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 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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