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In the FCS Huddle: FCS draft class review

When you see lists of team needs heading into the NFL Draft, so much of the analysis is predicated on what will be filled in the first round.

The fact is, teams have needs at multiple positions, so what they accomplish throughout the entire draft is vital to the plugging of holes.

And that's where FCS prospects can come into the picture.

Few of them go in the first or second round, but so many gems can be found in the mid to late rounds.

Brian Quick got it started for the FCS this year. He wasn't quite the unknown quantity, but the St. Louis Rams had a need at wide receiver and they went right for the Appalachian State standout on the second day of the draft Friday, taking him with the first pick of the second round and the 33rd overall.

Quick was the highest selection from an FCS program since there were two first-round picks in 2008, Tennessee State cornerback Dominique Rodgers- Cromartie (Arizona Cardinals, 16th overall) and Delaware quarterback Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens, 18th).

On Saturday, the Baltimore Ravens plucked Delaware guard/center Gino Gradkowski and South Carolina State free safety Christian Thompson from the FCS ranks in the fourth round, filling positional needs. Eventually, Gradkowski and Thompson hope to replace aging standouts Matt Birk and Ed Reed, respectively.

Coastal Carolina cornerback Josh Norman could have the size and skill to earn a starting spot with the Carolina Panthers, who have a need at the position. They made Norman their fifth-round choice.

Others who were drafted to teams with obvious positional needs:

* Fourth round: Maine strong safety Jerron McMillian to the Green Bay Packers and Eastern Washington strong safety Matt Johnson to the Dallas Cowboys

* Fifth round: Cal Poly cornerback Asa Jackson to the Ravens for punt returns

* Sixth round: South Dakota offensive tackle Tom Compton to the Washington Redskins

* Seventh round: Tennessee-Chattanooga quarterback B.J. Coleman to the Green Bay Packers (nah, just kidding, they have this guy named Rodgers)

Later-round picks most likely will be backups or assigned to the practice squad. But, clearly, the opportunities are there for them.

DEFENSIVE BACKS RULE

As expected, this was the year of the defensive back among FCS prospects. Nine DBs were among the 15 FCS selections.

However, the order of selections wasn't quite the one generally anticipated, with safeties more of the earlier picks instead of the cornerbacks. They included strong safeties Millian (Maine to Packers) and Johnson (Eastern Washington to Cowboys) in the fourth round and Corey White (Samford to New Orleans Saints) in the fifth round.

BO KNOWS

The Big Sky asked followers on its Twitter feed Thursday where they thought players from the conference would be selected in the draft.

Eastern Washington quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, the 2011 Walter Payton Award winner, nailed it by responding his teammate, Johnson, would go to the Cowboys in the fourth round.

BUDDY'S BOYS

Nobody would be surprised to learn Appalachian State and Montana had at least one selection for the third straight year.

What might surprise people is the only other FCS school to claim that same distinction is South Carolina State, the MEAC power under coach Buddy Pough.

Thompson, the emerging free safety, joined former Bulldogs Johnny Culbreath (2011, Detroit Lions, seventh round) and Philip Adams (2010, San Francisco 49ers, seventh round) as recent selections.

Thompson was the 53rd all-time selection from South Carolina State.

DELAWARE-TO-DELAWARE

The snap exchange for the Baltimore Ravens may be Delaware-to-Delaware someday.

The Ravens used the third pick of the fourth round - 98th overall - to select Gradkowski, who eventually could block for Flacco, the Ravens quarterback and, like Gradowski, a former Blue Hens star.

Gradkowski and Flacco have never met before. But with the career of Birk nearing its completion, Gradkowski could be groomed as Flacco's center.

Only four guards and one center were selected before the 6-foot-3, 300-pound Gradkowski.

RAY SHERMAN, GET IN LINE

Quick, the top FCS selection, wouldn't figure to have any problems adjusting to a new coaching staff in St. Louis.

The Rams' Ray Sherman will be Quick's fifth different wide receivers coach in the last six seasons, following Lonnie Galloway (2007), Antonio Carter (2008), Lance Taylor (2009) and Trey Elder (2010-11) at Appalachian State.

GO GRIZ

Don't confuse the "small-school" reputation of the FCS with the Montana Grizzlies.

Montana has produced a strong number of NFL players in recent years. This year, the Grizzlies program was the only one in the FCS to have multiple picks, Johnson and linebacker Caleb McSurdy, who was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the seventh round.

HAVE OPPORTUNITY, WILL TRAVEL

Georgia State defensive end Christo Bilukidi is an Ottawa, Ontario, resident who was considered a prime prospect for CFL Draft next Thursday. But that league will be put on hold after the 6-5, 290-pounder was picked by the Oakland Raiders in the sixth round.

