Losing 18 players to the NFL draft the past two seasons can remove plenty of talent from a roster.
But even after having seven drafted by the NFL in May, and needing to replace five starters on each side of the ball for the 2014 season, Florida State has plenty of strengths and not many glaring weaknesses. Secret weapons? FSU has a few of those, too, but there aren't many simply because coach Jimbo Fisher has given playing time to true or redshirt freshmen the past few years.
The 2014 season could again be a good one—possibly a year that brings FSU another national title. Why? The roster is deep and there are few areas of concern.
Let's take a look at the strengths, weaknesses and secret weapons of the 2014 Seminoles.
Start with coach Jimbo Fisher, who has revitalized a program that struggled in the final years of the Bobby Bowden era. Now, Fisher is 45-10 with a national title and two ACC championships in four seasons.
Jameis Winston, the Heisman Trophy winner in 2013, displayed the decision-making abilities of a senior despite being just a redshirt freshman. He has a strong, accurate arm and uses his mobility to buy time and elude pass rushers. He threw for 4,057 yards and a school-record 40 touchdowns.
What makes the offense so good is not just Winston—it's the talent surrounding him. Rashad Greene is a playmaker, and a consistent one at that. He had 76 receptions for 1,128 yards and nine touchdowns in 2013. But FSU also has tight end Nick O'Leary, a Mackey Award finalist who has 11 career touchdowns.
The stat that often gets overlooked by Winston's passing numbers is that FSU had 42 touchdowns in the air and 42 touchdowns on the ground. How's that for balance? And while the Seminoles lost Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. to the NFL, the backfield is deep with Karlos Williams, Ryan Green, Mario Pender and 5-star Dalvin Cook, an early enrollee this spring.
FSU also returns four seniors on the offensive line—led by left tackle Cameron Erving, the ACC's Jacobs Blocking Trophy winner.
The defensive backfield is loaded with talent, and it's why FSU likes to play a nickel defense so frequently. P.J. Williams and Ronald Darby are tough, physical corners. Jalen Ramsey and Nate Andrews impressed at safety, playing like veterans instead of the true freshmen that they were in 2013. Tyler Hunter returns from a neck injury to fight for playing time at safety, and early enrollee Trey Marshall was praised by Fisher in the spring.
Roberto Aguayo made 21 of 22 field-goal attempts and was named the Lou Groza Award winner. He was consistent but also showed a strong leg.
After Greene and O'Leary, there is no established, consistent pass-catcher, but FSU has a number of options at No. 2 receiver. It could be a senior like Scooter Haggins or Christian Green or a sophomore like Jesus Wilson, Kermit Whitfield or Isaiah Jones. The Seminoles also landed a trio of receivers in the class of 2014—Travis Rudolph, Ermon Lane and Javon Harrison. Expect them to need time to learn Fisher's offense but contribute more in the second half of the season.
Punter Cason Beatty averaged 41.1 yards per punt last season but has been inconsistent.
There is no replacing defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, who was a second-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens. The other starting defensive tackle, Eddie Goldman, was a first-year starter as a sophomore in 2013 but needs to continue to make progress.
Most of FSU's secret weapons are known quantities by now. But here are a few names to watch out for in 2014.
The deep receiving corps includes the 5'7" Whitfield and 5'9" Wilson. FSU has plenty of receivers who are taller than 6-feet, but there is certainly an opportunity for Whitfield and Wilson to use their speed in three- or four-wideout sets and catch passes.
Kevin Haplea has also come back from a knee injury suffered last summer. While known more as a blocker than receiver, Haplea allows Fisher to use more sets with two tight ends, and that versatility on offense opens up more options for the Seminoles.
Ramsey and Andrews stood out as true freshmen on the defense in 2013. Marshall could be the freshman that emerges in 2014, whether he's playing nickel corner or safety.
Bob Ferrante is the Florida State Lead Writer for Bleacher Report, all quotes obtained first-hand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bob on Twitter. All stats are from seminoles.com and recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.
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