Alex Turko (@aturko_23)
Florida State has 15 draft eligible prospects that hope to hear their name called in this weekend’s NFL draft. There is an outside shot that five former Seminoles will be drafted Thursday night in the first round. Having such a large group of athletes move on to the NFL speaks volumes to the turn-around that coach Jimbo Fisher has performed in Tallahassee.
In the past six years, only three Seminoles gone in the first round. This year the Noles’ could have that many players go within the first 32 picks, which would be an testament to the Seminole coaching staff on the evaluation of talent and then developing them into great players. Jimbo Fisher will be in New York to support his four former players that made the trip to Radio City Music Hall. Producing that many NFL players is a huge recruiting tool because you can show players that if they decide to play at FSU they have a good shot at achieving their goal to play in the NFL.
Here are my projected Seminoles to go in the first round.
Pick 13. New York Jets- Xavier Rhodes Cornerback
I think that this could be a tad early for Rhodes, but if the Jets are unable to trade up to get Dee Milliner, I believe that they nab the physical corner from Florida State with their second first round pick (they have the 9 pick also). Rhodes has a very similar skillset to the recently departed Darrelle Revis, but actually has a bigger frame. Both players like to jam at the line of scrimmage and have excellent hands. I think that Rhodes would complement Antonio Cromartie very well to give the Jets a good secondary to match-up with their division foe New England Patriots.
Pick 19. New York Giants- Cornellius “Tank” Carradine Defensive End
Picture Justin Tuck, Jason Perrie-Paul and Carradine rushing the quarterback! The Giants lost pass rushing specialists Osi Umenyiora (D-end) and Chris Canty (D-tackle) in free agency and would love to add an elite player that plays well against both the run and the pass. Tank tore his ACL in the final regular season game against Florida and has already recovered enough to work out for scouts. He displayed an impressive work ethic by recovering from an ACL tear in about 5 months. Tank is extremely strong and can set the edge against the run but is also surprisingly fast (ran a 4.75 forty) and can cover a lot of ground on offensive players. Carradine also has shown his ability to get after the quarterback, posting and impressive 11 sacks last season. Tank Carradine reminds me of Justin Tuck and putting them on the same roster along with the best young pass-rusher in the NFL in Perrie-Paul, this pick makes a lot of sense.
Pick 22. St. Louis Rams- Menelik Watson Offensive Tackle
I have the Rams taking Tavon Austin with their first pick at 16, then having them taking Watson to improve the weak right tackle position where he would be an upgrade over Rodger Saffold. The Rams picked up Jake Long in free agency so adding the athletic Watson to play on the right should keep the injury-prone quarterback Sam Bradford upright.
Pick 30. Atlanta Falcons- Bjoern Werner Defensive End
Werner has slipped in this draft process but shouldn’t fall out of the first round. He has an elite motor and quick burst off the line, and uses his hands about as well as anyone in the country. The Falcons picked up Osi Umenyoira in free agency, but Osi is strictly a pass rusher on third downs, or obvious passing downs. The Falcons lost effective veteran, John Abraham this year and adding Werner will give them a young talent to play on the defensive line for years to come. Werner plays the run and pass equally well, and has never had any injury problems. If Werner makes it past the Colts, Vikings and Broncos, I think his talent is too impressive for the Falcons to pass on.
The Nole that just missed the first round
E.J. has been soaring up draft boards during the evaluation periods and people think that his potential alone is a reason to take a risk on him. I think if Manuel finds the right system and has the luxury of sitting behind a veteran for a couple years, he could have a successful career when his time comes. Some have Manuel sneaking into the first round but I have Geno Smith slipping in my mock draft, which causes the snowball effect, pushing Manuel out of the first round.
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