NFL Draft 2013 Preview: Florida State Prospects

Can FSU Defensive End Bjoern Werner End Up Being a Top-10 Pick in the Draft?

Can FSU Defensive End Bjoern Werner End Up Being a Top-10 Pick in the Draft?

Leading up to this month’s NFL Draft, we’ll be taking a look at each ACC‘s school’s prospects and where they’re slated to be chosen. While 50 ACC players were invited to the NFL Draft Combine, those not in attendance also have ample opportunity to hear their name called between April 25 through 27.

In 2012, Florida State enjoyed its most successful season in quite some time, riding a collection of senior leadership all the way to ACC and Orange Bowl titles, respectively. The result of that, of course, is a huge crop of players that could potentially find themselves selected in this year’s NFL Draft. The ‘Noles saw 13 (!!!) players invited to the scouting combine in Indianapolis back in February, and a grand total of 15 former FSU standouts could end up having their names called later this month. With so many players to go through, let’s dive in…

Bjoern Werner, DE, Junior (Projected: First Round)

Werner’s one of the best pure pass-rushers in this year’s draft, yet due to the depth of talent available all across the defensive line, he still may end up going in the latter half of the first round. While he’s certainly put up the numbers to warrant a top-10 selection (13 sacks last season), his late-season injury and lack of size in comparison to other DEs (a smaller 6’3″ and 266 pounds) has teams willing to wait. Without true breakout speed — only runs a 4.81 40-yard dash time — it’s tough to see him transitioned to an outside linebacker spot, which means he’ll be playing his natural position wherever he goes. I’d contend that concerns aside, the product out of Germany has less mileage on him than most prospects, which will make a huge difference in his long-term durability.

Cornellius “Tank” Carradine, DE, Senior (Projected: First Round)

Werner’s partner in crime on the defensive line, Carradine’s had a meteoric rise since the start of 2012, when he was just a reserve. Just 11 starts and 11 sacks later, “Tank” is universally projected to be a first-round draft pick. Like Werner, he did have a small injury problem at the end of the season. But without starting for the past three or four seasons, I’d give Carradine the same credit towards durability I also gave his counterpart. He’s got less mileage on him, hence will be more durable in the long run. Besides, with some huge paws and height, it’s tough to reason letting this elite pass-rusher slip through, especially as the NFL’s emphasis on throwing the ball increases.

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ACC Football Top 25 Players of 2012: #4, Bjoern Werner

FSU Defensive End Bjoern Werner Thrived in the Limelight This Season, and Now Heads to the NFL

FSU Defensive End Bjoern Werner Thrived in the Limelight This Season, and Now Heads to the NFL

As part of our 2012 season review, we’re counting down the top 25 players in the ACC this season, from no. 25 to no. 1. Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus completely bulletproof, obviously — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.

No. 4, Bjoern Werner, DE/Florida State(Preseason Rank: NR)

Werner’s junior season was everything FSU could’ve hoped for and more. Thrust into the forefront after Brandon Jenkins‘s season-ending injury in the first week, Werner quickly embraced his role as the team’s premiere pass-rusher. And by the end of the year, he was arguably the ACC’s best pass-rusher as well. His 13 sacks were a conference-high, and tied for second in the country, while his 18 tackles-for-loss were second in the ACC. From game one this year, Werner was a force of nature and among the country’s real game-changing presences on the defensive line. What stands out just as much as the gaudy sack numbers, however, are the amount of pass deflections he managed. No one will make a comparison to the Houston Texans’ J.J. Watt just yet, but Werner did manage to defend seven passes in 2012. As he prepares for a sure early selection in the NFL Draft this April, it’s likely that pro scouts are all eying that unique skill set as well and looking to employ him similarly to Watts.

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ACC Football Top 25 Players of 2012: #6, Cornellius “Tank” Carradine

Tank Carradine Takes His Chance to Start and Runs With It, Tallying Huge Sack Numbers

Tank Carradine Takes His Chance to Start and Runs With It, Tallying Huge Sack Numbers

As part of our 2012 season review, we’re counting down the top 25 players in the ACC this season, from no. 25 to no. 1. Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus completely bulletproof, obviously — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.

