Florida State Football: How Will NFL Draft Departures Impact Seminoles?

Perry KostidakisContributor IJanuary 10, 2014

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 06:  Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin #1 of the Florida State Seminoles catches a 2-yard pass for a touchdown to take a 33-31 lead in the final moments of the fourth quarter during the 2014 Vizio BCS National Championship Game at the Rose Bowl on January 6, 2014 in Pasadena, California. Florida State lead 34-31 after a successful extra point.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

TALLAHASSEE, FL: As the saying goes, "you win some, you lose some."

In Florida State's case, you win big, and you're losing a few. 

Some players have decided that they will return to school, namely key players like running back Karlos Williams Sr., tight end Nick O'Leary, offensive lineman Josue Matias, wide receiver Rashad Greene and offensive lineman Cameron Erving. 

"I'm very excited that Karlos, Josue and Nick have decided to stay and continue their careers at Florida State," head coach Jimbo Fisher said. "They're more pieces to the puzzle of our success. They've all contributed to helping the program get to where we are today. We believe another season will help them continue to develop and expand on their NFL potential."

But in the case of early NFL draft departures, the Seminoles are losing some key names—the biggest of those perhaps being Kelvin Benjamin, who was the hero of last Monday's 34-31 title-clinching win over Auburn in the BCS Championship. 

Benjamin, who at 6'6" is a physical specimen, has heard that he could be a first-round draft choice and, rightly so, is making the jump. Joining him are defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan and running back James Wilder Jr. Running back Devonta Freeman may also make the jump to the next level. 

How will this impact the Seminoles going forward? 

Namely, Florida State will have to find a constant jump-ball threat to replace Benjamin, who was known for his constant ability to leap over defenders and bring down key catches. With a wide receiving core that features playmakers like Rashad Greene, Kermit Whitfield, Christian Greene, up-and-coming underclassmen Isaiah Jones and Jesus "Bobo" Wilson and recruits like Travis Rudolph and, possibly, Ermon Lane, this might be an easier task than some expect. 

On the running back end, should FSU lose Freeman as well, in his and Wilder's place will be Williams, Ryan Green, Mario Pender and Dalvin Cook, all very good running backs. Though Wilder and Freeman are both very good backs, the Seminoles shouldn't skip a beat in their run game. 

Timmy Jernigan's exit could have the most impact, as he was instrumental in one of the nation's best defensive lines. He's on many a person's first-round draft board and for good reason.  

"Timmy was one of the leaders on our defense and a big part of our success these past three seasons," Fisher said. "He was one of the most dominant defensive lineman I've been around in all my years coaching. Not only was he a dynamic football player, but he was also a great person. We expect Timmy to be very successful at the next level and we wish him the best."


Florida State features one of the most talented and depth-heavy defensive lines in the country, and in Jernigan's place will most likely be Nile Lawrence-Stample, Eddie Goldman or Justin Shanks. 

Though losing experience and skill is never good for a team, Jimbo Fisher has set up Florida State in the same way as the other great teams in college football: reload, never rebuild. The Seminoles lost 11 players to the NFL draft last season and improved their record by two games. 2013 was supposed to be the rebuilding year, so one can only imagine what 2014 will have in store.