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UPDATED: FCS Offensive Draft Possibilities

By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Former Eastern Washington running back Taiwan Jones probably would not mind running behind a line composed of the Football Championship Subdivision's top offensive prospects for the 2011 NFL Draft.

It's a solid year for the big men, most of whom were offensive tackles in college but are expected to convert to the guard position in the NFL. Villanova's Ben Ijalana and Lehigh's Will Rackley are longtime college standouts who project into NFL starters, while Appalachian State center Daniel Kilgore and guards David Arkin of Missouri State, Kevin Hughes of Southeastern Louisiana and Mike Person of Montana State are similar in size and share the same hopes of being more than NFL backups.

As for Jones, he's the most NFL-ready player in the skills positions. But he battled an assortment of injuries at Eastern Washington before deciding to enter the draft as a junior.

Following are capsules of the top FCS offensive draft possibilities for April 28-30:

Villanova OL Ben Ijalana will be the top NFL Draft selection among FCS players.
Ben Ijalana, OT/OG, Villanova, 6-3, 317

Projected Round: Second

The lowdown: Slightly small by the NFL standard for tackles, Ijalana is expected to make the move to guard. He has long arms, large hands and a relentless style of play, so he should adjust quite well. He also has many of the necessary tools - good foot movement, agility, power, technique - and is quite durable and experienced, having never missed a start in his 53-game college career. He's physical at the point of attack and sustains his blocks. He's a better pass blocker than run blocker and needs to improve his blocking against athletic defensive linemen. The two-time first-team All-America didn't participate in drills at the NFL Combine because of a sports hernia. Ijalana is compared to another former CAA Football lineman, Vladimir Ducasse, whom the New York Jets selected in the second round last year out of Massachusetts. Ijalana didn't redshirt in at Villanova and is only 21.

Taiwan Jones, RB, Eastern Washington, 6-0, 195

Projected Round: Third/Fourth

The lowdown: A breakaway runner who is entering the NFL Draft as a junior, Jones also is injury prone. No injury was more costly for him than the broken left foot he suffered this past season in the FCS quarterfinals, which caused him to miss Eastern Washington's games in the national semifinals and final. Otherwise, what's not to like about him? Over the last two seasons, he rushed for nearly 3,000 yards on over 7.7 yards per carry. Despite his size, he's productive on runs between the tackles. He can catch passes (64 receptions in the last two seasons), but will need to bulk up to be a pass blocker. He has a tendency to run upright, which makes him susceptible to hard hits. If he can stay relatively free of injuries, he projects to be a productive change-of- pace back and return man.

Plagued by injuries, Eastern Washington RB Taiwan Jones is a dynamic runner.
Will Rackley, OG, Lehigh, 6-3 1/2, 308

Projected Round: Third/Fourth

The lowdown: The three-time All-Patriot League first-team selection as a tackle is expected to be converted to guard in the NFL. Built with massive thighs, he uses his strength wisely and keeps his legs moving through blocks. He can get to blocks at the second level, but his footwork needs improvement. His pass blocking is a strength. The biggest criticism among scouts is Rackley's technique can be overly stiff. A hip flexor kept him out of the running at the NFL Combine, but he already had raised his stock during East- West Shrine Game practices.

Daniel Kilgore, C/OG, Appalachian State, 6-3, 308

Projected Round: Fifth/Sixth

The lowdown: Kilgore's stock has risen considerably since the start of his senior season, when he was overshadowed by other players on a talent-laden roster. The slender-looking prospect, a former tight end, helped his status at the NFLPA All-Star Game (formerly Texas versus The Nation), where his athleticism was on display. Although solid in many ways, he has to improve his strength. Despite not receiving the publicity of other App State players, the fiery Kilgore is expected to be the first one taken in the draft.

Julius Thomas, TE, Portland State, 6-4 1/2, 250

Projected Round: Fifth/Sixth

The lowdown: This time last year, no scout was paying attention to Thomas because he was finishing up a basketball career at Portland State and just embarking on a football career. He flashed enough late-developing skill as a senior - 29 receptions for 453 yards and two touchdowns - that his upside now shines brighter than his resume. He's athletic with good hands and often too fast for linebackers. Considering he is raw, however, a team might have to wait on him while he polishes his skills.

Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware, 6-3, 225

Projected Round: Fifth/Sixth

The lowdown: Devlin is lauded for his mental aptitude, as evidenced by the way he directs an offense with efficiency. However, his inability to lift his game against Eastern Washington in the FCS Championship Game, followed by a subpar week at the East-West Shrine Game (when he looked uncomfortable against the better competition), has taken shine off his stock. He reads defenses well and is an extremely accurate passer, but has only marginal arm strength. That he is not the next Joe Flacco out of Delaware is a label that is plaguing him.

