By Rebecca Rennie

Another week, and another wide receiver to profile from this deep FCS class at the position. We also quickly return to the Ivy League for the second week in a row to highlight another offensive playmaker to know. Firstly though, we begin with an exciting versatile defender from a currently winless school.

In the Players to Watch section, a big-bodied offensive lineman could be key in a ranked matchup that will be impact the playoff race. A toolsy linebacker transfer from the Power Five rounds out this week’s prospects to know for the 2023 NFL Draft!


Photo Credit: Wagner College Athletics

The start to the season has been difficult for the Wagner Seahawks. Entering last Saturday’s matchup with Merrimack, the NEC team had struggled to an 0-5 record. They put up a spirited fight against the Warriors however, taking a 14-12 half time lead, before eventually falling 17-54. There is talent on the team however, primarily with a legitimate pro prospect in edge defender Titus Leo. His work in the first half contributed to the early success through two quarters. It’s important to note though that Leo suffered an injury late in the third quarter, potentially relating to his pec or shoulder. It was difficult to find any update on his current status at the time of writing, unfortunately.

Leo follows in the footsteps of current NFL talent in Wagner alum Cam Gill, with some similar positive traits to the former Seahawk. With a toned and muscular build, the senior appears a well-rounded athlete with effective quickness and applicable strength. There is good use of arm extension, leverage and stoutness to impact the point of attack and disengage. His agility and flexibility aids him in space and laterally, as well as working underneath blockers and shortening angles into the backfield.

The energetic edge defender showed up from the first snap against Merrimack’s offense. Driving the inside shoulder of the right tackle and outmuscling the right guard, Leo exploded into the backfield. Meeting the running back behind the line of scrimmage, he succeeded in dragging the ball carrier down for a 3-yard tackle for loss. Later in the first quarter, Leo added a sack, this time attacking the left tackle. With impressive reactions off the snap and initial burst, a simple deflection with his hands dismissed the block attempt. The speed rush got home, closing fast of the QB and wrapping up well for the sack.

Moving around the formation in different alignments is a feature of Leo’s usage and skillset. In addition to working the left and right sides from 2- and 3-point stances, he can pressure up the middle also. Early in the second quarter, the Seahawks standout stood up over the center for three consecutive snaps. Though he didn’t finish the plays, he created pressure each time as the Wagner defense forced a 4th-&-20 punting situation.

In addition to the pass rush, his impact against the run was on full display. Later in Q2 on a 3rd-&-5, Leo worked with the offensive line flow into position to get first contact on the runner to end the drive. Multiple examples showcased his burst and range to chase to the sidelines for stops outside the numbers. Against both O-linemen and tight ends, Leo was able to stack-and-shed blocks for additional run stops. The active defensive playmaker was consistently around the football as he compiled 7 tackles on the day.

His work at the point of attack includes ideal upper and lower body coordination. The stout base and pad level compliment the effective hand placement and rush technique. A former ball-hawking safety in high school, it’s no surprise that he looks the part in space, despite his added bulk for playing on the front seven. Hopefully, Leo’s injury sustained against Merrimack won’t prove significant. If not, the Wagner edge defender personally feels like one of the more under-rated small school prospects for the 2023 NFL draft.


Photo Credit: Aaron Bota / UIW Athletics

Back in Week 4, the Cardinals ended up on the wrong side of one of the most dramatic contests of the FCS season so far. The last-second 41-35 loss to rivals Southeastern Louisiana may ultimately prove crucial at the top of the Southland. Their conference foes recently falling to Texas A&M Commerce has reopened that door, however. Either way, UIW have returned to action in excellent form since that defeat. Throughout, star receiver Taylor Grimes has been incredibly productive as part of the trio of victories. The Illinois State transfer is building on his outstanding 2021 season that included 1,145 yards on 87 receptions, with 17 total touchdowns.

The 48-21 victory over McNeese saw Grimes contribute 3 touchdowns and 115 yards on 8 receptions. The performance showcased his diverse route running abilities, executing on go routes, slants, pivots, and short screens. His second touchdown was particularly spectacular, laying out at full stretch in the back of the end zone for a high difficulty 33-yard deep ball TD catch. Two more scores followed against Lamar the next week in the 56-17 win. Most recently against Nicholls last weekend, Grimes continued his sensational form as the Cardinals comfortably won 49-14. The active receiver claimed 9 receptions for 102 yards and another 2 touchdown catches.

It felt watching the game that every catch by Grimes went for either a first down or touchdown. Indeed, in checking the play-by-play afterwards, all but one reception moved the chains or added to the scoreboard. On the opening drive, the senior receiver showcased some of his most translatable skills. Taking a screen pass, his quick feet, run-after-catch ability, contact balance and toughness to take hits led to an 18-yard gain. His route execution included setting up defenders, doing so with a stutter-step and timed release on his opening touchdown catch. In the third quarter, Grimes collected the ball on a short curl route before breaking a tackle into the end zone.

Despite his smaller frame, it stands out how effective Grimes proved to be in the red zone. He may lack a wide catch radius, but consistently succeeds in condensed areas. The Incarnate Word playmaker leads the FCS with 10 touchdown receptions in just seven games. What frequently stands out in his game film is the spatial and positional awareness. Grimes knows how to find open areas between zones for easy conversions. The short area quickness and downfield acceleration allow him to separate to all levels of the field. While not possessing elite measurables, there’s a polish to his play that can work at the next level.


