Florida State experienced great success in the 2013 NFL draft with a school record 11 Draft picks with 5 players being selected among the top 42 selections. Among the 11 players drafted Florida State had 3 Early Entry’s selected with two of those players being selected in the 1st round (Xavier Rhodes & Bjoern Werner), and the third player selected in the 2nd Round (Menelik Watson)
Churning players into the NFL begins with recruiting and developing those prospects properly within your program. Since taking over fully in 2010 Fisher has revamped recruiting to that at a level where most can agree that Florida State is at the point where we are not rebuilding but reloading blue chip prospects with more blue chip prospects. Since his hire Fisher and staff have produced top 10 classes all 3 years with two of those being Top 5 depending on the recruiting service. In regards to recruiting at the levels of the Upper Tier programs in College Football Schools must not only recruit players that mold well with their systems, but also those prospects who barring injury or any other issues that arise will eventually project to the NFL. In regards to how upper tier programs recruit Its commonplace for coaches to project certain elite level prospects as possible early entry prospects when their time comes if they develop at the same right.
Florida State has a number of players on the current roster that project to the NFL, a decent amount of which are underclassmen who I feel have the chance to declare early for the draft. In part 1 I discuss the Juniors on the squad and my take on if they project to the NFL, the chances of them leaving early and who I feel they compare to as a possible NFL prospect (I do not scout for a living, just a fan of the game so please discuss, and add those who I have missed)
A gifted athlete whose speed and quickness make him a perfect option at slot receiver where he will continue to fight for a starting job in 2013, but could also be used on the outside.
Green is an intriguing prospect who probably has the highest ceiling of all the Receivers not named Kelvin Benjamin. Green is a very explosive athlete with a deadly size/speed combo. Green has shown flashes of his big play ability but has not shown the consistency needed to warrant a possible early entry in the draft. My NFL comparison to Christian Green would be Stevie Johnson of the Buffalo Bills, they share a similar build, although I feel Green is the faster of the two, if Green can stay consistent I could see him being drafted after his RS Senior year. (As a sidenote Manuel’s passes to Green were HORRIBLE this past season and I know I can’t be the only one that noticed…lol)
Long and athletically gifted tackle who enters just his second year playing offensive line. One of four starters returning from an offensive line that helped an FSU offense in 2012 go down in school history as the most productive racking up a school record 6,591 yards which surpassed the 2000 team for the most yards. An outstanding blocker who played a key role in FSU's resurgent running game, which averaged 205.9 yards a game and produced a single-season record 40 rushing touchdowns.
Erving the converted DT had a good but not necessarily Great 1st year, but his long athletic frame has had him on draft boards since making the transition. My pro comparison would be recent draftee Terron Armstead who wowed Scouts at the combine with his 4.78 40 time , and exceptional athleticism. I feel Erving has a decent chance to leave early depending upon his continued development at a new position
Third-year running back who brings 12 career starts into 2013 having led FSU in rushing as a freshman in 2011 while serving as the second leading rusher in 2012. Doak Walker Award Candidate (nation's top running back) who will combine with James Wilder, Jr., to form one of the top running back tandems in the country. Quick and powerful running back with good hands and good speed out of the backfield. Integral part of an FSU rushing attack which averaged 205.9 yards a game and produced a single-season record 40 rushing touchdowns in 2012.
Freeman who may be the most consistent of all the backs may have the lowest ceiling, which I feel will keep him in school for his Sr year. My NFL comparison for Freeman would be Tashard Choice as both backs possess decent vision, have a shorter build, and are more quick than they are fast.
One of the top defensive tackles in the country despite not being the full-time starter in 2012. Candidate for the Outland Trophy given to the nation's top interior lineman as well as the Lombardi Award given to the nation's top lineman. Explosive player off the ball, who was a disruptive force in opposing backfields as evidenced by posting the most tackles amongst all FSU interior linemen in each of his first two seasons. Steps into one of the starting spots left vacated at defensive tackle and brings experience from 26 career games which has produced 76 career tackles and 14 tackles for loss.
Jernigan who may be as disruptive force as any in college football is at the moment being projected as a possible 1st rounder, and most feel that if he has the season as projected he is as good as gone. Jernigan who may be a bit undersized possesses exceptional strength and quickness. My pro comparison would be Geno Atkins of the Bengals, and also Marvin Austin formerly of the Tarheels, and now a member of the Giants.
One of the top tight ends in the country who is a candidate for the Mackey Award. Hard-nosed, old-school player who doesn't wear gloves and possesses strong hands with a knack for finding the ball whenever it comes in his direction. Displays great versatility which allows him to flex out wide as a receiver, line-up close on the line or be used in the backfield as a H-Back.
O’leary presents versatility from the TE position. Possesses exceptional hands although he does need to work on holding onto the ball after the catch. I don’t see O’leary leaving early but I do see him getting drafted after his Sr. season. My pro comparison for O’leary would be Dallas Clark formerly of the Colts, or Chris Cooley formerly of the Redskins.
Starting right guard who displays good agility and strength in helping hold down the interior of the line and enters his second year as a starter.
