REBECCA RENNIE SMALL SCHOOL MOCK DRAFT
As an alternative to the standard mock draft, what might happen if the only eligible and available options were small school prospects? It’s not a situation that would ever occur, but is an interesting way to continue The Touchdown’s featuring of talented prospects outside the FBS.
In this situation, off-season team building is limited to free agency and drafting players from the FCS level and below. Paragraphs are brief, but click on the player names to linked articles to learn more about many of the prospects.
There’s 3 or 4 clear stand out small school talents that would almost certainly be the top picks in some order, regardless of need. Outside of that, it’s up to preferences and some likely varied rankings.
The Touchdown will have a Small School Big Board released shortly after the Combine. Those rankings factor into many of the decisions made below. This is just for a bit of fun and much more about continuing to feature these under-the-radar prospects!
1. Cincinnati Bengals: Ben Bartch, OL, Saint John’s (MN)
In this scenario, there is no FCS quarterback value to fill the mock draft shoes of Joe Burrow. The Bengals would land a free agent QB and find draft value elsewhere from the available talent. The offensive line remains an area in need of further additions and a premium position to target.
2. Washington Redskins: Adam Trautman, TE, Dayton
With the release of Jordan Reed and retirement of Vernon Davis, tight end is a big need. While in a regular draft the position is unlikely to be targeted this early, Trautman is one of the few small school standouts. Adding more talent around Dwayne Haskins should be a goal this off-season.
In an open competition, Trautman has the potential to be the top player at his position in this class. There’s rawness in his game but the physical and athletic traits to excite. Trautman is another who raised his stock at the Senior Bowl.
3. Detroit Lions: Kyle Dugger, S, Lenior-Rhyne
The Lions can be happy in this scenario, with potentially the best small school player landing to them at pick three. Dugger’s film is very inconsistent but is a dynamic, versatile playmaker with upside through the roof.
A spot in the actual first round in April is not outside the realms of possibility. Detroit needs upgrades to the back seven, and Dugger can impact the game on multiple levels.
4. New York Giants: Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois
The Giants have bigger needs, particularly on the offensive line. While Alex Taylor is a consideration here, he’s a significant developmental prospect with a low floor. Gettleman may not have the time to see that project though.
Jeremy Chinn is by far the top prospect left and the last of the top tier small school talents. Chinn has impressive size, solid range, good instincts and ball skills. Antoine Bethea is 35 years old and the jury remains out on Jabrill Peppers.
5. Miami Dolphins: Alex Taylor, OT, South Carolina State
As referenced above, Taylor is a project. The rebuilding Dolphins may have more time to be patient and develop the toolsy lineman. There’s no question that he has a high ceiling. A strong Combine could help him land on Day 2 of the draft, despite the variability in his projection.
Taylor needs to add bulk, particularly to his base, while his technique is rough. The length, movement and athleticism are intriguing, however.
6. Los Angeles Chargers: Kyle Murphy, IOL, Rhode Island
Injuries factored into the struggles, but even with those players returning, an addition or two to the O-line seems likely this off-season. Murphy played left tackle in college, but his frame is a better fit inside. Adding more strength will be necessary, with his anchor an area of concern currently. Murphy is an outstanding pass protector however, with fantastic balance and control.
7. Carolina Panthers: RonDell Carter, EDGE/DL, James Madison
Brian Burns flashed his potential as a rookie, but the defensive line is an area to target in the draft, both inside and outside for new DC Phil Snow. Carter has the versatility to line up at multiple spots along the defensive line with length, power and quickness.
The Rutgers transfer is aggressive, polished as a pass rusher and stout versus the run. His monster season included 66 tackles, 27 TFLs, 12 sacks and 13 QB hurries.
8. Arizona Cardinals: Auzoyah Alufohai, DL, West Georgia
Wide receiver is a popular position to mock to the Cardinals. They have a major need at defensive tackle that is arguably more pressing. Alufohai has technical improvements to make but has unquestioned NFL size and power.
The 6’4”, 327lb defensive lineman is often able to dominate the overmatched opposition on film while flashing good hand use to disengage. The Kennesaw State transfer’s power was again on show during East-West Shrine practices.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars: Mason Kinsey, WR, Berry
The Jags are another team regularly mocked receiver without it being a drastic need for their top selection. Here though, Kinsey is the top prospect left on the draft board. Any of the secondary prospects would be a reach at this point.
Kinsey felt like one of the bigger Combine snubs after owning FBS corners throughout Shrine week. He’s polished and sharp in his route execution with toughness and burst.
10. Cleveland Browns: Charlie Taumoepeau, TE/FB, Portland State
The three viable offensive linemen are gone, so the Browns will have to look elsewhere. Taumoepeau was one of the few FCS players at the Senior Bowl for a reason and one of the best remaining on the board. The former Portland State Viking teaming up with former Minnesota Vikings OC Kevin Stefanski is a great scheme fit.
