NFL teams look to the FCS for defensive backs
No position may stock this year's NFL draft as much as defensive back.
Former NFL executive and scout Mark Dominik predicted on ESPN Radio on Wednesday - the eve of the three-day, seven-round draft in Philadelphia - that as many as 20 DBs will be selected in the first two rounds.
NFL teams regularly look to FCS programs for defensive backs. In the last five years, they have selected 17 cornerbacks - more than any other position - and nine safeties from the subdivision. The 2012 draft was particularly bountiful with a combined nine picks.
An FCS defensive back is not expected to be selected in the first two days of the draft, but a handful figure to be chosen Saturday in the fourth through seventh rounds.
Highest ranked among the FCS prospects is Lamar cornerback Brendan Langley, who played his final two seasons with the Cardinals after transferring in from Georgia. He is a press corner with excellent speed and size (6 feet, 201 pounds), and he's expected to make contributions on special teams as well.
Langley, who was on the 2016 STATS FCS All-America second team, participated in the Reese's Senior Bowl and the NFL combine. He also made pre-draft visits to the Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New York Jets and Oakland Raiders.
Lamar discontinued its football program after the 1989 season before restarting it in 2010. Langley would become Lamar's first draft pick since the Phoenix Cardinals took wide receiver Tyrone Shavers in the sixth round in 1990.
"I do expect to be drafted and I don't think there's any doubt about that," Langley told OnlineAthens.com. "I don't know where. I'll be excited regardless.
"Now it's just a waiting game and the anticipation is kind of crazy leading up to (this) weekend."
Tennessee State's Ezra Robinson (5-11, 189) is the next-highest ranked FCS cornerback. He also participated in the Senior Bowl and combine.
San Diego's Jamal Agnew (5-9 1/2, 185), Portland State's Xavier Coleman (5-11, 189) and Southern Utah's Josh Thornton (5-11, 185) add depth to the position.
At safety, Saint Francis' Lorenzo Jerome (5-10, 204), Richmond's David Jones (6-2, 210) and New Hampshire's Casey DeAndrade (5-11, 212) are the leading prospects from the FCS.