Division II opponents, helping to lead Fort Hays State to an undefeated 2017 regular season. He stood out immediately at the Senior Bowl with his nimble lower body and powerful upper body before breaking his hand during the second practice. Shepherd might require a "redshirt" NFL season, which isn't ideal for a player who turns 25 years old as a rookie, but his exciting traits are promising for a patient coaching staff.

Advertisement

Darius Leonard, OLB, South Carolina State (No. 112) -- Leonard, who spent most of his career at weakside linebacker in a 4-2-5 base scheme, flows well and was routinely in the right place at the right time on tape. He wins more with hustle than know-how at this point in his career, competing with the athletic range that fits today's game.

RELATED 2018 NFL Draft: OL prospect Will Richardson explains suspension

Alex Cappa, OT, Humboldt State (No. 116) -- Cappa was a man among boys in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, and then he stood his ground at the Senior Bowl. As expected for a Division II blocker, Cappa had some technical and pad-level issues vs. the top pass rushers in Mobile. But just like his tape, his aggressive nature helped compensate for his mechanical flaws. Cappa didn't look out of place against top competition.

Nick DeLuca, ILB, North Dakota State (No. 141) -- He projects as a potential three-down MIKE linebacker in a 4-3 base defense. Although DeLuca is a smart, assignment-sound defender with NFL-level intangibles, his limited athleticism presents challenges.

Skyler Phillips, G, Idaho State (No. 146) -- Phillips is an NFL-caliber athlete, but, at 6-foot-2, he is far too short for tackle and might be too short for some teams at guard. He does have some starting experience at center. He helped himself at the Senior Bowl, where he was able to focus on playing guard.

Advertisement

Siran Neal, Jacksonville State, DB (No. 164) -- His NFL future will greatly depend on scheme, but he produced college tape that showed raw skill at outside cornerback and box safety. Neal is an intriguing possibility for press-heavy teams, but his strengths in the secondary are better suited for a nickel safety.

Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond (No. 171) -- He won't wow with his physical tools -- including middling arm strength -- but his tape shows an efficient passer who is quick to scan and understands timing and placement. He is tough and intelligent with the mature make-up to handle quarterback responsibilities in the NFL.

Michael Joseph, CB, Dubuque (No. 189) -- Joseph was the only Division III player invited to the Senior Bowl, and he'll become an even more intriguing prospect if he lights up stopwatches at the Combine.

Others to watch:

--Jake Wieneke, WR South Dakota State (No. 194)

--Daurice Fountain, WR, Northern Iowa (No. 201)

--Colby Gossett, OG, Appalachian State (No. 203)

--P.J. Hall, DT, Sam Houston State (No. 205)

--Taron Johnson, CB, Weber State (No. 206)

Advertisement

--Roc Thomas, RB, Jacksonville State (No. 210)

--Desmond Harrison, OT, West Georgia (No. 211)

--Jamil Demby, OG, Maine (No. 212)

--Darius Jackson, OLB, Jacksonville State (No. 215)

Latest Headlines

Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement