Evaluating the last five FCS draft classes: 2015
(STATS) - Those who saw what running back David Johnson did against FBS-level teams during his career at Northern Iowa may not find his success in the NFL overly surprising.
However, players coming from the FCS can offer a little more value when they pay off like Johnson. The Arizona Cardinals only had to invest a third-round pick on him in 2015. He had an outstanding rookie season that year, then led the league in yards from scrimmage (2,118) in 2016.
John McMullen, a national NFL columnist for FanRag Sports, says the recent success of players like Johnson have opened up the mind of NFL evaluators moving forward.
"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."
The fourth 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 in 2015. The final installment, about the 2016 draft, is scheduled to run Friday.
This year's draft will be held April 27-29 in Philadelphia.
2015 NFL DRAFT (17 FCS SELECTIONS)=
San Francisco 49ers (2nd, 46) - Jaquiski Tartt, SS, Samford
Arizona Cardinals (3rd, 86) - David Johnson, RB, Northern Iowa
Arizona Cardinals (4th, 116) - Rodney Gunter, DT/DE, Delaware State
Baltimore Ravens (4th, 135) - Tray Walker, CB, Texas Southern
Minnesota Vikings (5th, 143) - MyCole Pruitt, TE, Southern Illinois
New Orleans Saints (5th, 148) - Davis Tull, OLB, Chattanooga
San Diego Chargers (5th, 153) - Kyle Emanuel, OLB, North Dakota State
Seattle Seahawks (5th, 170) - Tye Smith, CB, Towson
Baltimore Ravens (5th, 171) - Nick Boyle, TE, Delaware
Kansas City Chiefs (5th, 173) - James O'Shaughnessy, TE, Illinois State
Baltimore Ravens (5th, 176) - Robert Myers, OG, Tennessee State
Oakland Raiders (7th, 218) - Anthony Morris, OG, Tennessee State
Jacksonville Jaguars (7th, 220) - Neal Sterling, WR, Monmouth
New York Jets (7th, 223) - Deon Simon, NT, Northwestern State
Atlanta Falcons (7th, 225) - Jake Rodgers, OT, Eastern Washington
Buffalo Bills (7th, 234) - Dezmin Lewis, WR, Central Arkansas
Tennessee Titans (7th, 245) - Tre McBride, WR, William & Mary
Best Player: David Johnson (Arizona) - Johnson is right there with Le'Veon Bell as one of the most well-rounded backs in football after rushing for 1,239 yards and 16 touchdowns while adding another 879 yards and four more scores through the air. Over 2,000 all-purpose yards and 20 TDs is gaudy production and Johnson is in the conversation with Bell and Ezekiel Elliott for the best RB1 in football.
Most Underrated: Kyle Emanuel (San Diego) - The 2014 Buck Buchanan Award winner has proven to be a versatile linebacker and excellent special-teams player for the Chargers. By his second season, he developed into a starter on the outside opposite Melvin Ingram and is regarded as a steady SAM option, especially in run support.
Most Disappointing: Jaquiski Tartt (San Francisco) - It's way too early to give up on Tartt, but on a 2-14 team desperate for life on defense, he failed to provide it, especially struggling in run support because he's just not physical enough. The tragedy of Tray Walker losing his life in a Miami-area dirt bike accident in March 2016 also should be noted.