NCAA Football

FCS primer for the 2020 NFL Draft


Stats Perform FCS Senior Editor

(Stats Perform) - Former Montana linebacker Dante Olson must be attracted to silver.

After being the 25th recipient of the Stats Perform Buck Buchanan Award, he's seeking to become the 25th winner of an FCS legacy award to be selected in the NFL Draft.

Considered a late-round draft prospect for this week's draft (Thursday night through Saturday), Olson would be Montana's first draft pick since defensive end/linebacker Tyrone Holmes went to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the sixth round in 2016. Olson led the FCS in tackles as a senior last season before winning the Buchanan Award as the national defensive player of the year.

He hopes to join the following list of FCS Awards recipients selected in the NFL Draft (note: Cooper Kupp won both Walter Payton and Jerry Rice awards):

Walter Payton Award - Colgate RB Kenny Gamble (Kansas City Chiefs, 1988, 10th round); Towson RB Dave Meggett (New York Giants, 1989, fifth); Idaho QB John Friesz (San Diego Chargers, 1990, sixth); Grambling State RB Walter Dean (Green Bay Packers, 1991, sixth); Idaho QB Doug Nussmeier (New Orleans Saints, 1994, fourth); Alcorn State QB Steve McNair (Houston Oilers, 1995, first); New Hampshire RB Jerry Azumah (Chicago Bears, 1999, fifth); Georgia Southern RB Adrian Peterson (Chicago Bears, 2002, sixth); Villanova RB Brian Westbrook (Philadelphia Eagles, 2002, third); Appalachian State QB Armanti Edwards (Carolina Panthers, 2010, third); Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo (New England Patriots, 2014, second); Eastern Washington WR Cooper Kupp (Los Angeles Rams, 2017, third)

Buck Buchanan Award - Appalachian State LB Dexter Coakley (Dallas Cowboys, 1997, third); Western Illinois LB Edgerton Hartwell (Baltimore Ravens, 2001, fourth); Bethune-Cookman CB Rashean Mathis (Jacksonville Jaguars, 2003, second); Idaho State DE Jared Allen (Kansas City Chiefs, 2004, fourth); Cal Poly LB Jordan Beck (Atlanta Falcons, 2005, third); Cal Poly LB/DE Chris Gocong (Philadelphia Eagles, 2006, third); Montana DE Kroy Biermann (Atlanta Falcons, 2008, fifth); James Madison DE/LB Arthur Moats (Buffalo Bills, 2010, sixth); North Dakota State DE Kyle Emanuel (San Diego Chargers, 2015, fifth); Montana DE/LB Tyrone Holmes* (Jacksonville Jaguars, 2016, sixth)

* - received Stats Perform FCS Defensive Player of the Year Award

Jerry Rice Award - Towson RB Terrance West (Cleveland Browns, 2014, third); Eastern Washington WR Cooper Kupp (Los Angeles Rams, 2017, third); Fordham RB Chase Edmonds (Arizona Cardinals, 2018, fourth)



About 150-200 FCS rookies usually have NFL opportunities each year. The top-ranked prospects by conference (with possible draft scenario):

Big Sky - Charlie Taumoepeau, TE/FB, Portland State (fifth round); Jonah Williams, DE, Weber State (sixth); Dante Olson, ILB, Montana (sixth); Bryce Sterk, DE, Montana State (Priority Free Agent); Zach Larsen, C, Southern Utah (Free Agent)

Big South - Pete Guerriero, RB, Monmouth (PFA); Bronson Rechsteiner, FB, Kennesaw State (Free Agent)

CAA - Isaiah Coulter, WR, Rhode Island (fifth); Ron'Dell Carter, DE, James Madison (sixth-seventh); Kyle Murphy, OG, Rhode Island (seventh); Aaron Parker, WR, Rhode Island (seventh-PFA); Manny Patterson, CB, Maine (seventh-PFA); Tom Flacco, QB/ATH, Towson (PFA); Albany OLB Eli Mencer (PFA)

Ivy - Kevin Davidson, QB, Princeton (sixth-seventh); Isiah Swann, CB, Dartmouth (PFA)

MEAC - Alex Taylor, OT, South Carolina State (fourth-sixth); Elijah Bell, WR, North Carolina A&T (PFA); Manasseh Bailey, WR, Morgan State (FA)

Missouri Valley - Jeremy Chinn, SS, Southern Illinois (second); James Robinson, RB, Illinois State (fifth-sixth); Derrek Tuszka, DE, North Dakota State (fifth-sixth); Luther Kirk, SS, Illinois State (seventh-PFA); Christian Rozeboom, ILB, South Dakota State (seventh-PFA); Madre Harper, CB, Southern Illinois (seventh-PFA); Ben Ellefson, TE, North Dakota State (PFA)

Northeast - Cam Gill, OLB, Wagner (seventh-PFA); Reid Harrison-Ducros, CB, Duquesne (PFA); Chris Williams, DT, Wagner (PFA)

Ohio Valley - Josh Pearson, WR, Jacksonville State (seventh); Chris Rowland, WR, Tennessee State (seventh-PFA); Aaron Patrick, DE/OLB, Eastern Kentucky (PFA); Dajour Nesbeth, CB, Tennessee State (PFA)

Patriot - Alex Pechin, P, Bucknell (PFA); Abu Daramy-Swaray, CB, Colgate (FA)

Pioneer - Adam Trautman, TE, Dayton (second-third); Reid Sinnett, QB, San Diego (FA)

Southern - Nasir Player, DE, ETSU (PFA); Nick Tiano, QB, Chattanooga (PFA)

Southland - Xavier Lewis, CB, Southeastern Louisiana (PFA); Sully Laiche, DE, Nicholls (FA)

SWAC - Jalen Morton, QB, Prairie View A&M (PFA); Joe McWilliams, CB, Grambling State (FA)



The draft will have combined coverage between ESPN/ABC and NFL Network with ESPN Deportes also airing a broadcast. ESPN Radio will handle the radio broadcast (times are ET).

Thursday, April 23: Round 1 from 8-11:30 p.m. - Teams are given 10 minutes to make their selection.

Friday, April 24: Round 2 and 3 from 7-11:30 p.m. - Teams are given seven minutes to make their selection in Round 2, five minutes in Round 3.

Saturday, April 25: Rounds 4 to 7 from noon-7 p.m. - Teams are given five minutes to make their selection in Rounds 4-6, four minutes in Round 7.



Chinn (Southern Illinois) and Trautman (Dayton) are the only FCS players being consistently ranked for the first two days of the draft. … There were 177 FCS players drafted during the 2010s, nearly 18 per year. Cornerback (34) was by far the most drafted position from FCS schools followed by offensive tackle (19) and outside linebacker (17). … North Carolina A&T is the only FCS program with a player taken in each of the past three drafts: 2017, running back Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears (fourth round, No. 119 overall); 2018, offensive tackle Brandon Parker, Oakland Raiders (third, 65); and 2019, defensive end Darryl Johnson Jr., Buffalo Bills (seventh, 225). … The highest FCS selection in draft history was North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz, picked second overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2016.

Updated April 22, 2020