In preparation for the 2013 NFL Draft, NFLDraftScout.com will profile the top draft-eligible prospects from FBS-level programs. This summer series will run until the start of the college football season.
FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES
NFL Draft picks the last five years: 14
2012 NFL Draft picks: 4 – LB Nigel Bradham (4th round, 105th overall), OT Zebrie Sanders (5th round, 144th overall), CB Mike Harris (6th overall, 176th overall), OT Andrew Datko (7th overall, 241st overall)
In the 30 years of the pre-Bobby Bowden era in Tallahassee, Florida State had just three NFL first round picks. But under the tutelage of the Hall of Fame head coach from 1976-2009, the Seminoles produced 32 players drafted in the first round on draft weekend, among the most of any school during that stretch. Bowden helped make Florida State one of the top football factories for the NFL.
Seminoles third-year head coach Jimbo Fisher enters the 2012 season with large expectations as his squad is considered the favorites by most to win the ACC. And a large reason for those high hopes is the amount of NFL talent on the Florida State roster. The Seminoles return 17 starters from last season, including nine players on a defense that ranked fourth in the nation last season in total defense. Including underclassmen, Florida State could have the most draft picks of any school in the 2013 NFL Draft. In fact, it's not impossible to think that double-digit Florida State prospects could be drafted next April, possibly coming close to the NFL record of 14 (Ohio State, 2004 NFL Draft).
Top-five prospects for the 2013 NFL Draft
1. DE Bjoern Werner (6-4, 270)*
One of the most enjoyable defensive players to watch in college football is the German-born defensive end from Florida State. A foreign-exchange student, Werner (pictured above) didn't begin playing football until he was 15, instantly falling in love with the sport. He bounced between Germany and the U.S. during high school before choosing to play collegiately at Florida State, choosing the Seminoles over Oregon. Werner saw limited action as a true freshman back-up in 2010 with 20 tackles, 6.0 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. He was named one of the team MVPs the following spring and earned a starting job at left defensive end. Werner turned heads as a sophomore starter last season, making a name for himself as both a pass rusher and run stuffer with his strong, but fast style of play. He finished 2011 with 11.0 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks, just behind Brandon Jenkins for the team lead in both categories. Werner is naturally powerful with the foot quickness and developing technique to set up and defeat blockers at the point of attack. His nonstop motor, love for the game and obvious passion shows up on every play and has NFL scouts thinking first round for the German edge rusher.
2. CB Xavier Rhodes (6-2, 210)*
A high school wide receiver, running back and defensive back, Rhodes moved to the defensive side of the ball for good shortly after enrolling at Florida State. Although he had a rough start at cornerback, he earned his way onto the field as a freshman, but a hand injury ended his season prematurely. However, the injury ended up to be a blessing in disguise because it allowed Rhodes to watch film and learn the subtle nuances of the cornerback position while he redshirted. He returned healthy in 2010 and started all 14 games, emerging as one of the young studs of the Seminoles' defense with 12 pass break-ups and four interceptions. Rhodes failed to match his production last season (four pass break-ups, one interception), but teams tended to stay away from his side of the field. He flirted with the NFL waters after the 2011 season, but decided to return to Tallahassee for 2012, especially after he suffered a knee injury in the bowl win over Notre Dame. Rhodes has imposing size for the cornerback position and is a willing hitter, truly enjoying the physical aspect of playing on defense. He is aggressive at the line of scrimmage and works hard to knock receivers off their route while still showing the quickness and footwork to quickly redirect and run with receivers downfield. Rhodes is one of the more talented cornerbacks at the college level and has first round ability if he stays healthy and becomes more disciplined.
3. DE Brandon Jenkins (6-3, 260)
A local product out of Tallahassee, Jenkins currently ranks sixth on the Seminoles' all-time sacks list (21.5) and could challenge the Florida State career record with a productive senior season (Reinard Wilson, 35.5). He was considered one of the top high school recruits in the state of Florida and received offers from almost every program in the South. But after prepping at Florida State University High School, was there any question where Jenkins was going to play his college ball? After serving as a back-up as a true freshman, he finished third in the nation in sacks as a sophomore with 13.5, adding 21.5 tackles for loss. Jenkins' production took a dip last season as he finished with 8.0 sacks and 12.0 tackles for loss, but both still led the team. He plays with explosive burst off the snap with a quick first step and acceleration to chase down the action. Jenkins lacks prototypical size and struggles to shed, but plays with violent hand usage and does a nice job manipulating his frame to get past blockers. He needs to improve his leverage and consistently play lower to the ground, but both 3-4 and 4-3 teams will be interested in Jenkins in the top-40 picks next April.
4. SS LaMarcus Joyner (5-8, 195)*
Despite his smaller stature, Joyner is considered one of the toughest players on the roster with his physical demeanor and aggressive style of play. The strong safety was a prized cornerback recruit out of high school, choosing the Seminoles over Ohio State and Florida. Joyner was a reserve defensive back in 2010 as a true freshman, playing in all 14 games and recording 23 tackles, three pass break-ups and an interception. He moved to safety full-time in 2011 and earned a starting job as a sophomore, leading Florida State with four interceptions. Joyner is a rangy player with the play speed and instincts to cover the entire field, sniffing out the play and attacking. He is considered one of the strongest practice players on the team and that hard work during the week shows up on game day as he makes up for his smaller size with his production. Joyner is a natural ballhawk who carries himself like a professional, competing on every snap. His lack of size and growth potential will hurt his upside for the next level, but betting against him wouldn't be a wise move.
5. QB EJ Manuel (6-5, 240)
Once considered the top recruit out of high school, Manuel will be one of the more debated quarterback prospects between now and next April. After redshirting in 2008, he made several starts as a freshman and sophomore in relief of an oft-injured Christian Ponder, recording a 4-2 record as a starter. Manuel became the full-time starter last season, starting all but one game and finishing second in the ACC with a 65.3% completion mark. He had only 18 scores through the air, but also threw just eight interceptions, including none over the last five games (121 straight passes). The Virginia native passes the eye test with a tall, strong frame and the arm strength to spin the ball downfield. He has the legs to extend and make plays with 500+ yards rushing the past three years, including seven touchdowns on the ground. Manuel is an intriuging NFL prospect because of his raw physical and athletic tools, but will need to prove to NFL scouts that he is just as talented with the mental part of the game before he is labeled as a top-50 prospect.
RB Chris Thompson
RB Lonnie Pryor
WR Rodney Smith
DE Cornellius Carradine
DT Everett Dawkins
DT Anthony McCloud
DT Jaccobi McDaniel
OLB Christian Jones*
OLB Nick Moody
MLB Vince Williams
CB Greg Reid
K Dustin Hopkins
Photo credit: US Presswire