Draft Departures Put Florida State Backfield in Transition

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Draft Departures Put Florida State Backfield in Transition
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Devonta Freeman (left) and James Wilder Jr. are both leaving early for the NFL draft, meaning Florida State has questions to answer next season at running back.

Florida State proved to be as deep and dangerous as any team in the country this past season, evidenced by a 14-0 record and the program's third national title, but that depth is going to be challenged at the running back position.

First, it was junior James Wilder Jr. declaring early for the NFL draft, which wasn't much of a surprise since he had fallen to third in the backfield rotation and probably wouldn't have seen his role expanded in 2014. Still, at 6'2" and 229 pounds—plus his father was a pretty good ball-carrier in his own right—the Tampa native appears to have a future playing on Sunday as a short-yardage and goal-line specialist.

Conversely, the 'Noles were caught off guard when fellow junior Devonta Freeman, the team's leading rusher two of the last three years, also chose to skip out on his senior campaign.

While the 5'9", 203-pounder is a well-rounded tailback that can do a little bit of everything, this is not a decision in line with like-minded early entries Timmy Jernigan and Kelvin Benjamin—those two have elite skills at defensive tackle and wide receiver, respectively, and are sure to be first-round picks. According to Rob Rang and Co. at CBSSports.com, Freeman will be fortunate to hear his name called by Round 3.

Regardless of when Freeman and Wilder come off the draft board in May, FSU must develop a few fresh faces in the running game, so let's meet the candidates.

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