Although the Senior Bowl is an afterthought for most college football fans these days, it is the one place where the FCS can really shine. It is one of the few times where FCS players can square off against top-notch competition, and how they do in Mobile greatly affects their perception in the eyes of NFL scouts.
If you have a great performance during the week, there’s a good chance you can be a Day One or Day Two pick in the NFL Draft. If not, you are likely to be an undrafted free agent fighting an uphill battle all summer.
Let’s take a look at some of the FCS players taking part in the Senior Bowl.
Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond
Lauletta is the player with the most to gain during this week. This year’s NFL Draft features four or five quarterback prospects considered to be first- or second-round picks, but there is a drop-off after that.
With a solid performance in Mobile, Lauletta could be a mid-round pick. Of all the quarterbacks in the FCS last year, he was the most pro-ready and demonstrated everything you’d want in a quarterback. Lauletta has the mobility that NFL teams are starting to incorporate in their game plans and a big arm to boot.
He threw for over 10,000 yards and 73 touchdowns in his career at Richmond and succeeded in two different systems. Lauletta played in a pro-style under Danny Rocco early in his career and shined in the spread under Russ Huesman.
Taron Johnson, DB, Weber State
Johnson was one of the players that made Weber State’s defense elite in 2017. He is a ballhawking defensive back who could shut down opposing receivers with relative ease. Not only can he turn and run with receivers, but he can be physical with them too.
Johnson was the best defensive back in all of FCS last year. He was a unanimous First Team All-American and ended up being named Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year.
He has the athleticism to be one of the stars of the Senior Bowl.
Darius Leonard, LB, South Carolina State
Few players were as disruptive as Leonard was last season. Although he played on a team that finished the year 3-7, it was apparent that offenses had to design their gameplans around him.
Leonard helped make the Bulldogs one of the best run defenses in the country. He was a tackling machine, racking up 114 tackles in 10 games, with 12 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks.
Leonard is someone to keep an eye on during the Senior Bowl.
Brandon Parker, OT, North Carolina A&T
The FCS player that NFL scouts have been raving about the most is Brandon Parker. Although Parker hasn’t had the best week of practice, you can see the potential he has. Parker was a road grater all season long for the Aggies, helping lead this team to an undefeated record and an HBCU national championship.
He is 6’7, 303 lbs with quick feet and great strength. He toyed with defensive ends in the MEAC throughout the year, but this has been a big step up in competition for him. However, with a solid performance, there is talk that he could be a first-round pick in the NFL Draft.