For many on the 2023 Seminole’s roster, their attention has turned to Dublin.
For those departing the program, their eyes fixate on Detroit.
The NFL Draft will occur in the Motor City in just over three months, where former Florida State players should take center stage. Multiple Seminoles on both sides of the ball will be looking to hear their name called, from potential first-round (and even top 10) selections to later-round pick-ups.
Draft evaluations are fluid and change rapidly, but before the combine and all-star events begin, let’s take a look at how some of those players are being projected — offense up first.
Quarterback Jordan Travis
Measurables as listed from FSU:
6’1’’ 212 lbs
Pros: I will present Travis’ report without knowledge of the injury, assuming he will fully recover and be ready for the start of NFL training camp. The pros and cons of the sixth-year player are easy to see. This season, he enhanced his ability to throw with anticipation and timing. Travis dissects defenses and rarely puts the ball in harm’s way. When the play broke down, he used his dual-threat ability to keep drives alive and go above the Xs and Os. His intangibles off the field may be his most significant asset. Travis defined leadership this season and stuck by his teammates even after the season-ending injury. All 32 franchises would want a person of his caliber in their locker room.
Cons: The issue most apparent for Travis will be if he has reached his ceiling in college. Already a super senior and 23 years old, teams will find it challenging to draft him based on his upside. The transformation that took place in Tallahassee blew everyone in the program away. Scouts feel that most of the juice has been squeezed from the lemon. On top of that, he does not have physical traits that stand out from an NFL perspective.
In a deep QB class with a low ceiling, it is difficult to see Travis going high in the draft. However, teams will value his leadership and football IQ, so I suspect he will find a home later in the weekend.
Draft projection: Mid-to-late Day 3 pick
Running back Trey Benson
Measurables: 6’1’’ 223 lbs.
Pros: After not being a factor at Oregon, Benson transferred to Florida State and changed the program's trajectory. His home run speed and physical frame to pick up tough yards made the redshirt junior the bell cow of the offense. Benson proved this year that he can carry a heavy offensive load, averaging double-digit touches a game this season. He possesses incredible contact balance and the ability to shed would-be tacklers. In his second season at FSU, he became a more patient runner, often “taking the crumbs,” as he likes to say, before hitting the home run ball later in the game.
Cons: When evaluating Benson, two issues stick out. He developed as a pass catcher this year, evidenced by a couple of one-handed grabs, but he still looks unnatural. He only finished the season with 20 catches, one less than Toafili, but Benson received significantly more snaps. The other shortcoming of the running back’s game is his blocking. While his PFF numbers give him a respectable 69.7 pass-blocking grade on the year, it does not tell the whole story. He only played 35 pass-blocking snaps the entire year, a strange number given the amount snaps taken this year.
I could see Benson’s stock rising significantly over the next few months based on the shallow running back class, his production/film, and how he should test at the all-star events. I expect him to be rumored as a top 3 back in the class, but he lacks the skill set to be an every-down player.
Draft projection: Middle Day 2 pick
Wide receiver Keon Coleman
Measurables: 6’4’’ 215 lbs
Pros: Where do you begin? Keon Coleman came to Tallahassee looking to cement his name as a high pick in this year’s draft.
The Michigan State transfer lit the college football world on fire with a 3 TD performance to start the season and never looked back. With prototypical size, Coleman ranks as the best-contested catch receiver in the class. He uses his basketball background to jump over corners, and his totem polls for arms to snatch the ball out of the air. Coleman often says, “If they don’t double me, they can’t cover me.” One of the more underrated parts of his skill set is his hands. Coleman rarely puts the ball on the turf and uses late hands to confuse defenders. He is strong at the point of attack, helping finish over corners during the contested catch process. When motivated, Coleman projects as a high-end run blocker and can often be seen finishing his blocks 10-15 yards downfield to spring massive runs.
Cons: While Coleman possesses all the physical tools of being a great receiver, he does not always put it together. His production wavered during the season, exacerbated by only registering eight catches in the final three games of the regular season. Compared to the other pass catchers in the draft, his outputs rank far behind. He felt boom or bust throughout the year, and his consistency wavered. As mentioned earlier, his run blocking took a hit when his focus dropped. Coleman finished the season with a respectable 67.9 run-blocking grade but did not finish a game with a score over 62 in the season's final five weeks. Coleman understands football too well and is too physical of a receiver to poorly run block. Some pundits state that his route running needs work, although I find that nitpicky as his practice reps make up for any missteps in games.
