In the FCS Huddle: 2014 FCS draft class review

Philadelphia, PA ( - That the first running back came off the board Friday night later than in any other year of the NFL Draft emphasizes how the position has been devalued amid today's passing style of play.

Towson running back Terrance West has another word for his entry into the NFL - undervalued.

West, who entered the draft as a junior, snuck into the Top 100 late Friday when the Cleveland Browns traded up to San Francisco's 94th overall spot in the third round to select him. He was the sixth running back, and none came before the University of Washington's Bishop Sankey went to the Tennessee Titans in the second round at No. 54.

West epitomizes the plight of FCS players who hope to create a niche on the next level. He got a late start on his college career, and questions always persist of an FCS prospect's level of competition.

Add in that West probably would have been selected earlier if running backs were viewed like in the past, and he arrives in Cleveland with an even higher level of motivation.

"It means a lot (that the Browns traded up to select West), it means they wanted me. Now it's time for me to do my part," West said. "They drafted me, now it's time to perform and give them what they want - that's hard running and help win some games.

"I have great vision. I had a coach staff that believed in me. I'm just a dedicated guy, I play with a chip on my shoulder and I'm hungry for success. I like to prove everyone wrong."

West is no Johnny Manziel, rather a quiet, grind-it-out player. A poor man's Carlos Hyde or Jeremy Hill, he combines 5-foot-9, 225-pound size with great feet and vision. He handles the pounding between the tackles, flashed 4.54- second 40-yard speed at the NFL Combine and smells the end zone like an aardvark.

In his three seasons, West tied the FCS career record for touchdown runs with 84 (first set by Georgia Southern's Adrian Peterson) and he scored 86 overall touchdowns, only three less than the all-time FCS record, which the 2011 Jerry Rice Award winner (FCS freshman of the year) would have shattered had he returned for a senior season.

West is a talent. FCS level, or any level.


The 19 draft selections from FCS programs:

Day 1 - Thursday (Round 1)

No FCS selections

Day 2 - Friday (Rounds 2-3)

New England Patriots (2nd round, 62nd overall selection) - Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois, 6-2, 226. Air apparent for Tom Brady? It's possible for the 2013 Walter Payton Award winner, who shares the same agent as Brady.

Miami Dolphins (3rd, 67) - Billy Turner, OT, North Dakota State, 6-5, 315. Both strong and light on his feet, Turner was the bulldozer up front for the three- time FCS champion Bison. He helps fill a position of need for the Dolphins, who picked O-linemen with two of their first three picks.

Cleveland Browns (3rd, 94) - Terrance West, RB, Towson, 5-9, 225. Garoppolo will vouch for West, who rushed for 354 yards and five touchdowns against Eastern Illinois in the playoffs, as well as 2,509 yards and 41 touchdowns in his junior season.

Minnesota Vikings (3rd, 96) - Jerick McKinnon, RB, Georgia Southern, 5-9, 209. Workout wonder is strong and low to the ground, with an extra burst of speed in the open field.

Day - 3 Saturday (Rounds 4-7)

Miami Dolphins (4th, 125) - Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty, 6-2, 205. A big, physical corner, Aikens rose draft boards after posting a strong draft buildup.

New York Jets (4th, 137) - Dakota Dozier, OG, Furman, 6-4, 313 - Strong performance against FBS competition was an eye-opener with the athletic Dozier, who was Furman's starter at left tackle for four straight seasons.

Baltimore Ravens (4th, 138) - Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB/FB, Coastal Carolina, 6-0, 229. The hard-nosed running back has a patient running style and is rarely dropped for a loss; could transition to fullback in the NFL.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5th, 143) - Kadeem Edwards, OG, Tennessee State, 6-4, 313. Needs to be more physical at the point of attack, but has the potential for quick development with long arms and coachable skills.

Detroit Lions (5th, 158) - Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton, 6-2, 305. Potential value pick with interior mauler, who should work effectively when not facing the constant double and triple teams in the Ivy League.

Miami Dolphins (5th, 171) - Jordan Tripp, OLB, Montana, 6-3, 234. Particularly solid against the run, Tripp also had the fastest 20-yard shuttle run (3.96 seconds) at the NFL Scouting Combine since A.J. Hawk in 2006,

Minnesota Vikings (6th, 184) - Kendall James, CB, Maine, 5-10, 180. Maine has been a surprising pipeline to the NFL, and the smaller but ultra-quick cornerback has loose hips and good body control to turn and run with wide receivers.