Bilukidi was born in Angola and lived in France and Brazil before Canada, where he played just one year of high school football.

2012 FCS DRAFT SELECTIONS

The 15 FCS selections were down from 21 last year. The picks:

St. Louis Rams (2nd round, 33rd selection overall) - Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State, 6-3, 220 - excellent leaper, physical talent will be red- zone threat

St. Louis Rams (3rd, 65) - Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana, 6-2, 204 - athletic cornerback has size and length to make an impact, possibly switch to free safety

Baltimore Ravens (4th, 98) - Gino Gradkowski, OG/C, Delaware, 6-3, 300 - younger brother of Cincinnati Bengals backup QB Bruce Gradkowski

Baltimore Ravens (4th, 130, compensatory selection) - Christian Thompson, FS, South Carolina State, 6-0, 211 - former Auburn player has athleticism and ability to cover tight ends; was mentored by Ravens safety Ed Reed during the draft buildup

Green Bay Packers (4th, 133, compensatory selection) - Jerron McMillian, SS, Maine, 5-11, 203 - run-stopper who is a sure tackler; possesses a high football IQ

Dallas Cowboys (4th, 135, compensatory selection) - Matt Johnson, SS, Eastern Washington, 6-1, 212 - healthy again after senior season ended after seven games because of a biceps injury.

Carolina Panthers (5th, 143) - Josh Norman, CB, Coastal Carolina, 6-0, 197 - East-West Shrine Game standout had 13 interceptions and 35 pass breakups in exceptional college career

New Orleans Saints (5th, 162) - Corey White, SS, Samford, 5-11, 206 - highest draft pick in Samford history will convert from cornerback; potential special teams player

Baltimore Ravens (5th, 169, compensatory selection) - Asa Jackson, CB, Cal Poly, 5-10, 191 - four-time All-Great West first-team selection boasts speed, speed and more speed; excellent punt returner

Seattle Seahawks (6th, 172) - Jeremy Lane, CB, Northwestern State, 6-0, 184 didn't become a starter at Southland Conference school until senior season, but is improving rapidly and excellent in press coverage

Arizona Cardinals (6th, 177) - Justin Bethel, CB/FS, Presbyterian, 6-0, 200 - first Blue Hose selection since before Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon in 1969; versatile player who blocked nine kicks in career

Oakland Raiders (6th, 189) - Christo Bilukidi, DE, Georgia State 6-5, 290 - young program's first-ever draft choice, gaining 10 sacks in Panthers' first two seasons.

Washington Redskins (6th, 193) - Tom Compton, OT, South Dakota, 6-5, 314 - South Dakota's first draft pick since 1990 must get stronger, but he's quick and has excellent technique

Dallas Cowboys (7th, 222) - Caleb McSurdy, LB, Montana 6-1, 245 - steady Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year was asked by some teams at the NFL Combine to work out as a fullback

Green Bay Packers (7th, 243, compensatory selection) - B.J. Coleman, QB, Tennessee-Chattanooga, 6-3, 233 - possesses size and some skills of a NFL starter and has worked hard to improve footwork

PICKS BY CONFERENCE

Number of FCS selections by conference (based on 2011 conferences):

Three Selections

Big Sky and Southern

Two Selections

Big South, CAA and Great West

One Selection

Independent, MEAC and Southland

No Selections

Ivy, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Pioneer and SWAC

RISERS AND FALLERS

Risers - Gradkowski (Ravens) and Johnson (Cowboys) in fourth round; White (Saints) in fifth round; Bilukidi (Raiders) in sixth round

Fallers - Compton (Redskins) in sixth round; Coleman (Packers) in seventh round; undrafted Furman cornerback Ryan Steed

DON'T FORGET US

Going undrafted can be an advantage for some players because they can pick a team that offers a favorable situation for them. But they usually have to sign quickly to get into an upcoming mini-camp and then have to impress quickly.

Some of the top undrafted free agents from FCS schools are Steed, Massachusetts H-back Emil Igwenagu and wide receiver Julian Talley, Portland State offensive tackle Dustin Waldron, Columbia offensive tackle Jeff Adams, William & Mary running back Jonathan Grimes, North Dakota State tight end Matt Veldman, South Dakota State wide receiver Dale Moss, Tennessee Tech wide receiver Tim Benford, Richmond quarterback Aaron Corp, Hampton cornerback Micah Pellerin and Old Dominion defensive tackle Ronnie Cameron.

LOOKAHEAD

The 2013 FCS draft class figures to be headlined by Southern Utah quarterback Brad Sorensen (6-4, 235) and Elon wide receiver Aaron Mellette (6-3, 212). The class should be more wide-spread than this year's, which was dominated by defensive backs.