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Florida State football, recruiting news: Where should FSU be ranked in preseason?

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Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

With Andrew on vacation, I am doing Noles News on Tuesday and Friday. I hope everyone had a great Mother's Day. Florida State receiver Auden Tate sure did, as he went to visit mothers at an assisted living facility in his hometown of Tampa. Great gesture, Auden.

Fox Sports has FSU at No. 2 in its too-early top-25 poll.

The 'Noles have found their quarterback, redshirt freshman Deondre Francois, who separated himself in the spring. He'll have the benefit of a veteran receiving corps (Travis Rudolph, Bobo Wilson and Kermit Whitfield), and speedy sophomore RB Jacques Patrick should see more carries behind star Dalvin Cook. DeMarcus Walker and Josh Sweat could become the nation's top pair of bookend pass-rushers.

Others: 3. Clemson, 10. Ole Miss, 16. North Carolina, 20. Louisville, 23. Florida

Where is the right spot to rank Florida State in the preseason? The Seminoles have brought in the fifth-most talent on the recruiting trail over the last four cycles (behind just Alabama, Ohio State, LSU and Notre Dame) and recruiting rankings are an excellent predictor of success. Given that Alabama has the best coach in my lifetime and still has by far the most talent (31 percent more blue chips signed during that period than FSU), putting anyone other than the Crimson Tide No. 1 might be a ploy for clicks.

But beyond the Tide, I don't see any team that should absolutely be ranked above FSU, which means the upper bounds is probably No. 2. FSU brings back a lot of experienced talent and is well coached. On the flip side, I think there are probably five or six other teams for which you can make a legitimate argument should be ranked over FSU, like LSU, Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, Clemson, and maybe one of UCLA, Tennessee or Oklahoma.

That means I think anywhere from No. 2 to No. 7 is pretty reasonable in the preseason. Where you put FSU in that range probably depends on whether you factor in things like schedule, making your ranking a projection, or whether your ranking is more of a power ranking.

Where would you rank FSU?


Here's an excellent breakdown from Alligator Army of Florida's projected offensive and defensive depth charts.

Who will replace the first round picks from FSU's opponents? Eight of them, via PFF.

11. Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
Replacement: Quincy Wilson
Wilson will start opposite next year's first-round hopeful Jalen Tabor and given Wilson's experience and two-year production, the Gators may not see a big drop-off, even with Hargreaves off to the NFL. Wilson has played 935 snaps at Florida, grading at +15.4 in coverage while allowing a passer rating of only 55.1 into his coverage.

17. Keanu Neal, S, Florida
Replacement: Duke Dawson, Nick Washington, Marcell Harris
Florida has multiple options in replacing Neal, from the hard-hitting Harris (-0.8 on 179 career snaps) to cornerback/safety hybrid Dawson (+1.8 on 369 career snaps) to Washington (+0.1 on 340 snaps last two years). Dawson appears primed to replace Brian Poole in the slot, so look for Harris and Washington to battle it out on the back end opposite Marcus Mayes.

12. Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
Replacement: James Hearns, Drew Bailey, Kyle Shortridge
Hearns was a productive pass rusher last season, picking up three sacks, three QB hits and seven hurries on 163 attempts while Bailey graded at +3.8 on his 156 snaps. Shortridge has shown well against the run (+3.8 on 148 total snaps last two seasons) and this looks like a committee approach to replace Rankins' great production both against the run and as a pass rusher.

13. Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
Replacement: Greg Little, Alex Givens, Jeremy Liggins
Chances are it's going to be a freshman replacing Tunsil, as five-star recruit Greg Little is expected to compete for the job in fall camp while redshirt freshman Givens is in competition to start at either left or right tackle.

29. Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
Replacement: Breeland Speaks, Isaac Gross
Ole Miss has plenty of experience on their defensive line as Speaks played a strong 468 snaps last season (+11.1 overall) while Gross is undersized but he was productive on his 405 snaps in 2014 (+6.3 overall). Expect a heavy rotation as Ole Miss has seven returning defensive linemen who played at least 100 snaps a year ago, not including Gross who was limited to five.

23. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Replacement: Damore'ea Stringfellow, Quincy Adeboyejo, Derrick Jones
Stringfellow and Adeboyejo were already big parts of the Ole Miss passing offense as Stringfellow used his massive 6-foot-3, 229-pound frame to catch 36 passes for 504 yards while Adeboyejo contributed 38 catches for 604 yards. Expect both players to see a big increase in production while Jones could get a chance to develop as a big-play downfield threat.

19. Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
Replacement: Austin Bryant
Clemson has two top defensive ends to replace in both Lawson and second-round pick Kevin Dodd, and Bryant is the top option to replace their production. When Lawson went down in the playoff game against Oklahoma, Bryant filled in nicely on 66 snaps, capping off a solid true freshman campaign that saw him finish at +3.8 overall on 235 snaps.

25. Artie Burns, CB, Miami
Replacement: Sheldrick Redwine, Michael Jackson
Redwine played 102 snaps last season as a true freshman, grading at -0.8 overall but +0.7 in coverage. Jackson was also a true freshman and he only saw action on 32 snaps in two different games. They're listed at 6-foot-1 and 6-foot-2 respectively so Miami has a chance to replace Burns with some length on the outside.


Predicting the best rookie for all 32 NFL teams

Jacksonville Jaguars: Jalen Ramsey, the No. 5 overall pick, played multiple spots at Florida State but will strictly be a cornerback with the Jaguars. He has the size, length and physicality to play the kind of press-man coverage the Jaguars want out of their corners, and he will immediately step into a starting spot opposite Davon House. Ramsey will have more chances to make plays than he did at FSU because teams won't avoid throwing at him. His presence also will help a still-developing pass rush. -- Mike DiRocco

Is Ronald Darby already a top-100 NFL player?


Florida State's Tim Brewster will be visiting its top tight end target Alexander Marshall, of Andover (Ma.). He was also in New Jersey visiting prospects. Marshall is the only tight end FSU has offered and could be primed for a ratings bump due to his impressive size/athleticism combo.