Most rebuilding NFL teams look to stock up on draft picks from players in powerhouse NCAA Division I FBS schools. It’s a well known fact that universities like Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Clemson and Oklahoma are essentially minor league systems for professional teams. They’re well regarded with good reason; their players are among the most talented in the nation, and routinely go up against the best competition.
However, FCS(Football Championship Subdivision) schools can produce some big time prospects as well. It’s incumbent on NFL scouting departments to do their due diligence, but there are a lot of diamonds in the rough in FCS. As we approach the first Sunday of the NFL season, let’s take a closer look at the three best players on current NFL teams who played their college ball in FCS.
Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard completely debunked any theories about whether FCS players could make an immediate impact in the NFL. The Colts selected Leonard in the second round of the 2018 Draft, and slotted him right into the middle of their defense.
If you didn’t know Leonard had been suiting up for South Carolina State the season before, you would have thought he was a ten year NFL veteran. In his rookie campaign, Leonard led the entire league in combined tackles with 163, which also included a league high 111 solo takedowns.
It’s not like he needed any help in stuffing ballcarriers once he got to them, which he did an awful lot. The two time All-Pro just got an enormous extension from the Colts, and will be a defensive stalwart for many years to come.
The San Francisco 49ers quarterback battle has two former FCS stars competing against one another. North Dakota State’s Trey Lance and Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo will be vying for the trust of head coach Kyle Shanahan this season, and might even get a chance to have close to equal playing time in games if the preseason is any indication.
However, Garoppolo gets the nod in this piece due to his NFL body of work, which includes a Super Bowl appearance just two seasons ago. Garoppolo has had a bit of a stop and start cadence to his NFL career, which has mostly been held back due to injuries.
When he has started, his team has been victorious in 75