April 24, 2013
Seminoles.com Managing Editor
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Thursday night through Saturday figures to be an exciting time for the Florida State football program as the Seminoles will be featured from start to finish during the NFL Draft live on ESPN and NFL Network.
The ‘Noles enter the annual league college-selection process with 14 combined draft choices in the last five drafts but could come close to matching that tota
Speaking of that foursome, Florida State could have that many — or maybe even five — players drafted in the first round (Menelik Watson included) and that would be a new school record. The Seminoles produced four first-round picks in 2006 and 1997.
The 1995 draft featured 10 combined ‘Noles, which is the school record for most selections in one season.
All the action gets started Thursday at 8 p.m. with rounds two and three set to begin at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Rounds four through seven with then start Saturday at noon and Seminoles.com will have complete coverage from start to finish over the course of the three-day event.
Cornellius Carradine // Defensive End
Nobody has seen their stock in the 2013 NFL Draft rise more than Carradine in the past few weeks. Considered by many to be the best defensive end in the draft had he not been injured in FSU’s game against Florida last year, Carradine’s improved health has sent waves throughout league offices.
Last weekend, Carradine showed just how hard he’s been working to rehabilitate the torn ACL he sustained against the Gators when he held his own private workout in Cincinnati, Ohio for NFL scouts. Still not quite 100 percent, he looked remarkably close to it considering the knee injury occurred just five months ago.
Standing 6-foot-4 and weighing a chiseled 273 pounds, Carradine excelled in each drill and ran a 4.75 40-yard dash with a 1.63 10-yard split — eye-popping numbers for an athlete that big and still coming back from injury. (Watch the video here) Considered to be a likely second-round pick before his workout, Carradine most likely vaulted himself into the first round with that performance.
Everett Dawkins // Defensive Tackle
A steady and reliable player for the ‘Noles during his five-year career, Dawkins posted 26 total tackles, 1 1/2 tackles for loss and a half sack as a redshirt senior in 2012. He’s projected to be selected no sooner than the third day of the draft.
Dawkins ran a 5.06 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and then followed that time with a 5.03 at FSU’s Pro Day last month. He also generated 23 repetitions on the bench press and recorded vertical and broad jumps of 30.0 and 103.0, respectively when he was working out in Indianapolis, Ind.
Despite playing in the middle throughout his collegiate career and at that same spot in the Senior Bowl, Dawkins could potentially find himself at defensive end at the next level if a team is interested in utilizing his athleticism and above-average quickness off the edge. Dawkins is regarded by ESPN.com as the 17th-ranked defensive tackle in the entire draft.
Dax Dellenbach // Longsnapper
Dellenbach made an impact at Florida State as a former walk-on that did enough to earn a scholarship as the team’s longsnapper. Unfortunately, he plays a position that is not typically drafted and instead will aim for latching on with an NFL team as an undrafted free agent in the days following the annual selection process.
It’s an uphill battle for sure, but not one that can’t be traversed. Dellenbach has to look no further than former ‘Noles longsnapper Garrison Sanborn, who has built a strong career as the starter at that position for the Buffalo Bills.
Sanborn went unselected in the 2009 draft before signing with the Bills on May 5, 2009. He has since played in every one of Buffalo’s game since 2009.
Daniel Glauser // Offensive Tackle
Glauser battled with Watson during his one and only season at FSU last year and started two games at right tackle when Watson was out with injury.
Like Watson, Glauser is an athletic blocker with an upside once he develops from more experience. But while Watson could hear his name called in the first round Thursday night, Glauser isn’t projected to be selected in the draft’s seven rounds. If he in fact does go undrafted, the Switzerland native will have the opportunity to speak with teams and ideally choose an NFL squad to work out for and possibly earn an undrafted free agent deal.
Glauser benefits from the fact that he has an athletic and muscular frame that can either add pounds needed for the rigors of the offensive line, or perhaps drop weight and attempt to make a name for himself as a raw tight end with blocking experience. Glauser ran a 5.18 40-yard dash at FSU’s pro day.
Dustin Hopkins // Kicker
He plays a position that nobody can ever predict as far as drafts go, but as one of the most accomplished players at his position in college football history, one has to think that Hopkins is going to hear his name called at some point.
Hopkins’ long range and consistency are coveted traits for kickers and he undoubtedly will get an opportunity — the only question remains is where and in what round will his professional fate be made known? The man with the golden cleats isn’t too concerned.
“I figured that it’s the Lord’s will for the good or bad,” Hopkins said. “It’s just part of His will. I think it’s more exciting regardless. Getting picked up and this whole process. I’ll keep up with it because I’ve got brothers doing it but at the same time I will probably just be at home, maybe swimming in my back yard, I don’t know. I’ll pay closer attention later in the second day and on the third.”
“Lord willing, I’m in with a team,” he added. “I figured that I’ve done what I needed to do and as good as I could do it.”
Brandon Jenkins // Defensive End
Jenkins is an interesting prospect because NFL teams don’t know exactly what they are going to get from the former Florida State defensive end. A star pass rusher that flirted with leaving early for the NFL following his junior year in 2011, Jenkins returned to school only to be lost for the year in the first game of the season in 2012 and has been working diligently since then to regain his form.
