Evaluating the last five FCS draft classes: 2014
(STATS) - The 2014 NFL Draft for FCS prospects is one of the most unusual because the first player taken is highly coveted even though he has paid relatively few dividends.
True evaluations of selections come over time and it's especially the case with New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garappolo, the 2013 Walter Payton Award winner out of Eastern Illinois.
But players like Garappolo have helped improve the perception of former FCS players, says John McMullen, a national NFL columnist for FanRag Sports.
"Most NFL decision makers now understand if a kid reaches the base skill set you need to play in this league, it doesn't matter if you are from Alabama or North Dakota State," McMullen said. "Talent is talent."
Part of a five-year look at the draft this week, the following is McMullen's assessment of the best, most underrated and most disappointing FCS picks from the 2013 draft. Parts 4-5, spanning the 2015-16 drafts, will run later this week.
This year's draft will be held April 27-29 in Philadelphia.
2014 NFL DRAFT (19 FCS SELECTIONS)=
New England Patriots (2nd, 62) - Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
Miami Dolphins (3rd, 67) - Billy Turner, OT, North Dakota State
Cleveland Browns (3rd, 94) - Terrance West, RB, Towson
Minnesota Vikings (3rd, 96) - Jerick McKinnon, RB, Georgia Southern
Miami Dolphins (4th, 125) - Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty
New York Jets (4th, 137) - Dakota Dozier, OG, Furman
Baltimore Ravens (4th, 138) - Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB/FB, Coastal Carolina
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5th, 143) - Kadeem Edwards, OG, Tennessee State
Detroit Lions (5th, 158) - Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton
Miami Dolphins (5th, 171) - Jordan Tripp, OLB, Montana
Minnesota Vikings (6th, 184) - Kendall James, CB, Maine
Miami Dolphins (6th, 190) - Matt Hazel, WR, Coastal Carolina
Arizona Cardinals (6th, 196) - Walter Powell, WR, Murray State
St. Louis Rams (7th, 226) - Mitchell Van Dyk, OT, Portland State
Miami Dolphins (7th, 234) - Terrence Fede, DE, Marist
Oakland Raiders (7th, 235) - Shelby Harris, DT, Illinois State
St. Louis Rams (7th, 250) - Demetrius Rhaney, C, Tennessee State
Cincinnati Bengals (7th, 252) - Lavelle Westbrooks, CB, Georgia Southern
Atlanta Falcons (7th, 255) - Tyler Starr, OLB, South Dakota
Best Player: Terrance West (Cleveland) - There hasn't been a great return from FCS prospects in this draft and most would tell you Garoppolo is the runaway best player, but Tom Brady's backup remains about projection more than anything else after throwing just 94 passes through his first three NFL seasons. Garoppolo has tremendous value around the league because of the desperation at the quarterback position, but when evaluating actual performance, West had a bit of a renaissance in Baltimore last season with 774 yards and five touchdowns and figures to battle with Kenneth Dixon to be the Ravens' bell cow in 2017.
Most Underrated: Jerick McKinnon (Minnesota) - A former triple option quarterback at Georgia Southern, McKinnon has been a really solid backup to Adrian Peterson with the Vikings, and now that the former MVP has moved on from Minneapolis, McKinnon, and not the recently signed Latavius Murray, is Mike Zimmer's most talented runner.
Most Disappointing: Billy Turner (Miami) - Turner got plenty of opportunities in South Florida, both inside and outside, but the efficiency just wasn't there. He was released last October after filling in for injured left tackle Branden Albert and allowing three sacks against Tennessee. A subsequent look in Baltimore didn't work out and Turner was picked up on waivers by the Denver Broncos, who hope he can develop into a competent offensive guard.