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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2012 All-ACC Football Team: Defense

Florida State's Tank Carradine Leads a Parade of Seminoles on the All-ACC Defensive Side

Florida State’s Tank Carradine Leads a Parade of Seminoles on the All-ACC Defensive Side

As most other publications have also done, we’ve put together an All-ACC team here at Atlantic Coast Convos, honoring the best players from the 2012 football season. We’ve also included players from Syracuse and Pittsburgh, as that has always been our policy, and once bowl season is over, all ACC football news will have to involve them anyway. In this post, you’ll find both the first- and second-team defense. Picks for the first- and second-team offense were posted earlier today.

See any selections you agree with? Disagree with? Feel free to voice your concerns in the comments below.

2012 Atlantic Coast Convos All-ACC Team: Defense

First Team

DE Cornellius “Tank” Carradine, Florida State

DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State

DT Joe Vellano, Maryland

DT Sylvester Williams, North Carolina

LB Jack Tyler, Virginia Tech

LB Nick Clancy, Boston College

LB Kevin Reddick, North Carolina

CB Ross Cockrell, Duke

CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State

S Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State

S Earl Wolff, Florida State

PK Dustin Hopkins, Florida State

P Will Monday, Duke

SP Giovani Bernard, North Carolina

Second Team

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ACC Championship Game Preview & Prediction: Florida State vs. Georgia Tech

EJ Manuel and Florida State Are Looking For Their First ACC Title Since 2005

The final ACC contest of the season pits Atlantic Division champion Florida State (10-2) (7-1) against Coastal Division champ Georgia Tech (6-6) (5-3). While FSU has sat atop the conference standings virtually all season, it’s been a long road back from the bottom for the Yellow Jackets, who arrive in Charlotte due to Miami and North Carolina‘s respective postseason ineligibility. These two teams have not faced each other since 2009, a 49-44 barnburner won by Tech. But trust that there’s no love lost here, and both are anxious to earn a trip to the Orange Bowl.

Offense

Florida State possesses more offensive weapons than any ACC team not named Clemson, and yet, their production has been sporadic all season. Yes, they put up 41.3 points per game, but keep in mind that number’s padded by two games against FCS opponents, too. Quarterback EJ Manuel also may have fallen off from his Heisman form earlier in the season, however, when he’s given the reigns to really run this offense (not always the case), he usually impresses. In a season full of positive growth and noted accuracy, last week’s four-turnover debacle must be quickly pushed out of his mind if FSU hopes to leave this game as ACC champs. The best way to beat Georgia Tech is putting them behind early, and with Manuel’s arm, the ‘Noles are more than capable of doing so.

On the Tech side, it’s all about involving the passing game. The biggest criticism with Paul Johnson’s offense has been predictability. Every defense knows they’re going to run the triple-option, so the game-plan hones in on it, and dismisses the pass. Neither Tevin Washington or Vad Lee have the best arms, either, which means they’ll have to pick their spots and throw when the defense gets too comfortable defending the run. As I’ve maintained before, efficiency when throwing the ball — even if it’s just 10-12 times per game — is what makes the triple-option most effective. The Wreck’s struggled with that concept all year, unfortunately, which doesn’t bode well for them here. Advantage: Florida State

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Champs Sports Bowl Recap: Florida State over Notre Dame, 18-14

Florida State's EJ Manuel Led a Fourth-Quarter Seminoles Rally for an 18-14 Champs Sports Bowl VictoryFl

What happened: After a lackluster first three quarters, the Florida State Seminoles rallied in the fourth to beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Champs Sports Bowl, 18-14. In spite of two missed two-point conversions in the period, Florida State’s offense managed to put up the necessary points for an 11-point comeback and four-point win. The Seminoles’ defense was stellar all game, creating three turnovers, including two in the endzone. Their strong play on that side of the ball held the Irish offense at bay just long enough to let FSU quarterback EJ Manuel go to work, connecting on two big passing scores in the final quarter’s first few minutes. For much of the contest, Irish QB Tommy Rees struggled, forcing bad throws and ultimately dooming his team to the close loss with a late pick in the Seminoles’ endzone.

Who’s to blame: Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, for his mostly uninspired gameplan, to start. But mostly, it comes down to an inefficiency for the aforementioned Rees to ever truly get the momentum going on offense — especially when his team was counting on him late in the game. Two endzone interceptions (especially the one with three minutes remaining in the contest) directly removed points off the board for the Irish, and were the exclamation points on a poor evening which saw him complete just 16 of 27 passes, for 163 yards. In spite of holding the lead for three quarters, Notre Dame only had 90 rushing yards, and receiver Michael Floyd was held mostly in check, catching just five passes for 41 yards and a touchdown.

It Was Over When: Tommy Rees threw the aforementioned late interception. Though the final score was decided far earlier, when FSU kicker Dustin Hopkins connected on a 29-yard field goal with about eight minutes to go. Notre Dame was completely shut out in the fourth, and their inability to move the ball, and costly turnovers were what doomed them in the end.

Game Ball Goes To: Manuel, for completing 65 percent of his passes for 249 yards and two late touchdowns. With the running game a non-factor (just 41 total yards on the ground), it was up to Manuel and the passing game to deliver when it mattered most, and they did. Consideration also goes to FSU receiver Rashad Greene, who caught five passes for 99 yards and a touchdown — which ended up being the go-ahead score with 13 minutes to play.

Prediction Update: As predicted, it was a close game between these two storied programs, with the contest ultimately coming down to a fourth-quarter rally. With the Florida State win, that now moves me up to 2-1 on the ACC bowl season, with six contests still to go. Same goes for the ACC, which is trying to notch a .500 bowl record for the first time since 2006.

Atlantic Coast Convos All-ACC Team (Offfense)

Tajh Boyd is All-ACC First-Team, Despite Recent Struggles

The Atlantic Coast Convos All-ACC Team honors the best players at each offensive position. We’ve provided a list of both first- and second-team selections based on what we’ve observed throughout the season. Feel free to disagree, however, since we did on several of the official ACSMA list.

First Team

Quarterback: Tajh Boyd, Clemson

Running Back: David Wilson, Virginia Tech

Running Back: Giovani Bernard, North Carolina

Wide Receiver: Sammy Watkins, Clemson

Wide Receiver: Dwight Jones, North Carolina

Tight End: Dwayne Allen, Clemson

Offensive Tackle: Blake DeChristopher, Virginia Tech

Offensive Tackle: Oday Aboushi, Virginia

Offensive Guard: Omoreggi Uzzi, Georgia Tech

Offensive Guard: Austin Pasztor, Virginia

Center: Dalton Freeman, Clemson

Kicker: Dustin Hopkins, Florida State

Special Teamer: T.J. Graham, NC State

Second Team

Quarterback: Mike Glennon, NC State

Running Back: Lamar Miller, Miami (FL)

Running Back: Andre Ellington, Clemson

Wide Receiver: Chris Givens, Wake Forest

Wide Receiver: Conner Vernon, Duke

Tight End: George Bryan, NC State

Offensive Tackle: Zebrie Sanders, Florida State

Offensive Tackle: James Hurst, North Carolina

Offensive Guard: Jaymes Brooks, Virginia Tech

Offensive Guard: Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina

Center:Tyler Horn, Miami (FL)

Kicker: Chandler Catanzaro, Clemson

Special Teamer: Sammy Watkins, Clemson

Breakdown by Team: Clemson (7), UNC (4), Virginia Tech (3), NC State (3), Florida State (2), Miami (2), Virginia (2), Duke (1), Georgia Tech (1), Wake Forest (1)

Check out the All-ACC Defensive Team, too.