FCS draft class review
(STATS) - Sam Bradford's the starting quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, but he doesn't seem to want to be that now that North Dakota State legend (legend? yeah, pretty much) Carson Wentz is in the flock.
Bradford, Philly's new malcontent, wants out via trade and is skipping team workouts to make his point.
An awkward situation, no doubt, especially with another favorite of first-year coach Doug Pederson, Chase Daniel, signed to a contract this offseason, like Bradford.
So how will the fresh-faced Wentz react when he meets Bradford for the first time?
"Professionally," he says.
"I won't make it bigger that it needs to be. I'm just going to go there and focus on what I can control and learning as much ball as I can as quick as I can."
Those words fit Carson Wentz just right. The highest-drafted player from a non-FBS program since Division I college football split two ways in 1978 brings an intelligent, blue-collar and unspoiled way to the NFL - a member of the last five FCS national championships at North Dakota State, and the most outstanding player of the two most recent title games.
Other FCS players tend to be motivated by the small-school label of the FCS, but Wentz, who the Eagles selected second overall behind new Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff, gets to be himself. He might have the style to even change an Eagles fan base that's considered as tough as they come.
Wentz can make football fun like Brett Favre, with whom Eagles coach Doug Pederson compared Wentz, did for Green Bay.
"You'll see a competitor," Wentz said, "a guy who's passionate about the game and is going to be the hardest worker out there. I'm going to go in there and earn the respect of my teammates. And they're going to see a leader and a guy that knows what's going on. I'm going to be the first one in, last one out. I'm just going to compete my tail off and hopefully win a lot of ballgames."
A 33-year-old lineman may not want to hear such rah-rah college talk from a teammate 10 years younger than him. But in a city that is starved for success among its professional sports teams, that's what Philadelphia fans want out of the future of their franchise.
The Eagles see the special qualities in Wentz, moving up in trades from the 13th pick in the draft to the eighth and to No. 2. And they're ready to embrace his youthful exuberance - professionally speaking, of course.
"It's really exciting knowing that a team believes in me that much to go up and get me," Wentz said.
"He's got all of the intangibles," said Howie Roseman, the Eagles' executive vice president of football operations. "A 40 (Wonderlic) test score. Valedictorian of his high school class. Never got a B.
"Then he has those rare physical skills. The athletic ability. The strong arm. The body type. He can be molded into whatever you want."
BETTER THAN THE AVERAGE YEAR=
The FCS has come to average 18 selections in the seven-round NFL Draft, but this year's draft surpassed that number.
With Wentz leading the way as the first FCS selection in the first round in six years, the lower half of Division I college football had 20 overall selections.
The breakdown was 13 defensive players, six offensive players and one special-teamer.
Southern Utah fell short of having three players chosen from its defense after All-America end James Cowser went undrafted. But the Big Sky champions were one of three FCS schools with two selections each as strong safety Miles Killebrew went to the Detroit Lions in the fourth round (No. 111 overall) and cornerback LeShaun Sims was the Tennessee Titans' second of two fifth-round selections (158).
Wentz and offensive tackle Joe Haeg (Indianapolis Colts, fifth round, 155) represented North Dakota State and South Carolina State had a pair of choices in defensive tackle Javon Hargrave (Pittsburgh Steelers, third round, 89) and tight end Temarrick Hemingway (Los Angeles Rams, sixth round, 177).
PICKS BY CONFERENCE=
The Big Sky Conference capped off a banner 2015 season by leading all FCS conferences with four draft selections.
The breakdown by conference:
Big Sky - four
MEAC, Missouri Valley and Southland - three each
CAA, Ivy and Ohio Valley - two each
Southern - one
Few projections had Princeton tight end Seth DeValve getting selected in the draft. Not only did he get drafted, but the Cleveland Browns scooped him up in the fourth round with the 138th overall pick.
That's the earliest selection for a Princeton player in the modern draft era.
A wide receiver in college, the 6-foot-4 DeValve bulked up to 245 pounds during the buildup to the draft.
He battled injuries each of the past two seasons. After playing in only two games in 2014, he withdrew from Princeton to regain his senior season, and then returned last fall to catch 33 passes for 337 yards and a touchdown in only six games.
But DeValve posted strong numbers at Princeton's pro day last month and wound up giving the Ivy League program a draft selection for the third time in the last four years.
FCS SELECTIONS IN THE 2016 NFL DRAFT=
Day 1 - Thursday, April 28 (Round 1)
Philadelphia Eagles (1st round, No. 2 overall) - Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State: The first FCS player selected in the first round since the Baltimore Ravens picked Delaware QB Joe Flacco in 2008.
Day 2 - Friday, April 29 (Rounds 2 and 3)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2nd, 39) - Noah Spence, DE/OLB, Eastern Kentucky, 6-2, 251: Explosive pass rusher totaled 22.5 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks and 15 QB hurries in 11 games while facing double-teams at EKU.
Carolina Panthers (2nd, 62) - James Bradberry, CB, Samford, 6-1, 211: Bump-and-run corner joined former secondary mate Jaquiski Tartt (San Francisco 49ers, 2015) as a second-round selection.
Pittsburgh Steelers (3rd, 89) - Javon Hargrave, DT, South Carolina State, 6-1, 309: Racked up 29½ sacks and 43½ tackles for loss while earning MEAC defensive player of the year award the past two seasons.
Day 3 - Saturday, April 30 (Rounds 4-7)
Tampa Buccaneers (4th, 108) - Ryan Smith, CB, North Carolina Central, 5-11, 189: Like Hargrave out of the MEAC, Smith was one of the fastest risers among FCS draft prospects.