No. 6, Cornellius “Tank” Carradine, DE/Florida State (Preseason Rank: NR)

Senior Tank Carradine wasn’t supposed to be a starter this season. That was Brandon Jenkins‘s job. Or it was until he was injured in the Seminoles’ first game, ending his year far too soon. As a result, Carradine, long considered the “best backup defensive end in the country” finally got his chance to show his stuff in a major role, while also benefiting from playing opposite superstar Bjoern Werner. In 11 games (10 starting), the senior wreaked absolute havoc at the line, tallying 80 tackles (high for a D-lineman) along with 11 sacks. It made it virtually impossible to stop the FSU pass-rush with Werner and Carradine coming at teams from both sides, and with two different styles of pursuit. While Werner was utilizing his speed to get to the backfield, Carradine was all about pure force. Though he’s still only projected to be a third-round pick at the Draft (some scouts are concerned about his durability after he was injured in his own season as a starter), there’s a lot of potential for the 6’5″ end to grow his skillset even further at the next level. If there’s a run on D-linemen, he could jump to the second round and serve as a great steal for some lucky team.

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2012 ACC Football Season Recap: Florida State Seminoles

If 2012 Proved Anything, It's That Florida State is Officially "Back" As an Elite Football Program

If 2012 Proved Anything, It’s That Florida State is Officially “Back” As an Elite Football Program

Team: Florida State Seminoles

W-L: 12-2 (7-1)

Postseason: 31-10 Discover Orange Bowl win over Northern Illinois

Top Offensive Performer: EJ Manuel, QB

Top Defensive Performer: Bjoern Werner, DE

Florida State had a checklist prior to this season. The ‘Noles were determined to win 10 games (check, and then some), the ACC Championship Game (check) and the Orange Bowl (check). So why do most accounts of this season seem to view it as a bit of a failure? It might just be a product of Jimbo Fisher succeeding in bringing FSU back to prominence.

Expectations were high for Florida State’s defense, but it was the offense that really needed to deliver if the Seminoles hoped to climb all the way back to the top. With some help of a manageable schedule (just one opponent ended the year ranked), they’d do just that, to the tune of 39.3 points per game (10th in the FBS). FSU outscored their opponents by an average of over 24 points per game, and managed to rank top-40 in both passing and rushing yards per game. For stretches during the season, it seemed as if the offense — led by senior passer EJ Manuel — was absolutely unstoppable, scoring more than 40 points seven different times. In prior years, what alluded. Manuel was consistency, but that was not the case in 2012. His completions, accuracy, yards, touchdowns and passer rating all went up in comparison to last year, as he showed a newfound poise and leadership whether in the pocket or on the run. Despite his own proficiency running the football (he amassed 310 yards and four scores this year), he was still largely helped by efficient play from his running backs. The Seminoles’ 40 rushing touchdowns ranked ninth in the country, made even more impressive by the distribution of the seven scorers, respectively. Devonta Freeman, James Wilder and Lonnie Pryor each scored eight or more times,  while Manuel, leading rusher Chris Thompson and Debrale Smiley each had between three and five. The constant change kept defenses off-balance and provided Manuel with the balanced attack he needed to run this group at optimum efficiency.

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ACC Football 2012 Week 3 Lessons: Pitt Panthers Show Signs of Life Versus Virginia Tech

Pitt Ran the Ball Down Virginia Tech’s Throats on Saturday, Coming Out with a Very Unexpected Upset

Each Monday morning, we compile our top five takeaways from the weekend’s action. Here’s what we got out of Week 3 of ACC football action:

1. Pitt‘s season has been resuscitated: There’s no doubt the Panthers heard the talk about their season being dead in the water (guilty!) and were glad to prove everyone wrong. For a full 60 minutes, it was very easy to forget those first two losses, and instead, see the team we all expected to begin with: fantastic running game, sound defense. Ray Graham looked a lot like his old self, while Rushel Shell is sure to give the rest of the ACC nightmares while imagining him in Pitt’s backfield for the next four seasons.

2. Virginia Tech‘s offense is a major concern: We questioned this unit’s effectiveness in the offseason, and that was before D.J. Coles was lost for the year. Now, with an iffy offensive line, unproven receivers and a very green running game, there’s a lot of concern surrounding how they’ll be able to score points. QB Logan Thomas looked shaky against Pitt, and will need to take full ownership of his role if this team hopes to continue winning ball games.

