The 2019 NFL Draft is still a long way away. But for now, I am going to look at five guys who should either get their name called during the draft or should be a useful undrafted free agent for any team that picks them up. All players, of course, are currently playing at the FCS level.
Gage Gubrud, QB, Eastern Washington
As of writing this, Eastern Washington is doing well in the Big Sky division and sit at 5-1 with their only loss being to Washington State. Gage Gubrud is a big reason why they are doing well. During his time at EWU, he had the chance to throw to both Cooper Kupp, who is now flourishing at the LA Rams and Kendrick Bourne, who is steadily growing into his role with the San Fran 49ers. During his four years, he has played 33 games and thrown 1,165 passes with 753 completions for a 64.6% completion rate. He is currently 16 yards away from 10,000 passing yards. Guburd is also 13 touchdowns away from 100 career touchdowns and has rushed for 1,042 yards on 259 attempts.
Gubrud is, in my opinion, the most versatile quarterback currently playing in the FCS and has a great chance of succeeding in the NFL thanks to his athletic ability. He is highly decorated in FCS football and is a two-time finalist for the Walter Payton Award, the same award Cooper Kupp (2015), Jimmy Garoppolo (2013) and Tony Romo (2002) won.
A good fit for Gubrud would be to end up in Miami as the successor to Ryan Tannehill. They are a similar type of player, but Gubrud is more talented at this stage (yes, I am saying Tannehill is past it already).
Reggie White Jr, WR, Monmouth
Now, Reggie White Jr already has NFL pedigree in his blood. Not the Reggie White you are thinking of that played defensive end most famously for the Eagles and the Packers. The defensive tackle that played four years in the NFL from 1992 to 1995 for the Chargers and Patriots. In his four years playing at Monmouth, White Jr currently has 2,900 receiving yards and is on course to finish with around 3,500 by the end of the season including 23 touchdowns. His stats are good as is his physique as he stands 6’3 and 210lbs.
He looks like an NFL receiver and his accolades speak for themselves. In 2016 he caught at least three passes in every game, led the Big South division in receptions with 69 and yards with 934. Then in 2017, he finished first in the conference in receiving touchdowns, receiving yards, yards per game and receptions per game. There is a good reason he is quarterback Kenji Bahar’s favorite target; he is an absolute yardage machine. He could have a legitimately good career in the NFL if a team takes the gamble on him in next year’s draft. Any team that takes him will probably line him up as a slot receiver, which would make him one of the more physical slot receivers in the league.
Nehari Crawford, WR, Duquesne
This for me is one of the bigger gambles on this list. Crawford stands at 5’11 and 175 lbs, which would make him typically undersized for an NFL receiver. His stats, however, speak for themselves. Looking at his 2017 season, he managed 1,026 yards for 15 touchdowns in 11 games. Truth be told, Crawford is only on this list because he is an explosive player, and I noticed him when I was watching AJ Hines play for Duquesne (he is the next big running back to come out of the FCS https://dynastyfootballfactory.com/fcs-spotlight-aj-hines-rb-duquesne/).
It is likely that if Crawford makes it to the NFL, they would turn into a good kick/punt returner who is occasionally used as a receiver out of the slot. Still, he is definitely worth keeping an eye on for now.
Dominick Bragalone, RB, Lehigh
I think I have saved the best for last here. I am a huge fan of Bragalone and what he has done in his time at Lehigh. He could have been a walk-on for Penn State or Rutgers but chose to play for Lehigh. Bragalone then became the first Lehigh freshman to rush for over 1,000 yards in over ten years. He is currently one of the favorites to win the Walter Payton Award This award is given to the best offensive player in the football championship subdivision, and he is thought of as one of the best running backs in Lehigh’s history. During his four years playing for Lehigh, he has tallied 3,911 yards in 39 games and rushed for a superb 42 touchdowns, averaging 100.28 yards per game.
His downfall is that this year Lehigh currently sits at 1-5, meaning he has had less chance to run the ball. Because of this, he has only managed 344 yards and three touchdowns so far. But if NFL scouts look past that and look at his tape across the years, I think there is a strong chance he gets his name called in the draft. He isn’t your prototypical three-down back in the NFL, as he is not often used in the passing game for Lehigh. He tallied only 41 receptions across the four years (despite 6 of those receptions being touchdowns). However, he could fit into a really good ‘running back by committee’ role somewhere in the NFL with his 230 lb frame helping him play as a real power runner.
Thanks for reading, feel free to follow me on Twitter @DFF_JamesH for all things FCS!