• Idaho's Hayden Hatten is the FCS WR to watch: His catch strength is excellent, as is his hand-eye coordination.
• Sacramento State's Marshel Martin IV brings versatility: Whether it's blocking or finding soft spots in coverage for his quarterback to get him the ball, Martin is a weapon.
• It's never too early to gear up for the 2024 NFL Draft: PFF has you covered throughout the college football season. Click here for our 2024 big board.
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We’ve talked a lot about some of the biggest names in the 2024 NFL Draft class, but it's also worth shining light on players who might not be featured on national TV every Saturday but are standing out nonetheless.
Here are five FCS players on the rise who you should know for the potential 2024 class.
OT KIRAN AMEGADJIE, YALE
Amegadjie is a two-year starter at left tackle for Yale and has displayed a lot of NFL upside. Listed at 6-foot-5 and 326 pounds, he did not let up a sack last season on 288 pass-blocking snaps. And in the previous season, Amegadjie allowed just one sack on 409 pass-blocking snaps at right guard.
His pad level is a bit high as a 6-foot-5 human being, but it’s very clear from his tape that he is a better-caliber athlete than most players he’s up against. The way he can fire off the line of scrimmage, whether that’s forward run blocking or retreating in pass protection, is impressive. His contact balance and core strength are also plusses in his game. Amegadjie will be a name to know for the All-Star circuit this January.
WR HAYDEN HATTEN, IDAHO
The redshirt senior receiver put on a show last season with an elite 91.9 receiving grade thanks to his 1,223 receiving yards, 17 contested catches and 39 explosive plays of 15 yards or more.
— Idaho Football (@VandalFootball) October 30, 2022
Hatten is listed at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, and although his receiving grade is lower this season (79.5), his production is still going strong, as he has yet to finish a game with fewer than 70 receiving yards. He won’t be the most explosive receiver in this class with the best long speed, but his catch strength is excellent, as is his hand-eye coordination. Hatten also does a nice job with suddenness in his routes to create separation. He’s the FCS receiver to watch.
OT JALEN TRAVIS, PRINCETON
Travis stands out (literally) the second you turn on his tape. The 6-foot-9, 315-pound left tackle from Minneapolis, Minnesota, makes even bigger edge players look small. But that’s not the only area he stands out in. His PFF grades this season are also above the competition. He has earned a 91.6 overall grade with an 88.4 pass-blocking grade and a 90.2 run-blocking grade in 2023.
Flexibility and pad level are somewhat of a concern for Travis, as is the case with most players who are that big, but he’s a decent athlete for his size. He also comes from a family of athletes. His brothers played basketball at Harvard and Kentucky, and his cousin played basketball at Penn State as well as tight end in the NFL. He’s a good developmental tackle prospect with elite measurables to keep an eye on.
Highest-Graded FCS OTs | 2023
TE MARSHEL MARTIN IV, SACRAMENTO STATE
Marshall is a do-it-all type of tight end. He played almost 700 snaps in each of the past two seasons, with more than 400 per year coming as an inline player and more than 250 per year coming as a slot.
Sacramento State TE Marshel Martin has NFL talent — think he could be an excellent H-back at the next level.
Powers his way into the end zone for a TD! 10 more catches tonight, 107 yards and 2 TD’s…had 10 catches, 148 yds and 2 TD’s last week too.
— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) December 10, 2022
He’s listed at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, so he’s much smaller than most NFL tight ends. But his game is that of a veteran. Martin's fundamentals when blocking are very consistent, which has yielded a 71.8 pass-blocking grade and a 70.1 run-blocking grade this season. He has also grown to be quite a savvy receiver, especially in the short areas close to the line of scrimmage. He has ascended in receiving yards in each of the past three seasons, first with 255 in 2019, then 650 in 2021 and 875 last season. He’s not the most explosive or twitched-up athlete, but he is so smooth and smart with how he knifes between zone coverages and finds the soft spots for his quarterback to get the ball to him.
For everything Martin can do on and off the line of scrimmage, he’s a true security blanket in Sacramento State's offense.
EDGE DAVID WALKER, CENTRAL ARKANSAS
In his first season at Central Arkansas, Walker earned an elite 91.5 pass-rushing grade with 16 sacks, 54 total pressures and a 24.7% pass-rush win percentage. This season, he has 13 pressures and three sacks in four games with a 21.6% pass-rush win percentage. While undersized in length, he can get low at the line of scrimmage and really fire off the ball for good speed-to-power. Walker also possesses fast hands that allow him to disengage quickly. He held up well in Week 1 against Oklahoma State with four total pressures. He’s someone to keep an eye on as the FCS season progresses.