clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

How will Florida State replace P.J. Williams and Ronald Darby?

Previously, Tomahawk Nation looked at replacing Jameis Winston. Here is a look at the secondary.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Both of Florida State's cornerbacks, Ronald Darby and P.J. Williams, elected to leave Florida State early to enter the NFL draft. Cornerback was the strength of FSU's secondary in 2014, and the departures leave a major hole for the Seminoles to fill if FSU is to win its fourth-consecutive ACC Championship.

Who will replace Williams and Darby? There are many possibilities, but no concrete answers.

Two 2014 reserves will have shots at the jobs. Junior Marquez White gave up basketball to focus on football full-time and has a lot of athleticism and length. He'll need to show increased technique and feel for the position in spring. Sophomore Malique Jackson was a high school quarterback with loads of athleticism, and it will be interesting to see how the 6'1 corner plays in spring as he competes for a starting role.

There's also the very realistic possibility that a 2014 starter from another position, like Jalen Ramsey (starter at nickelback) or Tyler Hunter (starting safety who played cornerback in 2012), could move outside. And sophomore Trey Marshall may be able to play the star position, as well.

The third factor in the equation is early-enrollee Derwin James. James is one of the most heralded safety recruits in the last decade, and has college-ready size and athleticism. James profiles as a safety, but may also be pegged at the star position. Five-star cornerback Tarvarus McFadden might also factor into the equation as a corner, though it is tougher for true freshmen to do so without enrolling early.

Ultimately, it's not just about finding cornerbacks, but putting the best combination of four (or five, really, since FSU plays a ton of nickel) defensive backs on the field. For instance, hypothetically, Ramsey might be Florida State's best cornerback, but his value to the team might be greater from his Star position.

Florida State needs at least one of White and Jackson to be a viable corner option for depth. If it gets both, it may be able to move Nate Andrews -- the weak link in the 2014 secondary back to the money spot (reserve sixth-DB role that covers less space) where he was comfortable and not exposed as a backup in 2013.

[I started to list off some possible combinations, but there are more than 15 I cannot reasonably rule out, so I'll attempt to do so after spring.]