How often do NFL teams go to the FCS well?
By CRAIG HALEY
(STATS) - Analysts from ESPN.com and NFL.com have the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles picking South Dakota State tight end Dallas Goedert in their mock drafts.
Just two years ago, the Eagles hit the FCS jackpot by selecting North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz with the second overall in the first round. The 2017 Pro Bowler surely would love to team up with a fellow player from the Missouri Valley Football Conference school (NDSU and SDSU happen to be rivals, too).
Given Wentz's success, the Eagles must often go for the value offered by the so-called "small school" players in the FCS.
It's not the case, though. In the last seven years, Wentz is the Eagles' only draft pick from the FCS.
An average of 18 players are drafted each year from the subdivision, but how often NFL teams go to the well is a year-by-year, pick-by-pick basis.
That scenario may be best depicted with the Miami Dolphins. In 2014, they went fishing for five FCS players out of eight draft selections. The last three years? Zero FCS draft selections.
The Baltimore Ravens, behind former Delaware quarterback Joe Flacco, love FCS players as much as any team. But after picking nine in a four-year span from 2012-15, they have gone two straight years without taking one in the draft.
The Arizona Cardinals have picked at least one FCS player in the last six drafts, while the Washington Redskins have gone five straight years without taking one.
No rhyme or reason, indeed.
Sometimes the FCS selections pay off, such as Samford cornerback James Bradberry (Carolina Panthers) alongside Wentz in 2016 or Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp (Los Angeles Rams) or North Carolina A&T running back Tarik Cohen (Chicago Bears) last year. Sometimes the players are barely heard from again.
But NFL teams are out to pick the best players regardless of their college, so FCS players are always in play if deemed strong enough.
Updated April 9, 2018