Football fans, it’s time for the 2021 FCS spring season. The FCS is the second tier of Division I collegiate football, which normally occurs in the fall. While the Power 5 forged ahead in the fall during the pandemic, the FCS decided to wait until the spring — where most of its teams will now participate in an eight-game season that will culminate in a 16-team playoff.
Just because the FCS plays second fiddle to the FBS, it isn’t short of producing NFL-caliber players. Some FCS players you may have heard of: Carson Wentz, Jimmy Garoppolo, Darius Leonard, and James Robinson. In fact, the FCS routinely produces NFL players — all 32 NFL teams this season had at least one FCS player, and there were 119 FCS players in the latest NFL playoffs. The two most prominent prospects from the FCS are Trey Lance and Dillon Radunz — who will surely be first-round selections — but decided to opt-out of the spring season to prepare for the draft. So, this list of prospects is strictly made of those prospects participating in the FCS spring season — excluding transfers and opt-outs.
This will be an unprecedented process of watching draftable prospects play while the draft is happening. This is possible because those FCS players taking part in the season can still declare for the upcoming draft if they don’t sign with an agent.
Robert Rochell, CB, Central Arkansas
This is one of my favorite sleepers. One of many talented skill-position players from Central Arkansas; Rochell has 10 career interceptions for the Bears. He’s very sudden with his change of direction and leverages his fluidity well in man coverage. Though he struggled at the Senior Bowl, Rochell has good length and possesses long legs with excellent overall athletic ability — quick to close, light on his feet, fluid hips at the line of scrimmage and in space. Rochell could offer great value in the third or fourth round.
Spencer Brown, OT, Northern Iowa
Brown is a massive 6-foot-9, 322-pound offensive tackle prospect with 35-inch arms and the athleticism of a big tight end. While he’s a tall prospect, Brown has shown flexibility and bend to match up against speed rushers — showcasing his agility, foot quickness to mirror, and great body control. His explosiveness from his stance and athleticism as a former tight end makes him a good fit for any zone-heavy scheme. Look for Brown to go as early as the second round or as late as the fourth and fifth rounds, depending on how teams are valuing this loaded tackle class.
Bryan Mills, CB, North Carolina Central
Mills is a tall, long, explosive athlete, who has displayed solid speed, and good change of direction skills, lateral agility, and burst to close width. Mills isn’t a refined technician at the line of scrimmage or up the stem of routes — mainly due to his superior ability compared to his competition. The tools are there to build on, and for that, Mills could get drafted on day three of the draft.
Elerson Smith, EDGE, Northern Iowa
Smith is a tall, long edger rusher that, at the very least, looks the part of an NFL EDGE — 6’6″, 83″ wingspan. He typically aligned as a defensive end in Northern Iowa’s 4-man front, where he played both 7 and 9-techniques. But he also kicked inside to the 5 or 4i-technique in sub-packages — able to rush the passer from a two or three-point stance. He’s such an explosive, high-motor athlete that he offers at the very least solid competition and maximum effort. His traits will make it hard for teams to let him slide past the fifth or sixth round.
Photographer: Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire