They might have invented the phrase “He’s just a football player” for the ones who don’t necessarily wow people at events like the NFL Scouting Combine.
Yes, some players perform better on game day than on pro day.
But measurables matter with NFL teams, so the 19 former FCS players who participated at the recent Combine desperately wanted to turn heads. They’re already battling the stigma of being “small school” prospects.
Heading toward the draft, which will be held April 27-29 in Philadelphia, here are some FCS players who raised or lowered their stock at the Combine.
Derek Rivers, Youngstown State, DE, 6-4, 248
Rivers put himself in the conversation with Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp to be the top selection from the FCS. He earned high marks in four different drills, ranking third at his position with a 6.94-second run in the 3-cone drill, fourth with a 4.61 clocking in the 40-yard dash, tying for fourth with 30 reps in the 225-pound bench press and tying for fifth with a 35-inch vertical jump. The athletic edge rusher has experience as an outside linebacker and could convert there on the next level.
Brendan Langley, Lamar, CB, 6-0, 201
His speed was on display in the 40 – a 4.43 clocking, which tied for eighth best at his position – but Langley’s 22 reps on the bench press led all cornerbacks (and resembled an offensive lineman), which emphasized his strength and good size for press coverage and wrapping up ball carriers. He will make contributions as a kickoff returner in addition to playing corner.
Corey Levin, Chattanooga, OG, 6-4, 307
Levin’s low center of gravity makes him a natural fit for the interior of the line, and his hands measured an impressive 10 7/8 inches, which will compensate for a small arm length (33 7/8). He was solid across the board in his Combine drills, including the 40 (5.16), bench press (26), broad jump (8 feet, 10 inches), 3-cone drill (7.55) and 20-yard shuttle (4.73). He appears to have solidified himself as a late-round selection.
Keionta Davis, Chattanooga, DE, 6-3, 271
Unlike Levin, Chattanooga’s other big prospect didn’t participate in any of the workout drills, which suggested he wasn’t 100 percent health-wise. That makes the Mocs’ Pro Day on March 30 extremely important for Davis. He was a beast for FCS opponents and had strong games against FBS competition, but he’s not considered highly athletic for an edge rusher.
Lorenzo Jerome, Saint Francis, S, 5-10, 204
Coming off terrific postseason performances at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and Reese’s Senior Bowl, there was growing buzz surrounding Jerome. But with him lacking in height, NFL personnel wanted to see Jerome post a solid time in the 40, and he didn’t while running in 4.73 seconds and his official 4.70 mark. He’ll seek to lower the slow time at Saint Francis’ Pro Day on March 16. The Red Flash haven’t have an NFL Draft pick since 1945.
Jerry Ugokwe, William & Mary, OT, 6-7, 321
Ugokwe (ew-GO-kway) has NFL size and length, including 35 3/8-inch arms and 10 3/8-inch hands, but he didn’t distinguish himself during the Combine drills, and he might have slid out of the later rounds to a priority free agent grade. His results: 40 (5.61), bench press (18), vertical jump (26), broad jump (8-7), 3-cone drill (8.35) and 20-yard shuttle (5.17).
— Written by Craig Haley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Haley has covered the FCS level since 1999 and is the national writer for www.fcs.football. He appears frequently on radio shows and podcasts to discuss everything FCS. Follow him on Twitter @CraigHaley.