Saturdays Are For The Scouts – Top Non-FBS 2021 NFL Draft Prospects

by Selyan Lonqueux
2022 NFL Draft Quarterback Class

Welcome to the next entry in my scouting notebook I call, Saturdays Are For the Scouts – Top Non-FBS 2021 NFL Draft Prospects.

In honor of the FCS Football season kicking off this weekend, I want to go through my favorite non-FBS prospects entering the 2021 NFL Draft. We'll be looking at some FCS talent along with a D3 that has seen his stock rise into early Day 2 conversations.

I'll omit the Trey Lance breakdown for now. I'll provide a deep dive into his profile when we get to the Quarterback entry.

I also feature my favorite matchup in the first full weekend of FCS Spring Football. You'll find five prospects with draftable potential to keep an eye on!

You'll find my full positional rankings, big board and all my scouting reports in the 2021 NFL Draft Scouting Portfolio, released mid-April. The pre-order form is tagged at the bottom of the article.

Click here to read last week's SAFTS - 2021 NFL Draft RBs!

Saturdays Are For The Scouts - Top Non-FBS 2021 NFL Draft Prospects

Top 10 Non-FBS NFL Draft Prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft

  1. Trey Lance - QB - North Dakota State
  2. Spencer Brown - OT - Northern Iowa
  3. Quinn Meinerz - IOL - Wisconsin-Whitewater
  4. Cade Johnson - WR - South Dakota State
  5. Dillon Radunz - OT - North Dakota State
  6. Elerson Smith - EDGE - Northern Iowa
  7. David Moore - IOL - Grambling
  8. Bryan Mills - CB - North Carolina Central
  9. Zach Davidson - TE - Central Missouri
  10. Brady Davis - QB - Illinois State

Spencer Brown - OT - Northern Iowa

Let's start with this: you're not going to find tackle prospects like Spencer Brown every year. The former Panther stands at a verified 6 foot 8.5 inches, with 34-inch arms and a wingspan over 82 inches. Spencer Brown looks like your ideal edge protector.

While he's a tall prospect, Brown shows a ton of flexibility and bend to match up against the squattier pass rushers he faced in 2019. He's super agile with impressive foot quickness to mirror and slide with rushers changing directions. Brown's kick slide up his sets is quick and smooth, his feet are super impressive when paired with his stature. He plays with good body control and weight distribution up his sets allowing him to maintain balance when contact is made.

As a pass protector, he does a terrific job using his physical traits to recover when beat. In the run game, Brown plays with an aggressive temperament and has some impressive finishes on film. His explosiveness out of his stance and athleticism as a former tight end/defensive end make him a suitable target for a team with a zone-heavy scheme.

Brown started at right tackle for the UNI Panthers, but with his length and footwork, he has all the traits you want in an NFL left tackle. He weighed in at 314 pounds in Mobile and looks absolutely rocked up. His frame can afford to take on more weight and look good with it, which would benefit his ability to anchor better against power.

Overall, I believe we could hear Spencer Brown's name called in the back-half of round one. We've seen it happen with high-upside subdivision prospects before. And Spencer Brown's potential at a critical position like left tackle definitely warrants that sort of draft capital.

Quinn Meinerz - IOL - Wisconsin-Whitewater

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The average football fan may not have heard about the mauler out of D-III, but let me tell you...his name has been in every draft circle for the past three weeks. And rightfully so.

In a similar fashion to what Ali Marpet did in Mobile in 2015, Meinerz stole the show against FBS competition. On his way to Offensive Lineman of the week honors, Quinn Meinerz took his stock from a R7/PFA grade up into top-100, maybe even top-64 conversation.

You expect NFL players to stand out within 2-3 reps when turning on Division 3 film and that's exactly what Meinerz does. Meinerz is a mauler with a nasty temperament in the run game. His upper body strength is ridiculous, and he generates legitimate knock-back power with his strikes.