Taumoepeau is undersized but ultra-physical and will likely see some H-back and full back usage. Stefanski utilizes a FB in his offense. Taumoepeau can take on some of the CJ Ham role while also contributing inline and from the slot as a compliment to David Njoku.
11. New York Jets: Derrek Tuszka, EDGE, North Dakota State
The Jets are in the same position as the Browns regarding missing out on the small school offensive linemen. Instead, they can add a contributor at another long-term huge area of need.
With good length and motor, varied rush moves and hands to work off contact, Tuszka may not have elite outside burst but is effective creating pressure and reliable versus the run.
12. Las Vegas Raiders: Isaiah Coulter, WR, Rhode Island
A relative surprise to declare early, Coulter quickly gained fans once analysts got to his film. A smooth athlete, Coulter stands out for his good feel as a route runner, great hands to catch outside his frame and run after the catch ability. The Raiders need more weapons at receiver and while Coulter is not a number one, is a safe bet to be a productive part of the rotation.
13. Indianapolis Colts: Aaron Parker, WR, Rhode Island
Parker is bigger than his teammate, and may test as a better athlete. However, worrisome drops and rawness as a route runner could see many favour Coulter.
Here though, he’d land in an ideal situation to develop under Frank Reich. The Colts are another who need playmakers, regardless of who ends up starting at QB next season and beyond.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jonah Williams, EDGE, Weber State
Whether the Bucs keep a hold of Shaq Barrett or not, another addition to the defensive line is not a bad plan. Williams impresses against the run and has outstanding size. His 34.5” arms, 80” wingspan and 6’5”, 270lb frame combines with good core strength and physicality.
He’ll be a 25-year-old rookie and his limited flexibility won’t lead to high sack totals. However, he can fit in well alongside whichever combination of Carl Nassib, Anthony Nelson and William Gholston remain for next season.
15. Denver Broncos: Mannaseh Bailey, WR, Morgan State
A deep threat receiver such as Henry Ruggs is a common suggestion for the Broncos at pick 15. If they were to go that same route in a small school only draft, Bailey would be a great option.
He’s not had a lot of draft buzz but has impressive burst and overall athleticism. Tracking the ball well downfield and able to create after the catch, he’s impactful on multiple levels. He’ll need a strong pro day but is a personal favorite sleeper in this draft class.
16. Atlanta Falcons: Chris Williams, DL, Wagner
Edge and corner are needs, but the interior D-line could use more alongside star playmaker Grady Jarrett. They could also be losing a couple contributors to free agency.
The 6’2, 307lb Williams has a good base and leverage with long 34.5” arms. Though not a flashy player, he has the size and power for the pros. Getting good extension with an impactful punch, he holds up at the point of attack.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Luther Kirk, S, Illinois State
Adding to the secondary is a must. The Cowboys have lacked a playmaking coverage safety for some time and Kirk has some upside against the pass. A bit slight and not the most imposing, but Kirk has shown nice range and ball skills. Though not a Combine invite, he could be a late-round selection with some upside.
18. Miami Dolphins: Pete Guerriero, RB, Monmouth (NJ)
In the actual first round, the Dolphins might be better served waiting until Day 2 to add a running back. Here though, the top prospect remaining on the draft board is Guerriero.
After a monster junior season that included almost 2,000 rush yards, his decision to enter the draft early was understandable. While Illinois State back James Robinson is the one who got the Combine invite, Guerriero is more explosive with impressive vision.
19. Las Vegas Raiders: Daniel Reid-Bennett, CB, Elon
The Raiders are likely to use at least one, if not both, first round picks on defense. Linebacker and corner are both areas of need, and the top prospect at either position here is Elon’s Reid-Bennett. His size at 6’0”, 200lbs with smooth athleticism should draw interest in the late rounds or as a priority free agent.
20. Jacksonville Jaguars: Darius Williams, S, Carson-Newman
A versatile playmaker in the back seven would be a welcome addition to the Jags defense. Kyle Dugger is by far the better prospect, but Williams has a similar style at less ideal measurables.
Williams’ film is fun, lining up all over the field from deep to blitzing off the edge. Basing his game off Jamal Adams, Williams is a highly physical hitter, balanced out by good instincts and football IQ.
21. Philadelphia Eagles: Jared Koski, WR, Cal Poly
Between Alshon Jeffrey’s recent foot surgery and uncertain future, J-JAW’s rookie struggles, DeSean Jackson’s increasing age and Nelson Agholor’s impending free agency, a draft investment at receiver would be understandable. The elusive, shifty JJ Koski could be an upgrade on Agholor.
Favoring making body catches, his hands might need proving, but the rest of Koski’s game is exciting. Improving every season, he produced well despite Cal Poly’s triple option offense. His footwork and burst should translate well if given an opportunity.