3. Coastal Division confusion: Georgia Tech was its most impressive team this weekend, but they’ve already lost to Virginia Tech. Miami is 1-0, but there’s uncertainty on defense. North Carolina is ineligible. Virginia was just waxed by the Yellow Jackets. This group has lacked the strength of the Atlantic since the league split into divisions, but 2012 may set a new bar for parity.

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ACC Football 2012 Previews & Prediction: Week 2 (Part Two)

Boston College’s New-Look Offense Hopes to Put Up Big Numbers Against Maine This Weekend

This is Part Two of this week’s Previews & Predictions feature. Also check out Part One.

Maine Black Bears (0-0) at Boston College Eagles (0-1) (0-1): As disappointing as last week’s loss to Miami was, you couldn’t help but notice that spark from BC’s players that’s been missing these past few seasons. New offensive coordinator Doug Martin’s already performed a miracle after Chase Rettig‘s phenomenal passing day, and something tells me we’ll be seeing much more of the same against Maine. If they go five-wide all day I wouldn’t be surprised. The Black Bears are far too rusty to keep up with a team fresh off an exciting, active first game. Prediction: Boston College 48, Maine 20

Austin Peay Governors (0-1) at Virginia Tech Hokies (1-0) (1-0): Austin Peay got absolutely smoked by Western Kentucky last week. So if that’s any indication of the team that will be facing the Hokies, expect this one to be quick. Now, Tech is coming off a short week, having just played on Monday. But a lowly FCS school is exactly what they need to shake off the final cobwebs. The Pistol formation looked like it had a lot of potential, so Logan Thomas would be well-advised to give it some more practice runs against the Governors. Prediction: Virginia Tech 41, Austin Peay 0

North Carolina Tar Heels (1-0) at Wake Forest Demon Deacons (1-0): Two North Carolina schools faced FCS opponents last weekend. One came out of it looking like they had one of the country’s best offenses. The other looked as if they’d struggle to win four games. After tallying 62 points on Saturday, there’s no telling what Larry Fedora’s UNC offense will do next. So long as running back Giovani Bernard‘s knee doesn’t become an issue, they’ll give defenses issues all season. Wake has a defense (sometimes) so it appears they’ll be having some issues. Prediction: UNC 45, Wake 24

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ACC Football 2012 Heisman Watch: Week Two

Following an Impressive Showing Against Auburn, Clemson QB Tajh Boyd Takes the Early Clubhouse Lead as a Heisman Contender

One game down, which means we can start talking about the Heisman trophy in a very general sense and actually have statistics backing it up. These won’t just be a list of the best players, however. We’re also looking at these players with the typical lens — winning team, team’s best player, signature moment (TBD) and statistical excellence. And if every player in the ACC completely drops out of the running, maybe we turn this into the Weinke Award. Just an idea…

1. Tajh Boyd, QB/Clemson (266 total yards/1 TD/1 INT/68.6% completion) (LW: 3)

Boyd was far from perfect in the Tigers’ opener, but he knew what needed to get done in order to help his team get the win. If the running game wasn’t working so well, perhaps he’d have been tasked with passing the ball much more. But, by establishing an effective rushing attack, he was freed up more to take his time and make smart decisions. His numbers are due to go up this week, downgrading from the SEC defense, obviously.

2. Logan Thomas, QB/Virginia Tech (270 total yards/2 TD/0 INT/55.3% completion) (LW: 2)

He was inconsistent in his first game, but nonetheless, still accounted for a large chunk of his team’s offensive output. Contrary to popular belief, he’s not the next Cam Newton or some sort of unstoppable force. But that said, if his offensive line matures quickly, we’ll see his effectiveness ratchet up several notches very quickly. Additionally, the remaining schedule gives him plenty of time to feast on lesser defenses.

3. Giovani Bernard, RB/North Carolina (203 all-purpose yards/3 TD) (LW: NR)

Bernard’s day was cut short due to some knee soreness, so when putting that all into perspective, he managed all of that in just 13 touches. In a full game, there’s no telling the type of damage he’ll be able to inflict. All we know is that right now, he’s one of the nation’s most dangerous runners to bring down in the open field.

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