David Arkin, OG, Missouri State, 6-5, 300

Projected Round: Fifth-Sixth

The lowdown: Especially strong in coming off the ball as a run blocker, Arkin relies on quickness and agility. An honors student who graduated in December with a 3.72 grade point average, he will be helped in the NFL by his intelligence. He never missed a start in his 44-game career and played three seasons at guard before switching to left tackle as a senior. He had a physical style for the Missouri Valley Football Conference, but will have to show it translates against bigger defensive linemen.

Daniel Kilgore, C/OG, Appalachian State, 6-3, 308

Projected Round: Sixth

The lowdown: Kilgore's stock has risen considerably since the start of his senior season, when he was overshadowed by other players on a talent-laden roster. The slender-looking prospect, a former tight end, helped his status at the NFLPA All-Star Game (formerly Texas versus The Nation), where his athleticism was on display. Although solid in many ways, he has to improve his strength. Lacking the publicity of other App State players, the fiery Kilgore could be a find.

Kevin Hughes, OG, Southeastern Louisiana, 6-4, 302

Projected Round: Seventh/Free Agent

The lowdown: A late-bloomer who in high school was displaced by Hurricane Katrina, Hughes is expected to convert to the inside from tackle, where he won't be exposed by the quicker ends of the NFL. He's still raw, but athletic and strong, showing versatility in both pass and run blocking. In the Southland Conference, he didn't face the elite competition of the FCS, so the NFL will be a huge jump in competition.

Schuylar Oordt, TE, Northern Iowa, 6-5 1/2, 261

Projected Round: Seventh/Undrafted Free Agent

The lowdown: Oordt's size is excellent, but he needs to improve as a pass blocker (at Northern Iowa, he often flexed out in the slot as part of the West Coast offense). He is an excellent pass catcher and has good speed for a tight end (4.67 seconds in the 40-yard dash; 6.83 in the three-cone drill), which helps him to elude linebackers. Oordt is older than most draft prospects as he will turn 24 in May.

Mike Person, OG, Montana State, 6-5, 299

Projected Round: Seventh/Undrafted Free Agent

The lowdown: During his FCS career, Person simply outworked defensive linemen, both physically and mentally. A mobile player, he didn't allow a sack as a senior and is even better as a run blocker. However, he doesn't have the bulk off most NFL offensive linemen and will have trouble blocking bull rushers. If he goes undrafted, he will be coveted as a priority free agent.

Other Key FCS Hopefuls: Lito Senatus, WR, Western Illinois, 6-2, 200; Courtney Smith, WR, South Alabama, 6-4, 220; Tysson Poots, WR/H-Back, Southern Utah, 6-2, 220; Dominique Johnson, WR, Cal Poly, 6-3, 230; Stephen Skelton, TE, Fordham, 6-5, 250; Raymond Webber, WR, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 6-2, 220; Marcus Harris, WR, Murray State, 6-1, 190; Kyle Havens, QB, Massachusetts, 6-3, 220; Curt Porter, OG, Jacksonville State, 6-7, 310

BEST NFL OFFENSIVE PROSPECT BY FCS CONFERENCE

Big Sky: Taiwan Jones, RB, Eastern Washington, 6-0, 195

Big South: Corey O'Daniel, OG, Gardner-Webb, 6-6, 335

CAA Football: Ben Ijalana, OT/OG, Villanova, 6-3 1/2, 317

Great West: Tysson Poots, WR/H-Back, Southern Utah, 6-2, 220

Ivy League: Chris Blohm, TE, Yale, 6-3 1/2, 260

MEAC: Johnny Culbreath, OT/OG, South Carolina State, 6-5, 322

Missouri Valley: David Arkin, OG, Missouri State, 6-5, 300

Northeast Conference: Corey Konycki, OG, Robert Morris, 6-3, 315

Ohio Valley Conference: Curt Porter, OG, Jacksonville State, 6-7, 310

Patriot League: Will Rackley, OG, Lehigh, 6-3 1/2, 308

Pioneer Football League: Rudell Small, RB, Jacksonville, 5-10, 205

Southern Conference: Daniel Kilgore, C/OG, Appalachian State, 6-3, 308

Southland Conference: Kevin Hughes, OG, Southeastern Louisiana, 6-4, 302

SWAC: Raymond Webber, WR, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 6-2, 220

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


Follow Craig Haley on Twitter and Facebook.

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