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Jaguars' draft heavy on the FCS

By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The Jacksonville Jaguars play in the AFC South, but they seem to be stockpiling players like it's the FCS South. They're getting close to being able to field an FCS all-star team.

Four of the Jaguars' six selections in the 2010 NFL Draft were from FCS schools, defensive ends Larry Hart of Central Arkansas and Austen Lane of Murray State, running back Deji Karim of Southern Illinois and return specialist Scotty McGee of James Madison.

The quartet adds to the 13 former FCS players on the Jaguars' roster, including seven starters, center Brad Meester (Northern Iowa), fullback Montell Owens (Maine), linebacker Justin Durant (Hampton), cornerbacks Rashean Mathis (Bethune-Cookman) and Derek Cox (William & Mary), kick returner Rashad Jennings (Liberty) and long snapper Jeremy Cain (Massachusetts).

In a deep 2010 draft, the FCS played a solid role with 19 selections (up four from last year) by 13 teams. As expected, UMass offensive tackle Vladimir Ducasse was the first selection, going to the New York Jets in the second round with the 61st overall pick. He is expected to battle for a starting job at guard. The Detroit Lions made Weber State wide receiver Tim Toone the final pick of the draft, giving the seventh-round pick the "Mr. Irrelevant" moniker that gets bestowed on the last selection.

Toone will work to overcome that dubious honor. Similarly, the Jaguars already know that FCS players usually come into the NFL with a hunger to win over any small-school doubters. With this year's selections, the Jaguars called on Central Arkansas, Murray State and James Madison for the first time. Karim, a finalist for the 2009 Walter Payton Award and a first-team All-American selection by The Sports Network, was the Jaguars' second all-time selection from Southern Illinois, as they took tight end Damon Jones in the fifth round of the 1997 draft.

Karim, picked 180th in the sixth round, summed up the FCS mentality by saying after his selection, "It's been my dream since I was a little kid. This is a stepping-stone to what I want to get accomplished."

At 5-foot-8, 209 pounds, Karim bears resemblance to Jaguars Pro Bowl running back Maurice Jones-Drew. Karim, who attended middle school and high school with No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford of the St. Louis Rams, had a breakout senior season by rushing for 1,694 yards (on 7.1 yards per carry) and 18 touchdowns. The Jaguars envision him returning kickoffs in addition to competing for a backup running back spot.

The Jaguars have completely retooled their defensive line in the last two seasons and are encouraged about the upside of fifth-round picks Hart (143rd overall) and Lane (153rd). The 6-0 3/4, 239-pound Hart is relentless in pursuit of quarterbacks, evidenced by 4.6-second speed in the 40-yard dash. The two-time Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Year had 12 sacks as a senior. Lane, much bigger at 6-6, 276 pounds, is considered more of a run- stopper, although he had 11 sacks as a senior and 29 in his career.

In McGee, the Jaguars received an accomplished returner, who in his career at James Madison returned three kickoffs and three punt returns for touchdowns. With 4.3-second speed, JMU head coach Mickey Matthews called McGee the most electrifying player in program history.

AROUND THE DRAFT WITH THE FCS

Surprise, surprise. All the concern that Appalachian State's Armanti Edwards had to switch from his natural quarterback position to wide receiver in the NFL didn't stop the Carolina Panthers from reaching across the state to grab the only two-time Walter Payton Award winner with the 89th overall pick in the third round.

The biggest surprise among FCS players might have been Eastern Illinois guard Otis Hudson going in the fifth round to the Cincinnati Bengals (152nd). The 6-5, 312-pounder has raw ability and the Bengals believe they can harness it.

The most widely selected position among FCS players was defensive end with five: Hart and Lane to the Jaguars; Buck Buchanan Award winner Arthur Moats of James Madison to the Buffalo Bills in the sixth round (178th); Adrian Tracy of William & Mary to the New York Giants in the sixth round (184th); and Danny Batten of South Dakota State to the Bills in the sixth round (192nd). There were four wide receivers taken, with The Citadel's Andre Roberts (Arizona Cardinals, third, 88th) and Montana's Marc Mariana (Tennessee Titans, seventh, 222nd) joining Edwards and Toone.

Discounting Edwards, who will play wide receiver but is made to run the Wildcat, the only quarterback selected was Fordham's John Skelton, who went in the fifth round to the Arizona Cardinals (155th). The strong-armed Skelton rose quickly in the eyes of scouts and has excellent size at 6-6, 245.

2010 FCS DRAFT CHOICES

New York Jets (2nd round, 61st choice) - Vladimir Ducasse, OT, Massachusetts
Arizona Cardinals (3rd,88) - Andre Roberts, WR, The Citadel
Carolina Panthers (3rd, 89) - Armanti Edwards, QB, Appalachian State
Philadelphia Eagles (4th, 125) - Clay Harbor, TE, Missouri State
Jacksonville Jaguars (5th, 143) - Larry Hart, DE, Central Arkansas
Cincinnati Bengals (5th, 152) - Otis Hudson, OG, Eastern Illinois
Jacksonville Jaguars (5th, 153) - Austin Lane, DE, Murray State
Arizona Cardinals (5th, 155) - John Skelton, QB, Fordham
Atlanta Falcons (6th, 171) - Shann Schillinger, S, Montana
Buffalo Bills (6th, 178) - Arthur Moats, DE, James Madison
Jacksonville Jaguars (6th, 180) - Deji Karim, RB, Southern Illinois
New York Giants (6th, 184) - Adrian Tracy, DE, William & Mary
Buffalo Bills (6th, 192) - Danny Batten, DE, South Dakota State
Jacksonville Jaguars (6th, 203) - Scotty McGee, KR, James Madison
Tennessee Titans (7th, 222) - Marc Mariani, WR, Montana
San Francisco 49ers (7th, 224) - Phillip Adams, DB, South Carolina State
Dallas Cowboys (7th, 234) - Sean Lissemore, DT, William & Mary
Tennessee Titans (7th, 241) - David Howard, DT, Brown
Detroit Lions (7th, 255) - Tim Toone, WR, Weber State

UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS ARE SIGNING

Not getting selected in the draft allows players to sign with a team that offers the best fit. TSN First Team All-Americans who have signed or come to terms as undrafted free agents include North Dakota State running back Pat Paschall (New York Jets), Elon wide receiver Terrell Hudgins (Dallas Cowboys), Massachusetts strong safety Jeromy Miles (Cincinnati Bengals) and Florida A&M cornerback/kick returner LeRoy Vann. Among quarterbacks, third-team All- Americans Ryan Perrilloux (Jacksonville State) and Dominic Randolph (Holy Cross) went to the Minnesota Vikings and the Jets, respectively.

Sacks or scores, contact Craig Haley at
chaley@sportsnetwork.com.

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