22. Buffalo Bills: Josh Pearson, WR, Jacksonville State
Another frequent mock draft fit is a big-bodied receiver to the Bills, often Tee Higgins. In this scenario, the 6’3”, 205lb Pearson fits the profile. While the top speed is marginal, Pearson is smooth and physical with safe hands. Basing his game (and jersey number) on Julio Jones, he’s not that caliber of athlete but has some desirable traits.
23. New England Patriots: Cam Gill, EDGE/LB, Wagner
The Patriots love versatile players who can take on multiple assignments and allignments. Gill isn’t graded as highly here as by some others, but would be a nice fit in New England.
Bringing a high motor as an edge rusher, his pursuit ability and physical tackling suits an off-ball LB role also. He can get caught out by being overly aggressive and can look a little tight-hipped.
24. New Orleans Saints: Dante Olson, LB, Montana
There’s a glaring need at linebacker for the Saints. With the highly productive seeker Olson still on the board, he makes some sense. His testing will be interesting, looking limited athletically on film. The instincts and tackling ability are pluses between the tackles. His questionable ability to contribute in coverage hurts his stock but his play versus the run should translate.
25. Minnesota Vikings: Michael Bandy, WR, San Diego
Whether Stefon Diggs is staying or going (presumably the former), the options behind the top two wide outs were more miss than hit. Bandy is undersized but an energetic slot receiver who runs great routes and exploits space well. His reliable polished game could see him emulate receivers like Cole Beasley and Adam Humphries with the right opportunity.
26. Miami Dolphins: Kevin Davidson, QB, Princeton
The Dolphins aren’t exactly going to find a Tua or Herbert in this situation. Davidson will still provide them a developmental option at this late stage of the small school mock, however. Davidson isn’t graded highly here. There are significant limitations in his movement, experience and slow mental process.
He is the lone FCS quarterback at the Combine for other traits of interest though. His good arm strength and solid accuracy to all levels will see someone take a chance on Day 3.
27. Seattle Seahawks: Austin Edwards, EDGE, Ferris State
Raw but with good length and power, Edwards has traits that would fit well with the Seahawks. The Division II All-American performed well at the East-West Shrine event. Though quite upright as a rusher and lacking defined rush plans, Edwards can dominate at the point of attack. His motor runs hot and there’s flashes with his hand work to continue developing.
28. Baltimore Ravens: Christian Rozeboom, LB, South Dakota State
More athletic and rangy than Olson, Rozeboom could be the better fit of the two for the Ravens. He’s prone to some poor angles and guesswork but chases everything down and sacrifices his body as a tackler. Trusting his work ethic and the Ravens coaching staff to sharpen up his game, he could thrive in Baltimore.
29. Tennessee Titans: James Robinson, RB, Illinois State
Even if the Titans retain Derrick Henry, another power back would be a sensible move. Robinson is the lone FCS running back going to the Combine but can underwhelm on film. The lack of speed and short-area burst is notable.
There’s not a great deal in his game that stands out, with his consistent production at the lower levels the main selling point. His decision making is solid though and could play a role in the Titans’ favorable system.
30. Green Bay Packers: Chris Rowland, WR, Tennessee State
Rowland won’t be a prospect on every board. He may not make the Packers board, either. His diminutive 5’7”, 180lb frame is an obvious disadvantage. It’s tough not to fall for his dynamic film, however.
The explosive playmaker is electric with the ball in his hands and can carve out a role as a special teams returner. His game differs from that of the other receivers on Green Bay’s roster, several of whom have underperformed.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Dieter Eiselen, IOL, Yale
The primary needs are in the secondary, though the best options are arguably gone by this time. Depending on who they bring back, some depth at offensive line is another option.
There’s no opportunity to find Joe Staley’s long-term replacement but a developmental interior lineman could be taken instead. Eiselen is a limited athlete but well built at 6’4”, 308lbs. He plays with a mean streak in the run game and a stout anchor in pass pro.
32. Kansas City Chiefs: Tershawn Wharton, DL, Missouri S&T
It’s a case of best player left on the board, adding to the defensive rotation. Wharton’s film was a blast to watch. He’s an unusual build at 6’1”, 280lbs but has explosiveness and a non-stop motor. His quickness impresses in space.
Playing with his plus leverage and better-than-expected upper body technique, Wharton’s energy and physicality might see him make a roster despite lacking length. While Chris Jones likely returns, others on the D-line may not be re-signed or cut.
It would do a disservice not to mention outstanding punter Alex Pechin of Bucknell. Though not included in this mock, he’s worthy of a Day 3 selection. His booming leg and touch kicks could make him a top player at his position in the league. He’s also as high character a person as anyone in this class.
Feature Image Credit: Dayton Athletics
CFB/NFL DRAFT analyst
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.