I like Jackson, as a large and agile road grader, he isn’t Johnathan Cooper, but he is one of the very best in the ACC, I feel Jackson will come back for his Sr. year becoming a 3 year starter. My pro comparison for Jackson is Larry Warford the rookie OL of the Lions.
James Wilder Jr.
Big, physical back who is tough to bring down and can move a pile. Has good vision and continues to develop in pass protection and as a pass catcher out of the backfield. Another Doak Walker Candidate (nation's top running back) who will be part of one of the top running back tandems in the country with Devonta Freeman.
Consistency is key for Wilder who projects as one of the top backs in the country this upcoming season. Wilder has a bruising style but is a very versatile pass catcher. My Pro Comparison for Wilder would be Chris Brown formerly of the Colorado Buffaloes, and Tennessee Titans, and also Eddie George formerly of Ohio State, and the Tennessee Titans. With a strong season, I see a high probability of Wilder leaving after his Jr. Season.
Big, fast, physical player who can cover ground and is a hard hitter on the defensive side while also using his speed and vision as a kick returner and kickoff coverage guy on special teams. Showed his versatility playing in FSU's "6-pack" package late in the season.
Williams possesses elite athleticism, which doesn’t always translate to elite football player. Williams looks to have an increased role in Pruitt’s new d in which we are all anxious to see. Look for Williams to play closer to the line of scrimmage to capitalize on his tackling ability and physicality. My Pro Comparisons for Karlos Williams are Adrian Wilson formerly of the Cardinals, and Rookie safety Eric Reid formerly of LSU, although I feel he could be Alec Ogeltree as a LB.
Starting left guard who displays good agility and strength in helping hold down the interior of the line entering his second year as a starter.
Matias may have the highest ceiling of all the Lineman not named Cam Erving. Matias displays light quick feet, and the ability to get down field on screen plays, one of the more versatile members of the line as I feel he could play Tackle as well as Guard. Pro Comparison for Matias would be Brennan Williams formerly of the Tarheels. Although I feel Matias could test the waters with a strong year, I believe he comes back for his SR year.
Athletic third-year lineman who played as a 17-year old true freshman in 2011 and started the final nine games at right tackle. Leading candidate to start at right tackle in 2013. Versatile lineman who also has the ability to play inside at guard.
Hard to believe the 19y/o is already in his Jr. year. Hart presents a high ceiling but the question is does he possess the maturity to work at his craft and the mental makeup to take control of the opportunity at hand. My pro Comparison for the JR would be New York Giants rookie Justin Pugh formerly of the Syracuse Orangemen. I believe Hart comes back for his Sr. year but will have scouts Salivating if he shows consistency throughout this season due to his youth.
Instinctive corner, who has good ball skills, speed and technique. Should enter 2013 as a starter at one of the cornerback spots despite missing this spring recovering from surgery.
Waisome has become somewhat of the forgotten member of the secondary even though he was very solid in filling in for the dismissed Reid. I feel Waisome would excel more and is better suited in a Nickel role, though I was impressed this past season by his cover ability and willingness to come up and make the tackle. My pro comparison for Waisome would be Ron Brooks Cornerback of the Buffalo Bills formerly of the LSU tigers.
Bilentikoff Award Finalist who has lead FSU in receiving the past two seasons, will look to build upon another record setting season. Smart speedy receiver who has great hands, and explosive play-making ability. Attacks the ball in the air and can pull away from defenders with his speed after making the catch.
Greene has been FSU most productive and consistent Wideout over the past two seasons, and could finally end Dawsey’s drought of Receivers drafted if he decides to come out this season. Greene remind me of a smaller faster more explosive Reggie Wayne due to his exceptional route running and somewhat deceptive speed even though he is plenty fast. The only thing keeping Greene back from a possible declaration for the draft would be his size IMO as he has a smaller build.
Versatile defensive back who can play either Safety or Corner. Served as Punt Returner and a key contributor on special teams. Looks to expand his role as the starting Nickelback where his physical play and speed contributed to one of the top Defenses in the country.
Hunter I feel may be the most versatile of the DB’s, and had Joyner left for the NFL I would have called Hunter the best Returning player in the defensive backfield. I am with Fisher in drinking the Tyler Hunter kool aid as I feel he could be elite as a safety or corner. Hunter is a sure tackler and has a decent set of hands. Hunter has loads of potential. My NFL comparison for Hunter would be Rod Woodson (Not because they’re both lightskinned) But because I feel Hunter has that type of ceiling as a football player. Had Joyner left this season, I would have penciled in Hunter to take over his spot, and have a high chance of leaving early for the draft.
Out of the prospects listed I predict two out of the 13 Juniors to declare for the draft, with two more possibly declaring after strong seasons. Take in mind that skill positions don't necessarily need outrageous stats to become high draft picks (ex. AJ Green or Jerome Bettis) , they just need to have a skillset that projects well to that of the pro game, and with players making more money on the 2nd contracts don't be surprised to see players you'd expect to leave stay, even though the risk of injury outweighs the reward.
Sophomores, and Freshman coming later this week.