By Josh Buchanan
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:
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.
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.
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
FCS BREAKDOWN BY CONFERENCE
Big Sky- 3
Big South- 2
Great West- 2