Six FCS players to watch at all-star games
(STATS) - A wealth of talent from the FCS level will try to impress at the three most prestigious all-star games over the next two Saturdays.
Forty players will participate in either the East-West Shrine Game or NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Saturday or the Reese's Senior Bowl on Jan. 28.
This decade, the FCS level has been averaging 18 selections in the NFL Draft, so many of the players will be trying to work their way into the later rounds. With undrafted free agent contracts, it's likely all of the FCS players involved in the three games will have an opportunity in an NFL camp this year.
Here are two intriguing FCS prospects to watch at each of the three all-star games:
East-West Shrine Game=
Saturday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. (3 p.m. ET, NFL Network)
Zack Johnson, North Dakota State offensive guard (6-4, 345) - The Bison led FCS programs with eight former players on NFL rosters this past season, and Johnson figures to be the next one. Set back by injuries during his career, a big showing on the West squad may reduce that red flag. It's hard to ignore his production as his size and strength often overpowered defenders and he was rarely beaten on the interior. He finished strong as a senior, making six different All-America first teams, including the STATS squad.
Alek Torgersen, Penn quarterback (6-2, 215) - Set to share snaps with Nick Mullens of Southern Miss and Cooper Rush of Central Michigan on the East team, Torgersen will try to show off his efficiency and good decision making. He has a pro-style skill set with excellent touch as a passer. He holds the career record in Ivy League games for completion percentage (67.4) and set Penn career standards with 51 touchdown passes and 7,937 yards of total offense. It's not a big year for quarterbacks in the draft, so this is Torgersen's chance, and he's been having a solid week of practices.
NFLPA Collegiate Bowl=
Saturday at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. (4 p.m. ET, FS1)
De'Angelo Henderson, Coastal Carolina running back (5-8, 205) - "Hop," as he's called for his good jump-back mobility, is viewed as a potential change-of-pace running back, quick with good hands to catch the ball out of the backfield. He scored a touchdown in 35 straight games - a Division I record - and finished with 4,635 career rushing yards as well as 97 career receptions. Despite his smaller size, he patiently lets his blockers form a hole and then will get through with a burst to the second level of the defense. He is playing for the American team.
Lorenzo Jerome, Saint Francis free safety (5-11, 200) - Ball awareness helps separate Jerome, who could become the first Red Flash player to be drafted since 1945 and the first from the Northeast Conference since 2009. With his instinctive play, he collected 18 interceptions in his career, returning them for 396 yards, and scored touchdowns five different ways. The only four-time All-NEC first-team selection is an outstanding returner who is viewed as an instant contributor on special teams at the next level. He is playing for the American team.
Reese's Senior Bowl=
Jan. 28 at Ladd-Peebles Stadiums in Mobile, Alabama (2:30 p.m. ET, NFL Network)
Keionta Davis, Chattanooga defensive end (6-3, 270) - Optimum Scouting has Davis ranked highest among FCS prospects with a second-round grade. He plays through the whistle and with consistency, finishing his career with 31 sacks. As a junior in 2015, he held his own against former Florida State left tackle Roderick Johnson, twice named the ACC's top offensive lineman. While noted for his upside, Davis will have to show more quickness for the next level, but playing for the South squad in the Senior Bowl is an excellent place to start.
Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington wide receiver (6-1, 215) - A second straight year with an offensive FCS stud (following former North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz) will go a long way toward keeping the focus on subdivision prospects at its highest level ever. Considered a candidate for the second or third round, Kupp has better-than-average size to play the slot. The all-time Division I leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches, Kupp runs crisp routes, has good hands and picks up a lot of yardage after the catch. His story line figures to draw extra media attention as he plays for the North.