NFL Draft 2013: Best Landing Spots for Ex-Florida State Studs
Even with a 12-2 record, a No. 10 rank and an Orange Bowl victory, it was still considered somewhat of a disappointing season for a Seminoles squad that had national title hopes. Florida State had one of the best defenses in the country this season, but some of the key parts are going to be lost to this year's draft.
Potential first-rounder Bjoern Werner leads this FSU draft class of 14 players along with cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who is also predicted to go in the first round. But which NFL teams could use some of the more outstanding players coming out of Tallahassee in the 2013 draft?
DE Bjoern Werner
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The consensus around the league is that Bjoern Werner will be a top five pick in this upcoming draft. The 6'4" defensive end from Germany turned a lot of heads this season by racking up 18.0 tackles for a loss and 13.0 sacks, prompting him to enter the draft a year early as a junior.
Werner only started playing football when he was 15 and continues to get better each year. His explosive speed and strength off the edge combined with his incredible stamina and motor has many teams intrigued. Coming in at 256 pounds, the 2012 All-American has tremendous upside for teams desperately needing a pass rush.
Jacksonville and Oakland fit this mold. The Jaguars have the second pick and also recorded the least amount of sacks last season with only 20, which is five less from the second-worst team, Oakland. The Raiders also need to apply more pressure on the quarterback and Werner would be a smart and safe bet for a team that notoriously has drafted busts in the past.
CB Xavier Rhodes
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Yet another part of the Seminoles' stellar defense is entering the draft early, but Xavier Rhodes has all the reason to do so. The 6'1" junior has a long and solid frame for a corner, which makes him one of the top three corner prospects in this year's draft.
Rhodes brings physicality to the secondary by getting super aggressive on tight coverage, and this results in many good plays but puts him at risk for penalties. He may not be the fastest defensive back in the draft, but his size and strength can make him a valuable asset for many defenses in the league.
Fortunately for Rhodes, it looks like he has a great shot to remain in Florida. Predicted to be drafted in the middle of the first round, Rhodes can fall to teams who struggled mightily against the pass last season and that just so happens to be the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Bucs.
With the 13th overall pick, Tampa Bay would love to add Rhodes to their secondary, which allowed a league-worst 297.4 passing yards a game. They have to hope that Miami doesn't scoop him with the 12th pick, however, because the Dolphins allowed 248.4 yards in the air each game and were near the bottom of the league with only 10 interceptions on the season.
QB E.J. Manuel
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The senior quarterback's talent and upside is a very tricky one to gauge, but experts have him landing in the late second round to early third round. E.J. Manuel finished his last season as a Seminole with 3392 yards and 23 touchdowns while completing 68 percent of his passes.
His speed and height sets him apart from the other quarterbacks in this draft, but his decision-making skills and poise in the pocket are questionable. Manuel is certainly not ready to be a starter in the NFL, but he is a great athlete to work on as a project, as well being a dynamic backup.
The team in his projected draft range that fits this the best are the 49ers. Alex Smith will surely be gone by next season, which leaves the unknown Scott Tolzien to back up Colin Kaepernick.
Manuel has the similar body type and athletic ability as Kaepernick and could jump in to run the pistol offense that Jim Harbaugh loves so much. And given the durability of the quarterback position, it is useful to have another quarterback that can run the same system.
OT Menelik Watson
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Standing at 6'5" and weighing 320 pounds, Menelik Watson is a raw talent with huge upside. The England native just began playing football in junior college a few years ago, and is still learning the game. The speed and athleticism for his size make him an attractive pick.
Watson is still a work of progress, but many teams around the league are desperate for pass protection, and they see a physical specimen in Watson that could be shaped into a great tackle in the NFL.
It is hard to determine where Watson could go in the draft based on his lack of experience but tremendous potential. If he falls to the end of the second round/early third round, then it is possible for a team like the Packers to pick him up due to their many offensive line concerns this year. Green Bay gave up 51 sacks last season, which was the second-highest total in the league.
Teams in the early third round that could use some help on the offensive line are the Eagles and the Jaguars, who both were also in the bottom five of sacks allowed a year ago.
OLB/DE Brandon Jenkins
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In the first game of the season, Florida State lost defensive end Brandon Jenkins for the season with a foot injury. The previous year, Jenkins led the Seminoles in tackles for loss and sacks, and was on the brink to have a phenomenal season yet again.
The injury shouldn't hurt his draft stock, but it is tough to see where Jenkins could play in the NFL. He lacks the size to play defensive end and has questionable linebacking instincts. Jenkins does show incredible acceleration and explosiveness, making him a great pass-rusher off the edge.
Projected to go in the third round, Jenkins could end up with teams who can't get to the quarterback and the Bucs could certainly use him considering they only had 27 sacks last season. The Atlanta Falcons also could benefit from someone coming off the edge as they also failed to bring pressure to the quarterback last year.