TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — When Jalen Ramsey is drafted Thursday night, he’ll join an elite club as the 43rd Florida State football player selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. That group includes a Heisman Trophy winner, two Pro Football Hall-of-Famers and too many All-Americans to count. Selecting a top 10 of Seminole first-rounders is no easy task, but we decided to give it a try.
Members of the FSU digital media and sports information staff voted from a list of the program’s 42 first rounders, and the results follow. The criteria tried to give equal weight to both collegiate and pro careers. While there are some obvious names on the list, there are also a few surprises. And while we’re sure not everyone will agree — with the members or the order — we feel that it’s a pretty strong list.
10. Tra Thomas, OL, Drafted 11th overall in 1998
At FSU (1993-97): Thomas started as a senior in 1997 and graded out at 90 percent or better in every game. That was enough to land him the ACC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy, as well as second-team All-America honors from the Associated Press
In the pros (1998-2009): Anchored the offensive line in Philadelphia, where he started 165 of 166 games at left tackle. Made three Pro Bowls (2001, 2002, 2004) and earned All-Pro designation in 2002. Played in Super Bowl XXXIX and was named to the Eagles’ 75th Anniversary Team. Went on to play one season with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2009 and had a brief stint with San Diego in 2010.
9. Jameis Winston, QB, Drafted first overall in 2015
At FSU (2012-14): Became the youngest player to win the Heisman Trophy and quarterbacked the Seminoles to their third national title in 2013. Went 26-1 as a starter and played in the first College Football Playoff game at the Rose Bowl. Other accolades include the Davey O’Brien Award, Walter Camp Player of the Year, Manning Award and multiple All-America honors.
In the pros (2015-present): Became FSU’s first No. 1 overall draft pick when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers picked him first in 2015. Started for the Bucs as a rookie and guided the team to a 6-10 record, a four-win improvement from the year before. Was voted by fans as the Pepsi Rookie of the Year. Tied an NFL rookie record with five touchdown passes in a single game, and became the third rookie QB to throw for 4,000 yards in a season (Cam Newton, Andrew Luck). Earned a spot in the Pro Bowl, where he threw two touchdown passes.
8. Lawrence Timmons, LB, Drafted 15th overall in 2007
At FSU (2004-06): Backed up fellow first-round pick Ernie Sims before becoming a force during his junior season, when he racked up 79 tackles and led the team with 18 tackles for loss and five sacks. Also scored on a 22-yard interception return and 36-yard fumble return on his way to honorable mention All-America status.
In the pros (2007-present): One of the NFL’s steadiest linebackers, Timmons has started 108 of the 110 games he’s played in since 2009. Rated as Pro Football Focus’ first-team All-NFL linebacker in 2010 and earned second-team All-Pro honors in 2014. Played in two Super Bowls and earned a ring in 2008. As he enters his 10th season, Timmons has 867 career tackles and 33 sacks.
T-6. Antonio Cromartie, CB, Drafted 19th overall in 2006
At FSU (2003-05): A Tallahassee native, Cromartie showed flashes of brilliance as a freshman and sophomore before a torn ACL robbed him of his junior year. He scored two defensive touchdowns in 2004 and earned sophomore All-America honors from College Football News. Was primed for a breakout junior season and was in line to perhaps play some receiver before suffering his injury during voluntary summer workouts.
In the pros (2006-present): The Chargers surprised the football world when they picked Cromartie in the first round, despite the fact that he hadn’t played in more than a year due to his injury. Has since been among the NFL’s top defensive backs, earing four Pro Bowl selections (2007, 2012, 2013, 2014), one first-team All-Pro designation (2007) and two All-AFC selections. Led the NFL with an astounding 10 interceptions in 2007, and he added two more during the playoffs. Also owns the longest play in in NFL history, a 109-yard touchdown return after a missed field goal.
T-6. Terrell Buckley, CB, Drafted fifth overall in 1992
At FSU (1989-91): One of the most dominant and memorable players in program history, Buckley left FSU as the school’s all-time interceptions leader (21) and is still has the most interception return yards (501) in college football history. Buckley capped off a stellar junior season in 1991 by earning the Jim Thorpe Award, the Jack Tatum Trophy and consensus All-America honors.
In the pros (1992-2005): Buckley was drafted fifth overall by the Green Bay Packers and went on to enjoy a 14-year NFL career that included 50 interceptions and a Super Bowl XXXVI championship with the New England Patriots. He also posted at least one interception in 13 consecutive seasons.
5. Peter Boulware, DE, Drafted fourth overall in 1997
At FSU (1993-96): Part of FSU’s vaunted 1993 recruiting class, which would go on to produce three of the top 14 picks of the 1997 NFL Draft (JUCO transfer Walter Jones was a fourth), Boulware is arguably the greatest pass-rusher in FSU history. Boulware set a school record with 19 sacks as a junior, which led the nation and helped him earn consensus All-America status. Boulware finished his career 34 sacks, narrowly behind counterpart Reinard Wilson (35.5 sacks) for FSU’s career lead.
