Florida State Football NFL Draft Open Thread: Thursday

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

All FSU NFL draft updates can be found in the Pro Noles Hub.

Hey Tomahawk Nation readers, this will be your spot to follow along with the NFL draft Thursday night to see if any Florida State players are drafted in the first round. The whole deal kicks off at 8 EST.

We'll open up the comment thread at 5 EST. Coach Jimbo Fisher will appear live on the NFL Draft Pre-Show at 5:30 p.m. on Friday with host Chris Rose, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, Stanford head coach David Shaw and analyst Charles Davis. From 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Fisher will be on NFL.com’s Draft Xtra with hosts Bucky Brooks and Elliot Harrison.

Three Florida State players are in contention to be drafted in the first round. Let's look at each with the help of Brendan Bures' draft preview:

Timmy Jernigan | NT | 6-foot-2 | 298 pounds 

Reported Team Visits: Titans, Cowboys

Let’s start with the failed drug tests in the room: According to FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer, Jernigan and former Seminole linebackers Telvin Smith and Christian Jones all failed their drug tests at this year’s NFL combine. There were 10 players total flagged either testing positive for drugs or having a diluted sample. Jernigan reportedly had a diluted sample. 

Jernigan’s buzz was palpable once he declared for the NFL Draft, so much so that ESPN’s Todd McShay had him as the No. 5 prospect overall in an early mock. Now, Jernigan won’t attend the NFL Draft as he had previously intended and is slated for a mid-first round selection, or perhaps falling to the second round.

His aggressive strength, ability to eat gaps and bullrushing technique have kept teams interested, though. Despite having a reaction to medication, Jernigan played his best game in the National Championship, recording nine tackles and disrupting Auburn’s offensive line throughout the game. At 21 years-old, he’s a long-term investment, but can make an impact in the correct scheme right away. A lot of mocks have shown the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys taking a heavy interest in Jernigan. 

Kelvin Benjamin | WR | 6-foot-5 | 234 pounds

Reported Team Visits: Steelers, Panthers, Jets, Eagles, Patriots, Ravens

He was known by high school recruiters as a “beautiful freak,” which serves as an apt representation of Benjamin’s current draft status. His talent and skills have been well documented: He has a massive, hulking frame with an ability to separate from defenders with his long strides as a runner. His big hands provide a bread basket for quarterbacks to throw the football and his jump ball ability, as evidenced by the game-winning touchdown catch in the National Championship game, is invaluable in the red zone and against NFL secondaries. 

But the extended duration of this year’s buildup to the draft has hurt Benjamin; he’s become a polarizing prospect for some reasons known, others not so much. He reportedly blew off an NFL coach who made a special visit to watch Benjamin work out, according to NFL.com’s Gil Brandt. Benjamin was “tired,” according to the report, and that’s why he missed the workout, but his agent denies Brandt’s report. With more time for analysis, Benjamin has been labeled as a “risky” pick by draftniks, and some of them have suggested a potential move to tight end in the NFL

Is it all smoke and mirrors or is the criticism legitimate? While Benjamin did explode last season, transforming into a go-to playmaker, it was only one season. That Benjamin is an intriguing physical specimen with potential unrealized is a label he had in his first few seasons at FSU, and its label that has followed him to the draft. There’s some real risk involved with Benjamin, enough to push him back a few picks, but his size and numbers are enough to mitigate most doubt NFL teams will have about him. 

Terrence Brooks | S | 5-foot-11 | 200 pounds 

Reported Team Visits: Unknown; Brooks has visited with NFL teams, though

No Seminole has had a better offseason leading up to the draft than Terrence Brooks. Heimpressed scouts and coaches at the Senior Bowl and had an incredible combine, posting a 4.42 40-yard dash and finishing first in the vertical (38 inches) and broad jump (119 inches) for safeties. Initially pegged as a Round 4 or 5 selection, Brooks has been firmly labeled as a Round 2 selection, thanks to his impressive workouts. He’s an aggressive run-stopper and can be physical with wide receivers, although his hands and history of dropping interceptions need to improve. 

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