This is the most challenging projection. Some places see Coleman as WR2 and a top-15 lock, while others think he is a second-round draft pick. I think Keon boasts all the qualities the NFL looks for in receivers and projects as a high-end two or low-end one at the next level. He reminds me a lot of Tee Higgins at his best and Kenny Golladay at his worst. However, with such a deep draft class at his position, it is difficult to think Coleman will go as high as his projects said at the beginning of the year.
Draft Projection: 15-30 range in the first round
Wide receiver Johnny Wilson
Measurables: 6’7’’ 237 lbs
Pros: Size. His frame jumps off the screen when reading, listening, or watching Wilson. During his two-year stint in Tallahassee, the Arizona State transfer became a matchup nightmare in Mike Norvell’s offense. Given his height and ball-tracking skills, he manufactured chemistry with Jordan Travis on comebacks and fades that felt automatic. His run blocking made him a player Norvell could ill afford to take off the field, as he finished the year with a grade of 78.6, according to PFF. Wilson moves incredibly well and often surprises corners with his ability to close space and flip his hips. Defenses never had an answer of who to put on him, as bigger safeties could not keep up. He played well with all of the Florida State QBs, leading the team in catches and yards under Rodemaker and Glenn. Wilson improved after his difficulty with drops to begin the year, and his film contains highlights of difficult catches, especially those low to the ground that Wilson finds a way to scoop off the turf.
Cons: Standing 6’7’’ is a blessing and a curse. Not many players stand as tall as Wilson in the league, and that is for a reason. Many see him as a tweener too big to play receiver but does not have the dimensions to play tight end. His position is up in the air going into his rookie season, and a coaching staff must be creative to maximize his talents. As mentioned, drops became better during the season, but the problem never found a solution. Wilson struggled to catch the ball softly into his hands and seemed to make the hard catches easy but the simple impossible. Whether that can be coached out at the next level remains to be seen.
Wilson’s patience may be tested on draft weekend with a receiver class as deep as it is. I suspect he will test well due to his physical measurements, which could boost his stock closer to April. Ultimately, I think NFL teams will struggle with the double-edged sword nature of his size. Wilson became a more consistent player at Florida State, and his name will be called in Detroit, but it may be a little while.
Draft Projection: Rounds 3-4
Tight end Jaheim Bell
Measurables: 6’3’’ 239 lbs
Pros: Like Coleman, Bell accomplished his mission of increasing his draft stock in a single season. Bell became Mike Norvell’s favorite chess piece. He played positionless football, lining up on the line of scrimmage, in the backfield, or outside as a receiver. Bell’s do-it-all skillset made him a linchpin of the Seminole success this season, as well as a Swiss army knife. As a receiver, Bell runs crisp routes and keeps defensive coordinators up at night trying to decide whether to put a slower linebacker or undersized safety on the tight end. The South Carolina transfer became a spark waiting to ignite as his run after the catch ability turned small gains into explosive plays. He finished the season with the third most receptions on the FSU roster and exemplified consistency by registering multiple catches in every regular season game this season. Most of all, his versatility made him an invaluable piece of the offense and where most of his money will be made from the draft.
Cons: Jaheim Bell often mentioned that Mike Norvell’s recruiting pitch to play for the Seminoles revolved around turning him into a better all-around player. While his blocking improved from his days at South Carolina, it is still Bell’s most prominent blemish. The PFF numbers are not kind to #6, grading out his run blocking at a pedestrian 61.6 and his pass blocking a below-average 50.3. The blocking concerns amplify the question marks surrounding Bell’s body. Many feel that, like Wilson, he is a tweener who is too big to play receiver but too small to play tight end. He will need to put on weight at the next level to carve out a consistent role and not just play as a gadget guy.
Bell’s production at a consistent level and fluidity as a receiver lands him in the top 5 of a shallow tight end class besides Brock Bowers. His ability to play multiple roles and move all over the field attracts offensive minds around the league. His physical frame will dampen his draft stock, but I still believe he will be a top-100 pick.
Draft Projection: 75-95 pick
Offensive guards D’Mitri Emmanuel and Casey Roddick
I am putting these players together since they play the same position and have similar outlooks. Most scouts believe that both players will not get drafted next year, although how they perform at the pro day and all-star events can change the outlook. This class ranks as a deep draft class along the offensive line, with as many as seven linemen being projected with first-round grades. Each struggled during the season and rotated time with others along the offensive line. While Emmanuel became a great leader for FSU during his two years in Tallahassee, his frame and athleticism do not project to be an NFL player. He tested the waters last year, even going through Florida State’s pro day, before finding a way to return to school. Roddick has the frame to play along the offensive line in the NFL but also lacks the needed athleticism. His PFF numbers are serviceable for college, but he graded out as a 61.0 run blocker this season, not good enough for the pros.
Draft Projection: UDFA