By Mary Cunningham

Not every NFL-er went to a big-time school like Alabama, Michigan or Penn State.

And if you’d never heard of Eagles’ fave Carson Wentz (above in Chicago with CSN’s John Clark) before the draft, that doesn’t mean you weren’t watching enough college football. Wentz played at North Dakota State, a Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) program. Players from the lower tiers of college football rarely go this early in the draft. Notable examples include quarterback Steve McNair, the No. 3 overall pick in the 1995 draft from Alcorn State, and Tennessee State defensive end Ed “Too Tall” Jones, who went No. 1 in the 1974 draft.

But these players frequently sneak into the later rounds. Since 2000, only four players from FCS schools have been selected in the first round. This number steadily increases by round to 119 total selections in the seventh round since 2000. This is where teams will try to find the next Josh Norman, the star cornerback out of Coastal Carolina who left the NFC-champion Carolina Panthers this off-season and signed a mega-deal with the Washington Redskins.

More often than not, taking a chance on these unheralded players has paid off: Since 2000, 5.6% of FCS players or lower division players drafted in rounds four through seven since have gone on to reach a Pro Bowl. That might seem small, but that’s better than the 3.5% of players from Football Bowl Subdivision players in those rounds, according to Stats LLC.

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