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Stan Becton | December 26, 2021

9 players in the FCS playoffs we’ll see on Sundays

Pierre Strong Jr. rushes for 185, throws TD in South Dakota State's first round win

The FCS playoffs have reached the second round and the teams still standing are full of talented players, some of whom have what it takes to play professionally. With an FCS player on almost every NFL roster this year, there's bound to be a new crop of players joining them after the season.

Here are just some of the players who'll play in the second round of the FCS playoffs that will make NFL rosters down the road.

9 players in the FCS playoffs we'll see on Sundays

Pierre Strong Jr. | South Dakota State

Pierre Strong Jr. has been dominant running the ball throughout his career at South Dakota State. He has three 1000-yard rushing seasons under his belt en route to multiple All-American honors. Strong can run through opposing defenders or around them and is as consistent as they come. 

While he doesn't have spectacular receiving stats, don't let the numbers fool you; Strong has split out wide in certain packages, displaying a versatility that NFL teams love in running backs. Strong's resume in the FCS speaks for itself and he'll likely hear his name called in this year's NFL Draft.

PLAYOFFS: Keep up with scores and updates from the 2021 FCS playoffs

Christian Watson | North Dakota State

At 6'5'' 208 pounds, Christian Watson already has a frame that NFL teams covet. Watson also has the big-play ability that scouts love. In a run-centric offense, Watson has seven receiving touchdowns this year, with scores of 65, 67, 71 and 85 yards. Watson also returns kicks, adding another element to his game that will impress at the next level.

Cordell Volson | North Dakota State

Cordell Volson should be the next North Dakota State offensive lineman in the NFL come next fall, following the footsteps of 2021 second-round pick Dillon Radunz. Volson has shown the ability to play across the offensive line at North Dakota State, playing guard and tackle, but he projects as a right tackle at the next level. At 6'7'' Volson is a powerful blocker that often finishes plays. He has a great chance to make it four Bison offensive linemen in the NFL.

Zyon McCollum | Sam Houston

Zyon McCollum has a huge frame at cornerback at 6'4'' 200 pounds and he has the big plays to go with it. McCollum has been one of the most consistent cornerbacks in the FCS since starting 10 games as a true freshman in 2017. 

The All-American not only shuts down opposing wideouts, also making plays on the ball, demonstrated by his 13 career interceptions and 53 career pass breakups. With size, ball skills and experience, expect to hear McCollum's name in the NFL soon.

REPEAT: 5 reasons why Sam Houston can go back-to-back

Jequez Ezzard | Sam Houston

There are never too many slot receivers in the NFL and Jequez Ezzard fits the professional mold. Since arriving at Sam Houston last year, Ezzard has been electric, scoring 17 total touchdowns in 18 games. 

Despite Ezzard standing no taller than 5'10'', he isn't small in size, weighing a solid 195 pounds. Add in Ezzard's rumored 40-yard dash time that is expected to be in the high 4.3-low 4.4 range and the Sam Houston wideout should find his way on an NFL roster.

Cole Kelley | Southeastern Louisiana

From his 6'7'' 260 pound stature alone, Cole Kelley draws NFL eyes. If that's not good enough, the former Arkansas quarterback has eye-popping numbers that are sure to catch your attention. At Southeastern Louisiana, Kelley has thrown for more than 7000 yards and almost 60 touchdowns, completing 72 percent of his passes. He's also displayed dual-threat ability, rushing for 636 yards and 29 touchdowns. 

Kelley has a big arm with big numbers to back it up. He's already earned one Walter Payton Award and could be on his way to another later this season. Kelley's great collegiate career should end with him on an NFL team.

MUST-WATCH: These are the top-5 QBs to watch entering the FCS playoffs

Troy Andersen | Montana State

Troy Andersen is a linebacker, but has played running back, quarterback, outside linebacker and middle linebacker since arriving at Montana State. He's had success at every position, numerous accolades and it's this versatility that will draw the eyes of scouts. With 111 tackles in his latest campaign on the gridiron, Andersen seems to be great at whatever a coach asks him to do. While he may not start at linebacker from day one in the NFL, Andersen will stick to a team via special teams thanks to his versatility at the very least.

Eyabi Anoma | UT Martin

Eyabi Anoma did not have a typical path to FCS football. Anoma is a former five-star recruit who was ranked fourth overall in his high school class and participated in the Under Armour All-American game. Anoma began his college career at Alabama before landing at UT Martin in 2020 with a few stops in between.

While Anoma's college career started rocky, to say the least, he's found a new home as a Skyhawk and with it, success. In his first year at UT Martin, Anoma has 9.5 tackles for loss and six sacks entering the second round of the FCS playoffs. Anoma has shown flashes of the potential that has made him a prized recruit coming out of high school. While he might not head to the NFL just yet, with more consistency, he should find himself playing on Sundays come 2023.

BRACKET: See the 2021 FCS Championship bracket

Ethan Ratke | James Madison

Ethan Ratke may finish his James Madison career at the top of every all-time FCS kicking category; the NFL should be next. There's always room for accurate kickers at the professional record and Ratke's 86.21 career field goal percentage should be looked upon favorably by NFL scouts. 

There are currently kickers and punters hailing from Missouri Western, Marist, Eastern Kentucky, Sam Houston and Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the NFL; James Madison should be the next small school on the list.

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