While I always support juniors staying in school for their final year, solidifying their draft stock and mastering their craft, that holds especially true for FCS and lower division players. We've already seen one non-FBS prospect declare early (in Trabis Ward of Tennessee State) and now, we can add another.
According to Neil Straton of InsideTheLeague.com, Eastern Washington receiver Brandon Kaufman has decided to forego his senior season to make the unusual jump from FCS to NFL. However, despite it being an rare move, Kaufman certainly has NFL upside that could not only warrant a draft pick, but potentially even be one of the first Small Schoolers taken.
Kaufman has been consistently impressive over his career, and despite it being rare, I've considered him a realistic candidate to declare as a junior base don his play this year. He outperformed fellow talented receiver Nick Edwards this year by a lot, and certainly has the build and body type (6'5, 215) for the NFL.
He gets vertically well from his X position, attacks the ball very well at the highest point and using his size to his advantage. He also shows solid adjustment and vision after the catch despite not having great open field ability. Still, his ability on the outside and vs. man coverage should make him an intriguing small school receiver.
The receiver class is awfully deep this year, and he would have had a very real chance of being a potential mid to high second round pick had he stayed in school at Eastern Washington and continued to develop. But, with this decision, he'll be thrust into a heated battle between already declared juniors and established seniors to be in that 3rd-5th round area.
He'll certainly need to test well and show that he can be an every down (and not just situational/red zone) receiver, which will happen at the NFL Combine. He has the upside, and while I wish he would have stayed in school another season to polish his game and maximize his college opportunities, he has a chance to go as high as the Top 100, based on how he and the other receivers in this draft class perform this draft season.