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2023 NFL Draft: Top 10 prospects from FCS schools

WCG’s Lead Draft Analyst looks at his top 10 prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft to come from FCS schools.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 04 Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

If you don’t find something fun about watching a small-school prospect succeed in the NFL, you may need to check your pulse.

The Bears had 7 players on their roster last year who finished their collegiate careers at the FCS level. Two of their picks from the 2022 draft — Braxton Jones and Ja’Tyre Carter — both came from FCS schools. Since 1978, there have been 8 players to play at the FCS level to make it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including the likes of Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Richard Dent.

To entirely avoid small-school prospects because of arguments surrounding their competition is incredibly short-sighted, and there have been several stars to come out of the FCS ranks.

One of my favorite parts of the pre-draft process is digging for diamonds in the rough, so I’ve gone through to watch several prospects outside of not just the Power 5, but the FBS in general. These rankings may change slightly in the next few months, but for now, here are my top 10 FCS prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft.

1. Cody Mauch, OG, North Dakota State

Mauch first stood out to me over the summer, and he managed to build upon his game to truly solidify himself as one of the top offensive linemen in the class. I have him kicking inside in the pros, where a combination of athleticism, play strength and tenacity gives him a high ceiling while shielding his lack of length.

Grade: Round 2

2. Tucker Kraft, TE, South Dakota State

I’m excited to see how Kraft tests at the Combine, as I feel like he’s one of the best tight ends in the 2023 draft despite not being talked about a ton. He’s a fluid athlete with good vertical speed and reliable hands, and while he isn’t the most physical player out there, he’s a solid all-arounder who doesn’t have too many glaring weaknesses in his game.

Grade: Round 3

3. Andrei Iosivas, WR, Princeton

Iosivas is raw, and he didn’t have the Senior Bowl performance I was hoping from him, but his tools are top-notch. He has great length at the wide receiver position with impressive deep speed and the sheer acceleration needed to burn defensive backs vertically. The size, athleticism and ball skills he possesses make him as intriguing of a developmental receiver as there is in this class.

Grade: Round 4

4. Mark Evans, OG, Arkansas Pine-Bluff

My top HBCU prospect in the 2023 class, Evans displays the athleticism and body control on film that should translate very well to Combine testing. He’s a coordinated blocker with fluid hips, good footwork and great lateral agility. A lack of top-notch length and raw power will likely kick him inside at the next level, where I love his fit in a wide-zone scheme.

Grade: Round 5

5. Hunter Luepke, FB, North Dakota State

If you don’t feel alive watching Luepke play, don’t even bother checking your pulse. You are dead. He’s a very good athlete who should instantly contribute as a pass-catcher at a high level, and he’s a solid lead blocker with the acceleration to the second level and the tenacity to get drafted at some point on Day 3.

Grade: Round 5-6

6. McClendon Curtis, OG, Chattanooga

A year after Chattanooga produced first-rounder Cole Strange, the Mocs have another future NFL offensive lineman who should get drafted this year in Curtis. He’s a powerful run blocker who is coordinated for a big man, and while he doesn’t seem to have elite speed or agility, he has control over his movements and blocks with a determined edge.

Grade: Round 5-6

7. Colby Sorsdal, OT, William & Mary

Sorsdal is a five-year starter at the collegiate level who finished as PFF’s second-best offensive lineman in the FCS behind Cody Mauch. The William & Mary product is a plus athlete with good agility in pass protection and above-average play strength. Though a work in progress from a technical and flexibility perspective, he could be a nice depth option with some guard versatility.

Grade: Round 5-6

8. Aubrey Miller Jr., LB, Jackson State

I don’t think Miller gets drafted super early because of a lack of top-notch measurements and athleticism. However, he’s an intelligent processor and a super consistent tackler who plays with a high motor that sees him constantly around the ball. Teams looking for special teams value and tackling production in bulk would be wise to look his way.

Grade: Round 7-UDFA

9. Marte Mapu, LB/S, Sacramento State

Versatility is the name of the game for Mapu, an NFLPA Collegiate Bowl standout who earned a last-minute invitation to the Senior Bowl. He can play up high and in the box, and he’s a hard-hitter who plays with a high motor and impressive closing speed against the run. He should be a quality special teamer who can show up every once in a while in subpackages.

Grade: Round 7-UDFA

10. Isaiah Land, EDGE/LB, Florida A&M

Land’s collegiate production speaks for itself: he had 19 sacks and 25.5 tackles for a loss in 2021, and he added on 7 more sacks with even more attention drawn towards him in 2022. He’s undersized and could therefore transition to an off-ball linebacker role, but he’s super quick off the snap, has unreal flexibility and plays with a high motor. His pass-rushing value could make him a sneaky good chess piece for a defensive unit.

Grade: Round 7-UDFA