In the pros (1997-2005): Boulware didn’t miss a beat in the NFL, posting 11.5 sacks with Baltimore in 1997 en route to defensive rookie of the year honors. He had three double-digit sack seasons, including an AFC-best 15 in 2001, and finished with 70 sacks for his career. Boulware won Super Bowl XXXV with the Ravens and was inducted into the franchise’s Ring of Honor in 2005.
4. Walter Jones, OT, Drafted sixth overall in 1997
At FSU (1995-96): Burst on to the scene as a redshirt junior in 1996, when he moved from guard to tackle and developed into one of the best blockers in the country. Jones earned both second-team All-ACC and second-team All-America honors, and likely would have received many more accolades had he not departed for the NFL after his junior year.
In the pros (1997-2009): One of four former Seminoles in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Jones set the standard for NFL left tackles from 1997-2009. The 6-5, 325-pounder played his entire career with the Seattle Seahawks, with whom he earned nine Pro Bowl selections and six All-Pro designations (four first team, two second team). Jones started all 180 games of his NFL career and was named to the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade team. The Seahawks retired his No. 71 jersey in 2010, the same year that Washington governor Christine Gregoire declared a “Walter Jones Day” throughout the state. He was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014, his first year of eligibility.
3. Warrick Dunn, RB, Drafted 12th overall in 1997
At FSU (1993-96): Among the most beloved figures in FSU football history, Dunn remains Florida State’s all-time leading rusher (3,959 yards) and owns three of the top seven single-season rushing totals in school history. His 37 rushing touchdowns are also second behind only Greg Allen. Dunn played a key role as a freshman on FSU’s 1993 national championship team, and he went on to earn multiple All-ACC and All-America designations.
In the pros (1997-2008): The second Seminole to earn Rookie of the Year honors in 1997, Dunn accounted for 1,440 total yards and seven touchdowns in his first year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Over a 12-year career spent in Tampa Bay and Atlanta, Dunn made three Pro Bowls and is one of just 29 members of the league’s 10,000 yards club. Dunn earned an even more sterling reputation for his works off the field, particularly through his Homes for the Holidays program, through which he has provided home ownership assistance to nearly 150 economically disadvantaged families. As a result, Dunn has received several awards that recognize his charity work, including the prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2004.
2. Derrick Brooks, LB, Drafted 28th overall in 1995
At FSU (1991-1994): One of the pillars of FSU’s national dominance in the early 1990s, Brooks arrived as one of the program’s most highly-touted recruits and left as one of its best of all time. He finished with 274 tackles, 8.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and five interceptions. Brooks is one of seven two-time consensus All-Americans in school history and was perhaps the key defensive figure on FSU’s 1993 national championship team. He is one of three Seminoles in both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame.
In the pros: Another first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, Brooks made an astonishing 11 Pro Bowls during his 14-year career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He made nine All-Pro teams, finished with more than 1,700 career tackles and led the Bucs to their first and only Super Bowl championship in 2002. Brooks has had his jersey retired both by FSU and the Bucs and is a member of the FSU Hall of Fame and the Bucs’ Ring of Honor. He also was named the Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2000, the first of three Seminoles to earn that honor (Warrick Dunn, Anquan Boldin).
1. Deion Sanders, CB, Drafted fifth overall in 1989
At FSU (1985-88): Perhaps the most accomplished athlete in school history, Sanders became infamous across the sports landscape in the 1980s and 90s with his “Prime Time” persona. Sanders, of course, backed up the bravado. He intercepted 14 passes at FSU, a number that might have been higher had opponents not gone out of their way to avoid him. Sanders won the Jim Thorpe Award as a senior in 1988, was elected into the FSU Hall of Fame in 1994 and earned a spot in College Football’s Hall of Fame in 2011.
In the pros (1989-2005): After leaving Florida State, Sanders went on to become arguably the greatest cornerback in NFL history. Across a career that spanned three decades, Sanders earned eight All-Pro selections, 1994 NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors and two NFC Defensive Player of the Year designations. An accomplished kick returner, Sanders also was the league’s Special Teams Player of the Year in 1998 and led the NFL in return yardage in 1992. He played for five different teams and won back-to-back Super Bowls as a member of the 49ers and Cowboys. He was inducted to the Pro Football hall of Fame in 2011, his first year of eligibility.
Marvin Jones, LB (1990-92), drafted fourth overall in 1993
Sebastian Janikowski, K (1997-99), drafted 17th overall in 2000
J.T. Thomas, CB (1970-72), drafted 24th overall in 1973
Corey Simon, DT (1996-99), drafted sixth overall in 2000
Ron Sellers, WR (1966-68), drafted sixth overall in 1969