April 27, 2011
By: Brandon Mellor, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – When it comes to the annual NFL Draft, there are no certainties.
It’s a guessing game. And it’s anyone’s guess as to what will happen Thursday night when the first of seven rounds gets started at 8 p.m. live on ESPN and continues into Friday and Saturday.
Need a perfect example of some of the grade-A speculation out there about this whole process? Look no further than our very own Doak Insider Podcast Mock Draft. There is just no way for us — or anyone else for that matter — to accurately predict how all of the 250-plus selections will unfold.
But it sure was fun to try.
And it’s also fun to think about the impending infusion of Florida State football talent in the NFL.
We may not know which team is going to pick him and at which number and round overall he will be selected, but we do know that Christian Ponder will likely become the highest-drafted quarterback in FSU history.
Offensive linemen Rodney Hudson could be picked early in the second round or he could slip to the late second or early third.
Adding to the uncertainty is the NFL futures of the Seminoles’ other selectable student-athletes: Markus White, Mister Alexander, Kendall Smith, Ryan McMahon and Tavares Pressley. Each of these guys could hear their name called before the final round concludes on Saturday or each could just as easily be poised to try out as an undrafted free agent once the lockout and its myriad of resulting issues is resolved.
Even if Ponder turns out to be the only first-round or even second-round selection from FSU, history shows that selecting a Seminole in any round can be quite fruitful.
The most recent illustration of this logic is Tampa Bay’s seventh-round selection last season. The Bucs, who had already struck gold by nabbing Geno Hayes in the sixth round of the 2008 draft, followed that same draft-a-speedy-‘Nole-linebacker template with their 2010 pick of Dekoda Watson.
Sixth- and seventh-rounders aren’t supposed to become viable contributors but Watson played in 15 of the Bucs’ 16 games as a rookie and posted 31 tackles. Hayes is Tampa Bay’s starter at weakside linebacker and in his third season last year showed flashes of becoming a true defensive playmaker.
Despite being late-round selections, Mario Edwards (sixth round/2000) and Orpheus Roye (sixth round/1996) are two more examples of Seminoles that would go on to have productive pro careers.
As expected, mid-round FSU picks are even more bountiful for the teams smart enough to grab them.
As a fourth-round pick of the New York Jets in 2006, Leon Washington quickly became one of the best special teams players in the entire NFL. On a shortlist of guys that have the ability to change outcomes in the return game, Washington is one of the best in the league when he has the football in his hands.
On the other side of the ball, Darnell Dockett has rewarded the Arizona Cardinals for taking him in the third round of the 2004 draft by becoming a menacing interior lineman at the pro level.
He may not be a perennial Pro Bowl selection like Dockett, but the Atlanta Falcons got tremendous value for tabbing Chauncey Davis in the fourth round in 2005. Davis has become a key defensive cog on a Falcons team that is one of the most talented and balanced squads in the entire league.
The same is true for safety Chris Hope (third round/ 2002), Super Bowl MVP Dexter Jackson (fourth round/1999) and the list goes on and on and on.
And what about Ponder and the FSU fraternity of early selections that he is set to join?
Since 2000, Florida State has had 14 first-round selections (yes, that’s two more than the Gators). Highlighted by cannon-legged kicker Sebastian Janikowski, that list includes the likes of Lawrence Timmons, Ernie Sims, Antonio Cromartie, Brodrick Bunkley, and Kamerion Wimbley. Each of those athletes is a current starter on an NFL team.
The 1980s and 90s saw that list at its most star-studded. Tre Thomas, Warrick Dunn, Derrick Brooks, Walter Jones, William Floyd, Deion Sanders, Terrell Buckley and Sammie Smith were all terrific (and in most cases truly great) professional football players.
Should Ponder drop to the early second round, Greg Jones, Bryant McFadden, Anquan Boldin, Sam Cowart and Samari Rolle are just a few of Tallahassee’s finest that have had Super Bowl-winning and/or Pro Bowl-earning careers.
There is no telling if FSU’s draft-eligible crew will in fact go on to have careers similar to those of so many before them.
But if the NFL Draft is a gamble, the likelihood of a Seminole succeeding is a safe bet — figuratively speaking of course.
For the first time ever, Seminoles.com will live-tweet the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night. Follow along with Ryan Pensy and Brandon Mellor from the Twitter handle @DoakInsider for live updates and thoughts on each selection of the opening round.