Few FCS Surprises in 2012 NFL Draft

Matt Johnson, Eastern WashingtonBy Josh Buchanan
NFL Columnist
College Sports Journal
 
PHILADELPHIA, PA. — There were not a lot surprises for me among Football Championship Subdivision players as the NFL draft unfolded last week.
 
Appalachian State wide receiver Brian Quick had long been expected to be the first pick among FCS players and his selection as the first pick of the second round by the St. Louis Rams — after a secret workout at ASU’s indoor practice facility last week with coach Jeff Fisher and other Ram staff in attendance — confirmed that several NFL teams had given Quick a first-round draft grade.
 
Based on the board and where I had them here are my superlatives:

 

FAVORITE PICK
 
WR Brian Quick, Appalachian State, 2nd round, 33rd overall, St. Louis Rams
 
He was my No. 1 rated small school prospect since last year and there was no doubt on draft day who the first FCS prospect taken would be. Quick is big, fast, and strong with no deficiencies in his game.
 
Are there faster or better route runners out there?  Of course there are. But Quick has one advantage in that every other player in this draft had some type of deficiency except for Justin Blackmon who was even considered to be less than the ideal speed and Quick doesn’t have one.
 
I love this pick because Fisher — whose own son Brandon Fisher played FCS football as a linebacker at Montana — loves small school kids and he knows talented ones. Don’t forget some of the FCS picks Fisher has had over the years.
 
Expect this to be a home run as long as Quick adjusts to the mental aspect of the NFL game. I know many fans are out there saying the Rams reached big time on Brian Quick but this was no reach.
 
I kept saying on the message boards and in my articles all along that Quick might go in the first round and he almost did. He had been rated in the second round on NFL team boards since early in the fall.

 

BIGGEST SURPRISE PICK
 
SS Matt Johnson, Eastern Washington, 4th round, 135th overall, Dallas Cowboys
 
I liked Johnson as a free agent pickup and the Cowboys reached all the way up to the fourth round for this one. I felt offensive lineman David Arkin of Southwest Missouri State was a slight reach taken in the fourth round last year and they reached for Western Illinois linebacker Jason Williams in the third round a few years ago as well.
 
This was a reach in my opinion because I saw him as a practice squad player and not as a legit starter. I think he does some things well and is a solid athlete but I think he would have been available in the sixth round and I doubt someone else would have taken him here. Johnson also has an injury history that makes him a further risk.

 

BIGGEST STEAL
 
FS/CB Justin Bethel, Presbyterian College, 6th round, 177th overall, Arizona Cardinals
 
This was tough because I also liked Jeremy Lane of Northwestern State for this, and even College Sports Journal lineman of the year Tom Compton of South Dakota, but I went with Bethel because I think he will impact as a rookie on special teams.
 
Bethel eventually could play either safety or corner in Arizona and provide them with quality playing time in two phases of the game. I am going to predict right now he has a blocked kick in the preseason.

 

BIGGEST REACH
 
OG Gino Gradkowski, Delaware, 4th round, 98th overall, Baltimore Ravens
 
I know most people are saying this is Brian Quick for sure.  And while the Ravens are good evaluators and I don’t think Gradkowski is a bad player I see him as a backup.
 
When taken this high you are saying he could be a starter for you and I just don’t see more than a backup.  I think this will end up being a reach pick that many will say they should have made in the sixth or seventh round instead of the top 100 selection.

 

BIGGEST BUST POTENTIAL
 
CB Josh Norman, Coastal Carolina- 5th round, 143rd overall, Carolina Panthers
 
Hands down this is Norman. I don’t think he will last four years in the NFL and I would be surprised if he lasts two full years with the Panthers.
 
He’s not very tough and has character concerns. I love his skill set but when there are reports of you crying on the phone during the draft because you didn’t go in the second or third round that doesn’t show me toughness and in the NFL if you aren’t tough you go home.

 

FCS BREAKDOWN BY POSITION
 
QB- 1
RB- 0
FB- 0
WR- 1
TE- 0
OT- 1
OG- 1
C- 0
DE- 0
DT- 1
ILB- 1
OLB- 0
CB- 4
FS- 2
SS- 3
K- 0
P- 0
LS- 0
RS- 0

 

FCS BREAKDOWN BY CONFERENCE
 
Big Sky- 3
Big South- 2
CAA- 2
Great West- 2
MEAC- 1
SoCon- 3
Southland- 1

Independents- 1
 

2012 FCS NFL DRAFT BOARD

Rd

Pick

Team

Pos

First Name

Last Name

School

Flag

Ht

Wt

40 Time

Combine

Rd. Proj.

 

2

33

St. Louis 

WR

Brian

Quick

Appalachian State

A M

6033

215

4.53/4.59

yes

2nd

 

I like this pick more than most.  He has a shot to be an impact starter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

65

St. Louis 

CB

Trumaine

Johnson

Montana 

C

6016

200

4.50/4.69

yes

2nd

 

The Rams went with another small school measurables freak in Johnson who I see as a corner or safety.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

98

Baltimore 

OG

Gino

Gradkowski

Delaware 

 

6026

299

5.25/5.31

 

7th

 

This was a big reach but the Ravens are known for reaching on small school linemen. They know talent though so you have to wonder what they saw that most didn’t.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

130

Baltimore 

FS

Christian

Thompson

South Carolina State 

C

6004

208

4.42/4.50

yes

5th-6th

 

Another FCS player taken by the Ravens and the 2nd of three in this draft.  Thompson has the tools but needs to be more consistent. This was a slight reach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

133

Green Bay 

SS

Jerron

McMillian

Maine 

 

5112

201

4.35/4.38

yes

6th-7th

 

McMillian was one of the more underrated players by the media and while they reached according to my board I do think he could surprise and be a quality player.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

135

Dallas 

SS

Matt

Johnson

Eastern Washington 

M

6005

211

4.53/4.54

 

PFA

 

Johnson is a four-time All-Big Sky selection and a player I liked but as a developmental practice squad player. This was a reach on my board big time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

143

Carolina 

CB

Josh

Norman 

Coastal Carolina

C

6002

190

4.57/4.64

yes

4th-5th

 

The media expected the third round on Norman but character concerns caused the drop and he fell right where I expected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

162

New Orleans 

SS

Corey

White

Samford

 

5114

202

4.39/4.47

yes

7th-PFA

 

I knew a few teams liked White in the 5th or 6th round but he is stiff and inconsistent so I had him lower.  He’s a good athlete though that will be a solid backup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

169

Baltimore 

CB

Asa

Jackson 

Cal Poly

M

5101

185

4.47/4.48

yes

5th

 

Jackson was subpar in the postseason but is a smart kid who can run and help on special teams.  He fell exactly where I expected and had him valued.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

172

Seattle 

CB

Jeremy

Lane

Northwestern State

C

5116

184

4.48/4.51

 

4th-5th

 

I moved Lane way up the board late after watching tape on him towards the end of the process that really impressed me. This could be a steal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

177

Arizona 

FS

Justin

Bethel 

Presbyterian College 

M

5117

198

4.52/4.59

yes

5th

 

I really like Bethel and think they got slight value here because he can help on special teams just as much as defense.

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