Miami Dolphins (6th, 190) - Matt Hazel, WR, Coastal Carolina, 6-1, 198. Selection of this strong route runner with sure hands means five of the Big South's nine all-time draft selections are from Coastal Carolina.

Arizona Cardinals (6th, 196) - Walter Powell, WR, Murray State, 5-11, 189. Slot receiver with an elusive style also is an accomplished return specialist. He scored three touchdowns on 35 career punt returns at Murray State.

St. Louis Rams (7th, 226) - Mitchell Van Dyk, OT, Portland State, 6-7, 313. Large frame aids the fast-improving Van Dyk, who moves well and anchored the O- line of a strong rushing attack.

Miami Dolphins (7th, 234) - Terrence Fede, DE, Marist, 6-4, 267. Marist's first-ever draft selection was a first-team FCS All-American in a terrific year for defensive ends last year. He has the body type and tools to be a quick learner out of the non-scholarship Pioneer Football League.

Oakland Raiders (7th, 235) - Shelby Harris, DT, Illinois State, 6-2, 288. A standout as a junior, the former transfer from Wisconsin did not play last year after being kicked off the Illinois State roster for conduct detrimental to the team. Clearly, one of the more surprise picks of the draft.

St. Louis Rams (7th, 250) - Demetrius Rhaney, C, Tennessee State, 6-2, 301. Hard worker who stays in plays to their completion and flashed sub-5.0 times at his pro day.

Cincinnati Bengals (7th, 252) - Lavelle Westbrooks, CB, Georgia Southern, 5-11, 186. Aggressive style with a good football I.Q., Westbrooks comes from a departing FCS program that produces outstanding athletes.

Atlanta Falcons (7th, 255) - Tyler Starr, OLB, South Dakota, 6-4, 250. Two- time Buck Buchanan Award finalist had 27 career sacks - all solos - including 14 as a sophomore in 2011.


Risers - McKinnon (third round), Aikens (fourth), Taliaferro (fourth), Hazel (sixth), Van Dyk (seventh) and Harris (seventh)

Fallers - Reid (fifth), Tripp (fifth) and Delaware nose tackle Zachariah Kerr (undrafted)


The Miami Dolphins finished the 2013 season with six former FCS players on their roster, but they appear ready to increase that number this year.

Five of their eight selections in this year's NFL Draft were from the FCS - the most among all 32 NFL teams.

On Friday, the Dolphins selected Turner from North Dakota State in the third round at No. 67 overall.

On Saturday, they made Liberty's Aikens the first FCS selection of the day at No. 125 in the fourth round.

In the sixth round, they picked Montana's Tripp at No. 171 and Coastal Carolina's Hazel at No. 196.

They then capped their selections with Fede, from Marist, in the seventh round at No. 234.


The improvements made by the Ohio Valley and Big South conferences in the last few years were evident again as the OVC's four selections were the FCS high and the Big South's three tied for the second-most.

Ohio Valley Conference - 4

Big South Conference - 3

Southern Conference - 3

Missouri Valley Football Conference - 3

CAA Football - 2

Big Sky Conference - 2

Ivy League - 1

Pioneer Football League - 1


The announcement of Mr. Irrelevant was hardly finished on Saturday when teams began their attempts to sign undrafted free agents.

Going undrafted can be an advantage for some players because they can pick a team that offers a favorable situation for them.

Some of the top undrafted talent from the FCS: Delaware's Kerr; Montana inside linebacker Brock Coyle; Tennessee State tight end A.C. Leonard; Alabama State running back Isaiah Crowell; Villanova defensive end Rakim Cox; James Madison offensive tackle Josh Wells; Eastern Illinois wide receiver Erik Lora; Sam Houston State running back Timothy Flanders; Cornell quarterback Jeff Mathews; and North Dakota State quarterback Brock Jensen and cornerback Marcus Williams.


Defensive ends Zach Hodges of Harvard and Lynden Trail of Norfolk State are among the top prospects for next year's FCS draft class. is high on a pair of FCS quarterbacks, ranking Eastern Illinois' Andrew Manley at No. 4 and Southeastern Louisiana's Bryan Bennett at No. 8 among senior QBs.

The Missouri Valley Conference also has talent with running backs Zach Zenner of South Dakota State and David Johnson of Northern Iowa as well as Southern Illinois tight end MyCole Pruitt.