Detroit Lions (4th, 111) - Miles Killebrew, SS, Southern Utah, 6-2, 217: As one of the hardest hitters among defensive backs in the draft, Killebrew may be molded into a hybrid linebacker.
Chicago Bears (4th, 127) - Deiondre Hall, DB, Northern Iowa, 6-2, 199: His 13 career interceptions at UNI were one off the high among FCS seniors and four went for pick-sixes.
Cleveland Browns (4th, 138) - Seth DeValve, TE, Princeton, 6-4, 245: Converted wide receiver is known for his ball skills and ability to adjust to a pass.
Indianapolis Colts (5th, 155) - Joe Haeg, OT, North Dakota State, 6-6, 305: Made an incredible 60 career starts at tackle as a result of NDSU's dynasty. He might be targeted for guard in the NFL.
Tennessee Titans (5th, 158) - LeShaun Sims, CB, Southern Utah, 6-0, 203: Wasn't held back by disappointing measurables at the NFL Combine. He ran a verified 4.41 seconds in the 40-yard dash at SUU's junior day last spring.
Seattle Seahawks (5th, 170) - Cole Toner, OT, Harvard, 6-5, 306: Intelligent player is athletic with room to grow in size. Ivy League power Harvard had six players in the NFL last year.
Los Angeles Rams (6th, 177) - Temarrick Hemingway, TE, South Carolina State, 6-5, 244: Posted consistent production in his college career, topped by a 38-catch senior season.
Jacksonville Jaguars (6th, 181) - Tyrone Holmes, OLB, Montana, 6-4, 250: As a senior, the 2015 STATS FCS Defensive Player of the Year led the nation with 18 sacks.
Chicago Bears (6th, 185) - DeAndre Houston-Carson, FS, William & Mary, 6-1, 201: Blocked nine kicks in college, so DHC will make an impact on special teams. But he also has the ball skills to make plays in the secondary.
Arizona Cardinals (6th, 205) - Harlan Miller, CB, Southeastern Louisiana, 6-0, 182: Three-time All-Southland Conference first-teamer was selected as the top defensive back during practices at the Senior Bowl. He followed it up with a game-high seven tackles.
New England Patriots (6th, 208) - Kamu Grugier-Hall, OLB, Eastern Illinois, 6-2, 215: Athletic linebacker reunited with former EIU quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, the Patriots' second-round pick in 2014.
Jacksonville Jaguars (7th, 226) - Jonathan Woodard, DE, 6-6, 271, Central Arkansas: With his size, Woodard isn't one of the many FCS defensive ends who will be converted to outside linebacker.
New York Jets (7th, 235) - Lachlan Edwards, P, Sam Houston State, 6-4, 209: Looking like a linebacker, the Australian punter had 6,599 yards in punts over his final two seasons.
Indianapolis Colts (7th, 239) - Trevor Bates, LB, Maine, 6-2, 245: At Maine's pro day, the Colts kept Bates afterward to run through more drills. Obviously, they were impressed by the more-toned former defensive end.
Carolina Panthers (7th, 252) - Beau Sandland, TE, Montana State, 6-4, 253: The former Miami Hurricane earned All-America first-team honors in his only season on the FCS level, totaling 37 receptions for 632 yards and nine touchdowns.
UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS=
Going undrafted can allow a player with multiple free agent offers the chance to pick a favorable situation. A number of coveted free agents will have potential offers before the draft even ends and then come to terms in the hours following it.
Josh Buchanan, an NFLPA Collegiate Bowl scout and perhaps the nation's leading evaluator of small school draft talent, had the following 10 FCS players as his highest-rated to go undrafted:
James Cowser, DE, Southern Utah; Ben Braunecker, TE, Harvard; Josh Woodrum, QB, Liberty; Anthony Fabiano, C, Harvard; Victor Ochi, OLB, Stony Brook; Devaunte Sigler, DT, Jacksonville State; Marshaun Coprich, RB, Illinois State; Greg Milhouse, DT, Campbell; Makinton Dorleant, CB, Northern Iowa; and Clay DeBord, OT, Eastern Washington.
EYE TOWARD 2017=
The next Carson Wentz?
OK, there is no Carson Wentz-like story in next year's pool of FCS candidates. But Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp, coming off a junior season in which he was voted the STATS FCS Offensive Player of the Year, could be the headliner in the draft class. He is ranked seventh in CBS Sports' early rankings for 2017 wide receivers.
A handful of FCS players have top 20 rankings by CBS Sports at their respective positions, including Montana's Brady Gustafson (quarterback, 10th), Chattanooga's Corey Levin (offensive tackle, seventh), Jacksonville State's Casey Dunn (center, 12th), Coastal Carolina's De'Angelo Henderson (running back, 12th), North Carolina A&T's Tarik Cohen (running back, 17th) and Harvard's Anthony Firkser (fullback, seventh).
On defense: Jacksonville State's LaMichael Fanning (defensive end, 13th), Maine's Christophe Mulumba Tshimanga (inside linebacker, 15th), Stetson's Donald Payne (strong safety, 11th), Richmond's David Jones (free safety, 13th) and James Madison's Taylor Reynolds (cornerback, 18th).
Also, on special teams: Chattanooga's Henrique Ribeiro (kicker, 17th), Cornell's Chris Fraser (punter, sixth) and Southeast Missouri State's Alex Knight (punter, 15th).