Jenkins was invited to the NFL Combine but didn’t run the 40-yard dash, instead opting to wait just a little longer and run at FSU’s pro day. Inside Doak Campbell Stadium in mid-March, Jenkins ran a 5.07 and clearly still wasn’t 100 percent. He is expected to be fully healthy in time for training camp later this year but his status this week is very much up in the air in terms of draft positioning.
A player that was once considered a possible first-round pick before his injury, Jenkins could go anywhere on the second and third days of the draft.
EJ Manuel // Quarterback
Quarterbacks are always the talk of the draft and with so many potential landing spots for a group of signal callers without a clear-cut No. 1, the intrigue surrounding the position is at an all-time high this year. Manuel is right at the heart of that, too, as the former ‘Noles’ quarterback has seen his stock steadily rise since the conclusion of the 2012 season thanks to strong showings at the Senior Bowl (where he was named MVP), the NFL Combine and at FSU’s pro day. His name and face have been plastered across virtually every major sports website and he even made the rounds this week across a variety of ESPN television and radio shows.
So where will Manuel wind up? Since former Oregon coach Chip Kelly took the Eagles’ job, Manuel has been linked to Philadelphia in some capacity.
“I think EJ Manuel would be really interesting in Philadelphia,” NFL analyst Mike Mayock said. “He’s raw as can be, he’s got a big arm, and he’s very athletic. That’s kind of why I moved him up six weeks or eight weeks ago to my second quarterback because I think his upside is better than all the other quarterbacks in the draft, except for Geno [Smith].”
The Eagles have the draft’s No. 4 overall selection and are not expected to draft Manuel — or any other quarterback — that early, so a Manuel-to-Philadelphia selection would have to occur in the second round. Many of the most popular mock drafts across the web seem to feature more and more first-round slots for Manuel so there could be some interesting wheeling and dealing behind NFL closed doors between any quarterback-needy team to secure his services at some point Thursday night.
Anothony McCloud // Defensive Tackle
McCloud wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine despite his run-stuffing repuation at Florida State. A former junior college player, McCloud played two years for the Seminoles on a stacked defensive line that consistently rotated players.
At FSU’s pro day, the strong defensive tackle ran a 5.24 40-yard dash and notched a 28.5 verticle jump and 8-foot-5 broad jump.
McCloud is not expected to be selected on the first two days of the draft but could poteintally sneak his way into a day-three selection for a team that is focused on adding depth, size, strength and an ability to halt the run in one of the latter rounds.
Nick Moody // Linebacker
After switching from safety to linebacker for his senior season this past year, Moody spent one year at his new position for the ‘Noles and earned an NFL Combine invite.
During his time at Lucas Oil Stadium, Moody ran a 4.71 40-yard dash and did 17 repetitions on the bench press. During his time at FSU, the Philadelphia, Pa. native was known for his big-hit and run-stopping ability. His experience playing in the secondary could be a bonus, too, as NFL teams are always in need of capable linebackers that line up one-on-one against the elite pass-catching tight ends that have taken over the league.
According to ESPN, Moody is considered the 18th-ranked outside linebacker in the 2013 draft class and, if drafted, would likely be a late-round selection on Saturday.
Lonnie Pryor // Running Back
Pryor is considered by ESPN to be the draft’s No. 2-ranked fullback prospect but his versatility makes him an intriguing running back option, too.
A do-it-all fixture in FSU’s backfield the past four seasons, Pryor capped off his career with an MVP performance in the Orange Bowl that NFL scouts were sure to take notice of because he earned that award with his legs and speed — not his stellar blocking ability.
Pryor could make a handsome living as a longtime NFL fullback but his ability to carry the football could make him a valuable commodity once the draft gets into the middle rounds. He is expected to get selected anywhere from the third round to the seventh round and whatever team selects him will benefit from his off-field ability just as much as his on-field skills.
Pryor had a strong showing at the NFL Combine that further bolstered his stock when he ran a 4.7 40-yard dash.
Greg Reid // Cornerback
Reid’s journey has been well documented and the former FSU defensive back/return man is hoping that the next step in that journey is an opportunity in the NFL.
The Orlando Sentinel’s Coley Harvey has a detailed account of Reid’s story, which includes his starring role at FSU to his dismissal from the program to the torn ACL he sustained while preparing to play his senior season season at Valdosta State to his rehabilitation process in South Florida with former teammate Jermaine Thomas. (Read Harvey’s article here)
Reid’s draft projections are tough to gauge. Still working his way back from that knee injury and undersized as far as NFL defensive backs go, professional teams might be intrigued by Reid’s stellar ability to make special teams magic with the football in his hands. If drafted, it would likely be late in selection process. If undrafted, it’s hard to imagine Reid not getting an opportunity as a free agent.
Xavier Rhodes // Cornerback
The best cornerback in the draft? Alabama’s Dee Milliner is certainly in that conversation but Rhodes’ stock has pushed him higher and higher up draft boards since he declared for early entrence into the league after FSU’s Orange Bowl win.