Photo Credit: Howard University Athletics

The Ivy League feature one of the better 2023 NFL Draft prospects from the FCS in Princeton wide receiver Andrei Iosivas, discussed here last week. There are others from the conference who are impressing also, including Harvard running back Aidan Borguet. The senior back is having a dominant season to this point. Through five games, the Crimson runner has piled up 620 rush yards at 6 yards per rush. That has included over 100 yards in all but one game and a high of 163 versus Cornell. He’s added 7 rushing scores with at least one in each contest, and a receiving TD.

Another impactful outing helped lead Harvard to a 41-25 win over Howard most recently. His 22 carries went for 119 yards (5.4 average) and a touchdown. The standout run on the Crimson’s second drive emphasized some of his best qualities. Working to his right, Borguet cut north cleanly that would have constituted a successful run in itself. He followed that with an instinctive second reaction cut to make a closing defender whiff. Running into the open space, he added several additional yards while driving and falling forward as two Bison defenders worked to finally bring him down. The 17-yard run showcased his excellent vision and reactive processing speed.

Borguet consistently executes with patience to set up his blockers and hit holes with timing. The polished footwork and effective jump cuts combine with short-area quickness and enough burst to exploit openings. The positional IQ is apparent and applies to his decision making, adjustments to how the defense unfolds post-snap and his work in tandem with his blockers. Late in the first quarter, that patience and timing was again obvious on a 15-yard chunk run. The contact balance and toughness to take hits add to the positives in his game.

One of the more prominent questions is Borguet’s relatively underwhelming usage in the passing game. Over 25 career games, the Crimson prospect has nine receptions to his name. If more opportunities through the air do not materialize, he hopefully will be able to demonstrate more in over the pre-draft schedule instead. He successfully collected his lone target versus Howard after a simple release to the left flat, taking it for 14 yards. As a pass protector on a first quarter QB hit, Borguet missed an opportunity to contribute with a pickup. Afterward however, he was solid the rest of the contest in picking up free rushers. The 211 lb back squared up well and provided a viable obstacle on a number of effective blocks.

As Harvard expanded their lead, Borguet’s role reduced during the second half. He still ground out some tough yards on short gains during his opportunities. After a blocked punt set up a short field in Q3, the physical back punched in the 1-yard TD run. With a good build on his shorter frame and enough athleticism, Borguet backs it up with a tough run style. His pad level, balance and excellent footwork are key aspects of refined technique. After a couple strong seasons but with limited usage, he’s having a breakout final season. Set to smash his previous season totals, he is already only 25 yards from setting a new season’s best. The Ivy League standout is developing into a very interesting draft prospect.



Photo Credit: Chattanooga Athletics

In one of the better matchups of the weekend, #10 ranked Chattanooga take on #11 Mercer. The team that wins take the inside track for the Southern Conference. The SoCon has some strength in depth this season, however, so there will be plenty to play for throughout the remaining games. The Mercer Bears feature one of the better defenses in FCS this year, including proving fairly tight against the run. That sets up an interesting opportunity for Mocs offensive lineman McClendon Curtis to make an impact.

The 6’6, 328 lb prospect has seen time at multiple spots, primarily lining up at right guard and left tackle. Last outing against VMI, Curtis continued at LT in an impressive showing. Comfortable in pass protection through much of the win, he added several dominating pancake blocks in the run game. From watching the past two seasons, it appears that Curtis is moving with more quickness in 2022. That is a positive development to his draft projection. The senior did concede a TFL late in the game, seeming to misjudge a quick inside move to allow the loss. With the game in hand at 38-13, if it was a slight drop in focus, it doesn’t cloud an otherwise solid performance overall.

Currently, Curtis can be a bit streaky with his technical execution. Hand placement is the most notable element that can be inconsistently applied. With his impressive wingspan and powerful frame, he is at his best when able to maximize that arm extension with an accurate initial punch. At other times, his positive traits can be somewhat negated by the hand location, occasionally slipping off block attempts. Most of the time, Curtis proves to be a wall with the broad frame and length to shut down pass rushes. The Mocs lineman is one to check out this weekend in what should be an exciting SoCon contest between Chattanooga and Mercer.


Photo Credit: Jacksonville State Athletics

In terms of high school profile, few in the FCS entered college with as much projected potential as Benton. That did not result in choosing Jacksonville State initially, with the former 4-star starting out at Alabama. Through three seasons with the Tide, he didn’t see a great deal of playing time. As a transfer, the local prospect stayed in State with the Gamecocks. Now in his sixth collegiate year, Benton is putting together a solid statistical season for JSU. Through 7 games, he has compiled 45 tackles, including 4 for loss with 2.5 sacks.

Benton and the Gamecocks will take on an offensively productive Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday. The Lions have put up over 40 points in three out of four FCS games so far this season. Benton’s physical traits with size and athleticism could apply well in this contest. The toned frame and length combine with good range and closing speed. The results see the senior linebacker often active around the ball. His quickness aids him in recovery and in pursuit to the sidelines. That recovery quickness can be necessary, as his reading of the game can be an inconsistent area of his play.

Currently, there are a few too many examples of pre-snap guessing and false steps. That can lead to being out of ideal position to execute against the run. Resultingly getting lost in traffic or forced into bad angles can negatively impact his influence. He tends to be more reactive than pre-emptive and anticipatory. Elsewhere, Benton’s footwork and lower body technique can improve, which currently are not always conducive to working leverage and shedding blocks at the point of attack. There are good physical tools to potentially work with. The athleticism could project to initially contributing on special teams as the overall game develops. This weekend’s contest against SE Louisiana is an excellent opportunity to flash more of the upside on offer.

Feature Image Credit: Wagner College Athletics.

Rebecca Rennie

rebecca rennie


Rebecca is an NFL Draft analyst focusing primarily on the FCS and Group of Five conferences, and a fan of both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Stanford Cardinal. You can find her other articles here and follow on Twitter @bex_r86.