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 Preseason Power Rankings 2012

Kyle Fuller and the Virginia Tech Defense Are a Large Part of the Team’s High Ranking Coming Into 2012

Just days before kickoff, we’ve compiled our final offseason power rankings before the new ACC football season begins. Starting after week one (this weekend), these will go back to their typical, weekly format. Read the full rankings below, and enjoy the season!

1. Florida State Seminoles (LW: 1): Florida State’s hype has gone through the roof as we’ve gotten closer to the season. On top of the typical talk of an ACC title, notable pundits have also pegged them as a true national title contender (and perhaps, winner, too). In the end, it’ll all come down to EJ Manuel‘s readiness to take them to the next level. It’s obvious the defense is fully capable already, despite the loss of Greg Reid (not as vital as some would have you think).

2. Clemson Tigers (LW: 2): Things won’t be easy without game-changing receiver Sammy Watkins during the first two games of the season. But there’s still plenty of firepower in this offense, even in his absence. We know they can score. But unfortunately, we’re still unsure whether or not this defense can stop anyone. Week one versus Auburn will be a tough test early on.

3. Virginia Tech Hokies (LW: 3): As always, the Virginia Tech defense (led by Kyle Fuller) is on board. Now, we’ll have to see just how well this revamped Hokies offensive line holds up. If Logan Thomas can get some time to throw — instead of being relegated to scrambling too often — they’ll be just fine.

4. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (LW: 5): Manageable schedule, veteran group; the whole thing seems to lead to a big year for the Ramblin’ Wreck. The key, as mentioned far too many times before, is Tevin Washington‘s ability to throw the ball. If he’s made strides, and the passing game at least appears to be a threat to the defense, the triple-option becomes that much more dangerous.

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ACC 2012 Season Preview: Florida State Seminoles

If Florida State Wants to Win the ACC in 2012, They’ll Need the Offense, Led by E.J. Manuel, to Produce

Team: Florida State Seminoles

2011 W-L: 9-4 (5-3)

Head Coach: Jimbo Fisher (19-8; two seasons)

Returning Starters: 17 (9 Offense, 8 Defense)

After what had appeared like ages to ‘Noles fans, 2011 was supposed to be the “return to glory” for a team that at one point finished in the top five for 14 straight seasons. But a 2-3 start derailed it all in a hurry, and once again, we entered wait-and-see mode, a common occurrence over the past decade in Tallahassee. By most standards, the Seminoles were successful in how they rebounded to win seven of their final eight games, en route to a 9-4 overall record last year. However, Florida State doesn’t operate by “most standards.”

Florida State’s overall offensive production (30.9 points per game) may look impressive, but then you see that they only put up 22.7 per game in seven contests against bowl-bound teams. Peering even further into the schedule, you’ll also find that FSU beat just five FBS teams with winning records — the first such win not appearing until October 29 against NC State. But of course, that was last year’s team.

This year’s team faces an even more manageable schedule, and thus, promises to put up even more impressive point totals. The group is also more talented, however, though they’ll be counting on senior QB E.J. Manuel in order to harness all that talent. While he struggled for efficiency at times last year, he still managed to progress into a competent, confident passer; one that threw for 2,666 yards and 18 scores with a 65-percent completion rate. With another year under his belt, and an experienced offensive line in front of him, you’d only figure he’d improve in 2012. But he’ll also need to see more from his receivers. Despite the nice stat sheet for Manuel, he still doesn’t have a true number-one target and instead deals with an inconsistent group of experienced receivers. Sophomore Rashad Greene will likely enter the season as the top receiver, though nothing’s carved in stone. His fellow wide receivers Rodney Smith and Cristian Green are equally likely to push for minutes and catches, making it anything but a clear-cut decision.

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