In his 2019 film, it's quite clear that Meinerz's technique has room to grow as he finds ways to win by overpowering his competition. But his technique looked much better in Mobile. He was able to anchor and mirror with good lateral movement and showed more ability to latch on to blocks in both facets of the game.

Overall, Meinerz truly looks like a top-100 pick. He's a blue-collar worker in the trenches with a significant mean streak. Gap/Power heavy teams will love his profile. He's versatile, showing a ton of success at center during the Senior Bowl week, without any prior experience at UWW. Oh, and he also made this gem.

Cade Johnson - WR - South Dakota State

Cade Johnson is a shifty slot wide receiver with great fluidity and reliable hands. He raised his stock a ton at the Senior Bowl and could be hearing his name called between rounds three and five of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Johnson excelled during one on one reps during the week, proving what he did to FCS secondaries could be replicated against higher competition. Johnson had a great game against Minnesota in 2019 and showed it was no fluke in Mobile.

He's an instinctive route runner with great acceleration out of his breaks. He's sure-handed with explosiveness after the catch. There's a lot of talented slot options in this year's WR class, and Cade Johnson should be mentioned among the best of them.

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Dillon Radunz - OT - North Dakota State

Many scouts still see Radunz as the top non-QB FCS prospect and a potential first-round pick. He's athletic with smooth feet and a frame to continue growing into.

His best efforts come in the run game as a down blocker and climbing to the second level. Radunz is flexible with good power generated from his hips. His anchor in pass pro could stand to improve.

Radunz showed steady improvements in technique and performance as the Senior Bowl practice week went on, which is always a good sign and something NFL scouts look for. I think he's a solid day two prospect with the potential to perform at left tackle and a high-upside option of kicking inside to guard, where his run blocking feistiness can really shine.

Elerson Smith - EDGE - Northern Iowa

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Smith is a tall, long edge rusher that really looks the part as an NFL defensive end (verified 6'6 1/2", 83" wingspan). He weighed in at 260 lbs in Mobile, after being listed at 240+ during the 2019 season.

I watched him last spring and wrote down "gets moved too often at the point of attack". Let's just say that concern has really died down after his week in Mobile.

He's an explosive, high-motor athlete with high-level flexibility and bend. He showed some versatility in the Senior Bowl by playing as an interior pass rusher. His traits will make it hard for teams to let him slide past the fourth/fifth round.

Game To Watch - 2022 NFL Draft Scouting

Youngstown State @ North Dakota State -  Sunday 3:30pm ET

NFL prospects to keep an eye on:

  • #67 Cordell Volson - LT - NDSU
  • #1 Zaire Jones - S - Youngstown State
  • #1 Christian Watson - WR - NDSU
  • #77 Dan Becker - OT - Youngstown State
  • #25 Michael Tutsie - DB - NDSU

The Bison are returning a lot of talent on the offensive side of the football, despite the departure of Trey Lance and Dillon Radunz.

Zeb Noland is expected to start at QB, behind a talented offensive line, headlined by Cordell Volson. Volson is expected to move from Right Tackle over to the left side to replace Radunz.

Out wide, Christian Watson is a smooth, fluid vertical threat with nice ball skills and instincts.  On the defensive side of the ball, Michael Tutsie is intriguing. He's only 5-9, 194 lbs but has nice instincts and range on the back end. He's a physical tackler as well.

Zaire Jones is the leader in the secondary for the Penguins. He's a plus athlete with length, good ball skills in coverage and looks smooth in transitions. Jones also offers good physicality in run support. On offense, offensive tackle Dan Becker has the most experience on the offensive line. He's a tall athlete with room to add more weight to his frame.

Saturdays Are For The Scouts

I'll be back next week with more profiles!

You can find me on Instagram for more film breakdown and analysis.

Back to the film room!

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1 comment

2021 NFL Draft Offensive Line Preview - Fantasy Six Pack March 28, 2021 - 7:00 am

[…] Read about my thoughts on Spencer Brown. […]


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