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In the FCS Huddle: NFL to keep close eye on FCS standouts

<p>North Dakota State senior cornerback Marcus Williams is a bit of an exception among 2014 NFL Draft prospects from the FCS.</p>

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - North Dakota State senior cornerback Marcus Williams is a bit of an exception among 2014 NFL Draft prospects from the FCS.

He's been front and center, making game-changing plays regularly, during the Bison's drive to two straight FCS national titles.

But while he's had numerous opportunities to showcase his skills in big games - and is considered a possible draft choice - others haven't had the same spotlight. In fact, the names and schools of many of this year's top FCS prospects could sneak up on fans because many didn't play for a team that finished with a winning record last season.

Scouts won't mind. They look at the skills and measurables of players even more than their individual statistics and team's record.

In any given year, FCS teams produce about 15-20 draft choices.

Among this year's prospects are defensive linemen Zach Kerr of Delaware and Caraun Reid of Princeton. Kerr, who began his career at Maryland before running into academic ineligibility, has the size (6-foot-1, 310 pounds) and work ethic of a classic nose tackle. Reid is a fast riser, too, with terrific speed (4.88 in the 40-yard dash) to go with his 6-2, 305-pound frame.

The top prospects at linebacker are big as well, with Montana's Jordan Tripp going 6-3 1/2, 235 pounds and South Dakota's Tyler Starr at 6-4, 240. Both are adept at getting into opposing backfields and figure to be outside linebackers.

Safety Julien David of Howard and cornerbacks Jordan Love of Towson and Todd Washington of Southeastern Louisiana are on draft boards. Washington would be following teammate Robert Alford to the NFL after the latter was the top FCS selection this past April, taken by the Atlanta Falcons in the second round.

Among offensive players, the top quarterback prospect figures to be Jeff Mathews of Cornell. Heading into his fourth season as a starter, he has 6-4 size and does a good job sensing pressure and moving around in the pocket.

Also among the skills position players are wide receivers Tony Washington of Appalachian State and Walter Powell of Murray State and Georgia Southern quarterback Jerick McKinnon, an option-style signal caller who will convert to running back at the next level.

Other FCS prospects include offensive linemen, who always factor in a lot come the draft. They include Dakota Dozier (6-3, 302) of Furman, Danny Kistler (6-7, 315) of Montana and Billy Turner (6-5, 310), Williams' teammate on two-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State.

Is it too early to be looking at the NFL Draft next May? Not if you look at the draft boards.

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