The Florida State Seminoles have had one of the most prestigious football programs of the last quarter century, no doubt. And while they’ve struggled to replicate the success they found from 1987 to 2000 (152-19, 9 ACC titles, two National Championships) since then, they’re still a national power who pumps out pro prospects as well as any team not coached by Nick Saban. This year is no different.
The ‘Noles have about 14 guys this year that stand a shot at being selected in the 2014 NFL Draft, but to be realistic, about half actually will.
The top prospect overall is up for debate by some, but many have left tackle Cameron Erving as top dog. The 6-foot 6, 320-pounder from Moultrie, Georgia, is a key reason the Seminoles enjoyed the offensive success they did last season (school record 6,591 yards). He actually played defensive tackle until spring of ’12 and has only been dominant since switching sides. He’s got all the skills necessary to be a blindside protector at the NFL level.
Still an underclassmen, Erving, should he choose to declare early after this season, will be in a world-class group of tackles entering the 2014 NFL Draft. Cyrus Kouandjio (Alabama), Jake Matthews (Texas A&M), and Taylor Lewan (Michigan) all look like top ten prospects. James Hurst (UNC), Erving, Antonio Richardson (Tennessee) and Zack Martin (Notre Dame) all look like legitimate first round prospects as well. Erving might be wise to wait another year and compete for the top tackle spot overall in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Many will argue that defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan is actually the top FSU prospect over Erving. Jernigan is the latest in a long line of top defensive linemen hailing from Tallahassee and could be the best pure 3-technique in the entire draft. Any and all teams running a Tampa-2 or cover-2 scheme will be salivating for the penetrating Jernigan, who has 14 tackles for a loss in his 26 game career. Jernigan is a legitimate first round prospect as well.
Outside linebacker Christian Jones, running back James Wilder and free safety/cornerback Lamarcus Joyner all represent the next tier of prospects, who’ll likely fall into the 2nd and 3rd round. All three have been incredibly productive (even by Florida State standards), and all three could dramatically increase their draft stock with strong 2013 seasons.
Safety Terrence Brooks, center Bryan Stork, fullback Chad Abram and middle linebacker Telvin Smith are more upperclassmen who, at this point, are looking like third-day selections.
Look, the bottom line is everyone at Florida State is a draft prospect. Every guy on that roster is good enough to warrant a tryout at worst by an NFL team. That’s just what FSU does, pumps out pro prospects. Now if they can only translate that elite talent into National Championships once again.