(STATS) - The most common theme among FCS prospects working toward the NFL Draft is that they have a chip on their shoulder.
It never fails, they can be all-conference or All-American, yet they feel they have to do more to prove themselves to the next level.
Leading into next week's NFL Combine, STATS turned to a roundtable of NFL Draft analysts who know the value of prospects coming from below the FBS - Josh Buchanan, a recruiter for the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl; Eric Galko, the owner and lead draft analyst for Optimum Scouting; and Scott Wright, the owner and lead draft analyst for DraftCountdown.com.
Over five days this week, we're picking their brains about how the FCS stacks up in this year's NFL Draft.
Which FCS prospects still have a lot to prove about themselves before the draft, and why?
Josh Buchanan: Usually NFL teams get most answers at all-star games, but a few players who have something to show would be guys like Cooper Kupp, who needs to run a good 40, or a player like Saint Francis strong safety Lorenzo Jerome, who many think is a 4.6 guy, but could really help his stock if he ran in the 4.5s. I would also say South Carolina State offensive tackle Javarius Leamon, who many want to see on the (draft) board and get a feel for how he learns. If he does well with position workouts and (gets) on the board, then I could see him going higher than expected, and most around the NFL think he is a seventh-round pick or PFA (priority free agent).
Another player with something to prove is Bucknell offensive tackle Julie'n Davenport, whom people want to see move around and get a feel for how far along he is with football IQ. He should do well, though, because Bucknell is a very good school and you have to be smart to go there. Another player is Campbell running back De'Shawn Jones, who tore his ACL late in the season and will have to interview well and show he has matured. I would also say the weight and ability to test well around 300 pounds for Charleston Southern offensive lineman Erik Austell because most have him in the 285- to 290-pound range. Fordham tight end Phazahn Odom had a rough year. He should have been in a major all-star game and was snubbed because of his senior campaign. He needs to show well this postseason to bounce back and have any shot at getting drafted.
Eric Galko: Villanova's Tanoh Kpassagnon has a lot still to prove, and he certainly could at the NFL Scouting Combine. A physical specimen, Kpassagnon is more athlete than NFL player at this point, and that won't change during the draft process. But Kpassagnon needs to test as a freak athlete if he hopes to continue momentum and potentially crash the second day of the NFL Draft.
Scott Wright: For a lot of the small school prospects, the question they still need to answer is speed. The 40-yard dash times at the Scouting Combine and pro day workouts can be overblown at times, but they are a piece of the puzzle and there is a reason teams go to the trouble of doing it. A poor 40 time could be especially damaging to an FCS prospect who is already dealing with concerns about his ability to adjust to a higher level of competition. Saint Francis safety Lorenzo Jerome would fall under this category.