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Stan Becton | NCAA.com | April 30, 2022

20 FCS players taken in the 2022 NFL draft

Christian Watson: 2022 NFL Draft prospect's top FCS playoff highlights

The 2022 NFL draft has concluded, with 20 former FCS players earning selections. Here's a breakdown of who got picked.

20 FCS players selected in the 2022 NFL draft

20 FCS players were selected in the 2022 NFL draft, a return to normalcy after COVID-19 impacted the pre-draft process in 2020 and 2021. Here are the FCS players selected.

Player Position School Round (Pick) Overall Pick NFL TEAM
Trevor Penning OT Northern Iowa 1 (19) 19 New Orleans Saints
Cole Strange OL Chattanooga 1 (29) 29 New England Patriots
Christian Watson WR North Dakota State 2 (2) 34 Green Bay Packers
Troy Andersen LB Montana State 2 (26) 58 Atlanta Falcons
Pierre Strong Jr. RB South Dakota State 4 (22) 127 New England Patriots
Cordell Volson OL North Dakota State 4 (31) 136 Cincinnati Bengals
Decobie Durant CB South Carolina State 4 (37) 142 Los Angeles Rams
Matt Waletzko OT North Dakota 5 (12) 155 Dallas Cowboys
Zyon McCollum CB Sam Houston 5 (14) 157 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Eric Johnson DT Missouri State 5 (16) 159 Indianapolis Colts
Montrell Washington WR Samford 5 (19) 162 Denver Broncos
Braxton Jones OT Southern Utah 5 (25) 168 Chicago Bears
Christian Benford CB Villanova 6 (6) 185 Buffalo Bills
Nick Zakelj OL Fordham 6 (8) 187 San Francisco 49ers
Andrew Ogletree TE Youngstown State 6 (13) 192 Indianapolis Colts
James Houston LB Jackson State 6 (39) 217 Detroit Lions
Ja'Tyre Carter OL Southern 7 (5) 226 Chicago Bears
Daniel Hardy LB Montana State 7 (14) 235 Los Angeles Rams
Rodney Thomas DB Yale 7 (18) 239 Indianapolis Colts
Chris Oladokun QB South Dakota State 7 (20) 241 Pittsburgh Steelers

WHO'S LEFT:  25 FCS players to know for the 2022 NFL draft

Breakdown by conference

The Missouri Valley Football Conference and the Southern Conference each had one player selected in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft with Northern Iowa OT Trevor Penning heading to the New Orleans Saints and Chattanooga OL Cole Strange going to the New England Patriots. Penning is only the third player selected in the NFL draft's first round in MVFC history, giving the conference first-round draft picks in back-to-back years.

Here's the complete breakdown of FCS selections by conference

Conference # of Players Selected
MVFC 9
Big Sky 3
SoCon 2
SWAC 2
WAC 1
CAA 1
Patriot 1
MEAC 1
Ivy 1

Breakdown by position

Position # of Players Selected
OL 7
DB 4
LB 3
WR 2
DT 1
RB 1
QB 1

LOOKING AHEAD: 16 FCS transfers who could have the biggest potential impact in 2022

Notables

  • Penning and Strange are 23rd and 24th first-round draft picks from the FCS, respectively.
  • No FCS player was selected in the third round for the first time since 1989.
  • The fifth round saw the most FCS players selected with five.
  • The New England Patriots, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams and Indianapolis Colts were the only NFL teams to select multiple FCS players.
  • North Dakota State, Montana State and South Dakota State were the only FCS teams with multiple players selected.
  • A North Dakota State player has been selected in four straight years. Ten have been selected since the Bison's first FCS title in 2011.
  • WR Christian Watson and OT Cordell Volson (North Dakota State) and LBs Troy Andersen and Daniel Hardy (Montana State) played in last year's FCS championship game. North Dakota State won 38-10.
  • Andersen was also a finalist for the 2021 Buck Buchanan Award.
  • Watson follows his father, Tim's, footsteps; Tim was selected by the Packers in the 1993 NFL draft
  • Strange surpassed NFL Hall of Famer and Mocs legend Terrell Owens as the highest draft pick in school history.
  • Sam Houston's Zyon McCollum — he ran a 4.33 40-yard dash at the NFL combine — joins the North Dakota State duo as former FCS champions (2020) to be selected in the draft.
  • South Dakota State's Pierre Strong was the fastest running back — 4.37 40-yard dash — at the NFL combine.
  • Samford's WR Montrell Washington led the FCS in all-purpose yards. He figures to impact Denver's return game.
  • Matt Waletzko is North Dakota's first NFL draft pick since 2006.
  • James Houston's selection pushes Jackson State's total number of FCS draft picks to 42, the most all time. That's six more than second place.

PORTAL: These FCS teams have been most active in the transfer portal this offseason

4 HBCU football players selected in the 2022 NFL draft

The growth of HBCU football continued with the 2022 NFL draft after no HBCU players were selected in 2021. Four players were selected, with Division II and Fayetteville State cornerback Joshua Williams becoming the first HBCU player drafted 135th overall to the Kansas City Chiefs with pick 30 of the fourth round. The first FCS HBCU football player selected was South Carolina State cornerback Decobie Durant, drafted 142nd overall to the Los Angeles Rams with pick 37 of the fourth round.

See the complete list of HBCU football players selected below:

Player Position School Round (Pick) Overall Pick NFL TEAM
Joshua Williams CB Fayetteville State 4 (30) 135 Kansas City Chiefs
Decobie Durant CB South Carolina State 4 (37) 142 Los Angeles Rams
James Houston LB Jackson State 6 (39) 217 Detroit Lions
Ja'Tyre Carter OL Southern 7 (5) 226 Chicago Bears

MORE HBCU FOOTBALL: See all that's happened in the 2021 HBCU Football season

Breakdown by conference

Conference # of Players Selected
SWAC 2
CIAA 1
MEAC 1

Notables

  • Joshua Williams is the first Fayetteville State player selected since 1976.
  • Decobie Durant won the 2021 MEAC Defensive Player of the Year and led South Carolina State to its first Celebration Bowl title, where he won Defensive MVP.
  • Durant's selection breaks South Carolina State's tie with Tennessee State for the third-most NFL draft picks from FCS teams. The Bulldogs now have 34 total NFL draft picks in the FCS era.
  • James Houston's selection pushes Jackson State's total number of FCS draft picks to 42, the most all time. That's six more than second place.
  • Ja'Tyre Carter is Southern's first player selected since 2004.

CIRCLING BACK: The final HBCU football power rankings for the 2021 season

While the NFL draft has concluded, expect several FCS and HBCU players to find NFL homes as undrafted free agents. 

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