If you tuned in to watch the NFL combine this week, you saw a distinct lack of Florida State players. The 'Noles sent only Christian Ponder, Rodney Hudson, and Markus White to the combine. In all, 34 schools sent more players to the combine than FSU:
Clemson, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, UConn, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, West Virginia, TCU, Utah, Arizona, Cal, Stanford, USC, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Boise State, Fresno State, and Nevada.
Many of those 34 schools aren't surprising and can be attributed to randomness. But some of those schools aren't anywhere near the program that FSU is. But the list really does serve to show the difference between program and team. Program is a measure of prestige, financial resources, and available recruiting resources. Team is the product on the field in any given year. And the results undeniably show that FSU did not have an elite level of NFL-ready talent on the field in 2010.
But that's also good news. FSU beat many of those schools and the 'Noles were certainly one of the best 20 teams in the country, if not one of the top 15. How did FSU do it if not with NFL-ready talent? Coaching, for one. But youth also played a big role. FSU lost only six senior starters, meaning half went to the combine. Three of six is not a terrible ratio. In an extreme comparison, Auburn sent five players to the combine. Three were juniors, meaning only two of Auburn's 12 seniors were invited to the combine. I would expect better showings in the coming years as FSU has really turned its recruiting around after the failures of the lost decade.
Watch NFL Scouting Combine Feb 24 - Mar1