Rhodes’ NFL Combine performance started the top-15 selection train when he reeled off a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash and posted an eye-popping 40.5 vertical jump. NFL teams loved those numbers and his size as he fits the mold of the new-breed cornerback in the NFL, which is big enough and strong enough to match up with the Julio Jones and Calvin Johnsons of the world.
Rhodes isn’t necessarily a “lock” for the first round but he is certainly close. Many expect the former FSU defender to be selected somewhere within the first 15 picks Thursday night.
Rodney Smith // Wide Receiver
Smith caught a pass in a school-record 39 consecutive games so NFL decision makers know that he can be consistent. They also know that 6-foot-5 wide receivers aren’t overly common either and you can’t teach height.
Despite those traits, Smith’s name doesn’t come up too often in many early- to mid-round mocks so if selected he’ll likely hear his name announced on the thid day of the draft.
Whichever team does decide to draft the Miami, Fla. native will be getting a player that ran a speedy-for-his-size 4.51 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. If selected, Smith would become the first FSU wide receiver to be drafted since 2007 when the Tennessee Titans made Chris Davis a fourth-round pick.
Toshmon Stevens // Defensive End
Stevens wasn’t a starter at defensive-end talent-rich Florida State and probably won’t be selected in the 2013 NFL Draft.
But NFL teams have definitely seen tape of the lanky pass rusher and know that he excelled as a special teams player for the Seminoles.
His speed and tackling ability on kick- and punt-coverage teams made him an unsung hero for the Seminoles and a professional squad may take a chance on him as an undrafted free agent when the dust settles on this year’s selection process. His athleticism is his calling card and Stevens could find an opportunity because of it.
Chris Thompson // Running Back
NFL teams know that Thompson probably would have become the first FSU tailback to rush for at least 1,000 yards in a season since Warrick Dunn. They know he’s fast, is an excellent blocker, has tremendous leadership skills, is smart and has the strength of a man twice his size.
But they also know about his injury history and the fact that he stands 5-foot-8 and under 200 pounds. In the NFL, the playing careers of running backs are typically short lived because of the nature of the job and Thompson probably never would have been an every-down rusher even without the back and knee injuries that halted his 2011 and 2012 seasons, respectively.
But that doesn’t mean that Thompson has no chance. While probably a longshot to be drafted, he almost assuredly will earn an undrafted free agent opportunity if he isn’t selected because teams respect him and know that, when healthy, he can be a game-breaking scoreboard changer.
“It’s been pretty hard but the way I look at this is when I hurt my back, I came back better,” Thompson said last month about his rehabilitation from the season-ending injury he sustained at Miami in October. ” I’m just trying to come back and step it up another level.”
Menelik Watson // Offensive Tackle
The 2013 NFL Draft prospect with perhaps the most interesting career story up to this point, Watson could potentially be a first-round draft selection Thursday night — not bad for a former Marist men’s basketball player that still has played less than 25 games of football in his entire life.
Watson came to FSU last year as an inexperienced junior-college offensive tackle with tremendous athleticism and upside and now he’s heading to the NFL as an inexperienced Division I offensive tackle with that same tremendous athleticism and upside. After taking control of the right tackle job last fall and starting nearly every game there in his only season at FSU, Watson has NFL personnel intrigued by his strength, raw-but-talented skill set and footwork.
Watson is viewed as a short-term project but potential long-term star at either tackle position and should he slip into the second round, is expected to be one of the first names off the board during the draft’s second day.
“No, not really,” Watson said, when asked if he can believe his career has evolved this way. “But at the same time I get to play football and that was my goal. I don’t want it to sink in until I’m retired in like 17 years. It’s great.”
Bjoern Werner // Defensive End
Werner is a polarizing figure in this year’s draft. At one point regarded as a consensus top-five prospect, the German-born pass rusher has seen his stock fall a bit in recent months and the debates have steadily increased about where he should be slotted in the draft.
At worst, Werner could be selected early in the second round but he seems to most often be projected as a late first-round selection. Like Watson, that’s not bad considering his background. Werner is still relatively new to the game after picking it up as a teenager in Germany and then coming to the United States to compete at a prep school in Connecticutt. Werner played three years at FSU before declaring early for the draft.
Along with Manuel, Watson and Rhodes, Werner is in New York City for the draft and his family even flew over from Germany to be with him.
“Same as I do,” Werner said, when asked what his wife thinks of the whole draft process. “We can sit back and relax now. We can’t put too much pressure on ourselves. We’re going to be in the NFL soon so just knowing that. We’re going to travel to a new city, we don’t know which one. That’s the crazy thing. Especially from Germany, a lot of people have a home here in the states. I’m just going to be traveling.”
Vince Williams // Linebacker
A notable NFL Combine snub, Williams has prepared for the draft with a chip on his shoulder since the 2012 season came to an end — and it just may pay off.
After generating a buzz at the Senior Bowl in which he led his team in tackles, Williams’ stock has steadily risen and could now be a day-three selection for a team in need of a capable tackler and leader at the middle linebacker position.
Williams is listed by ESPN as the ninth-best inside linebacker prospect in the draft. He ran a 4.78 40-yard dash at FSU’s pro day last month.