32 RB James Wilder Jr. (6’2″ 230 pounds, JUNIOR)
Wilder Jr. is part of a Florida State backfield that is extremely talented, but also losing leading rusher Chris Thompson (Redskins) to the NFL. Wilder was third on the team in rushing, but actually was only one carry off of the team lead (110) and led the team with 11 rushing scores. Last season, the Florida State rushing attack was one of the best in the country, rushing for over 2,800 yards and 40 touchdowns, and Wilder was a huge reason why.
He is a big bodied back who doesn’t have too much mileage on his legs, and he is still really young. He is physical with good vision, and he has exceptional speed for his size. Keeps his legs charging along, and has really good balance and burst through the hole. Rarely goes down on first contact and seeks out defenders to run through. He can be elusive when he needs to and can also play some special teams. I expect Wilder Jr. to emerge in 2013 as one of the top RB prospects in the country, and he looks like he has high day two, perhaps even first round potential.
8 RB Devonta Freeman (5’9″ 206 pounds, JUNIOR)
Devonta Freeman carried the ball more times than any other back at Florida State in 2012, averaging just a hair under six yards per carry. He finished his sophomore season with 660 yards rushing and eight touchdowns, and showed off a lot of skills that have NFL teams intrigued. Personally, I actually really like backs at this size. Freeman has good quickness and power for his size, and even though he is shorter at 5’9″, it actually works to his advantage. He is a slippery back in the size mold of a Ray Rice, though he’s not quite that productive or talented as a receiver.
Freeman has big potential if he continues to improve his third down abilities. He is quick to the hole with great burst and the ability to finish runs. He looks like he runs with a chip on his shoulder. Can be a between the tackles runner as well as a shifty back on the outside. I think perhaps Freeman’s best trait is he just has a natural feel for the position. He looks like an experienced runner already with only two years of collegiate ball, and I think when he gets to the NFL, he’s going to have a strong chance of being a workhorse tailback.
80 WR Rashad Greene (6’0″ 180 pounds, JUNIOR)
Another stellar underclassman for the Seminoles, Greene has a ton of NFL potential. He has a very lean frame and needs to add muscle, but he has excellent speed and vision with the ball in his hands. He is such a good playmaker, in fact, that he scored touchdowns in three different ways in 2012, catching eight, returning two punts for scores, and he even had a rushing touchdown. Greene does a good job of tracking the ball downfield as a “Y” receiver on the outside when FSU chooses to use him as a vertical threat, but he can also stretch the seam from the slot, and make plays after the catch. He’s certainly not a bulldozer of a runner, and prefers to run around defenders, but he’s pretty good at it. His change of direction is as good as any player I’ve scouted.
On a team that didn’t throw the ball a heck of a lot a year ago, Greene was the leading receiver by a mile, catching 57 passes for 741 yards and six touchdowns. He has great burst and explosiveness, and my guess is, if he decided to declare after his junior season with a new QB, he might not go until the end of day two, perhaps even on day three because he’s not going to put up flashy numbers. But make no mistake about it–this guy will make an impact at the next level, be it as a slot WR, outside WR, or punt returner.
81 WR Kenny Shaw (6’0″ 170 pounds, SENIOR)
Kenny Shaw is another receiver who NFL teams will have their eye on as he enters his senior season with the team. He may only have late-round potential because of his numbers and the fact that they’re not eye-popping, but he definitely has some shiftiness and NFL caliber quicks. He has a very thin frame and will need to add muscle, but there’s no mistaking he is a downfield threat. He finished second on the team in 2012 with 532 receiving yards, and has some big play ability.
8 DT Timmy Jernigan (6’2″ 298 pounds, JUNIOR)
It’s hard to believe Timmy Jernigan is already eligible for the NFL Draft at the end of this season. His FSU career has been productive thus far, but he’s not yet a household name. It’s time draft fans learned more about this kid. He has the ideal size and girth for a penetrating 4-3 defensive tackle, and his production last season as a sophomore has NFL scouts giddy about what he can do with an increased workload. Florida State’s defense lost its star power this year with Bjoern Werner, Brandon Jenkins, and Tank Carradine all heading off to the NFL, so Jernigan is the lead man up front in terms of returning tackles for loss. He is a quick and powerful defensive tackle prospect that should emerge as one of the best in the country by season’s end.
7 LB Christian Jones (6’4″ 232 pounds, SENIOR)
Jones is one of the top 4-3 OLB prospects in the country. He isn’t a pass rusher by any means, but he is a freakish size/speed/athlete type at the LB position who has a nose for the football and great length. He had a true breakout junior season, leading the Seminoles with 95 tackles, seven tackles for loss, three passes broken up, and two recovered fumbles. Where he may be most valuable in the NFL is covering slot WRs, RBs and TEs. He has great hip fluidity and is a natural pass coverage LB, something you don’t often see from guys his size. He has a tendency to play too tall at times, which is to be expected for a guy of his size, but his height and length serve him well in coverage. Looks like he has a great motor and finishes plays. Does a solid job of reading plays and closing on the ball, and has really good looking speed for a linebacker.
This is a really solid wrap up tackler who takes good angles and I think he has a strong future as a starting OLB in the NFL, perhaps inside in a 3-4 defense. Because of his height, he doesn’t always get great leverage in tackling and block shedding, but overall, this is a standout prospect who will be a difference maker as a pro.
75 OT Cameron Erving (6’5″ 310 pounds, JUNIOR)
Erving is a converted defensive tackle who plays with power and looked like he could develop into a top flight left tackle prospect in his first year starting at the position in 2012. Blocking for EJ Manuel’s blind side, Erving has the ideal size and foot speed to be a big name left tackle. He uses his hands pretty well but it’s easy to see he’s still raw at the position. Still, his talent is evident, and he has a punishing mentality on the field. There are some scouts who believe Erving enters his junior season as a first round tackle.
20 Lamarcus Joyner (5’8″ 195 pounds, SENIOR)
The senior defensive back may be small in stature, but he plays big and hits like a ton of bricks. Joyner may be an ideal nickel cornerback at the next level, and because of that fact he may go vastly under-drafted. His size is obviously an issue if he’s playing with outside corners, but the NFL has become so pass heavy that nickel cornerbacks are just as valuable, yet teams still overlook them in the draft. Joyner is a guy who you will be able to get later in the draft, but he is going to make a huge impact if he develops as expected. He is also a valuable special teams player that can return kicks, so NFL teams are going to be eager to cash in on the value that this guy will bring on draft weekend.
22 LB Telvin Smith (6’3″ 215 pounds, SENIOR)
Big framed LB prospect with amazing speed for the position. Flies around the field and has room to grow into his 6’3″ frame. If this guy can bulk up to the 230 pound range and keep his speed, I think he has a chance to be a big time playmaker at the next level. He hits like a ton of bricks and was third on the team in 2012 with 64 tackles. He also finished with 9.5 tackles for loss, a sack, and three passes broken up. He is an attacker, and it’s hard not to love his explosive ability and potential to be used in blitz packages at other positions. I think the downside to Smith’s game is he needs to add weight and avoid playing too high. Taller linebackers have a huge advantage in coverage, but they have a disadvantage when engaged with offensive linemen. If he can consistently improve his leverage, he has the potential to be a dominant NFL linebacker with some added bulk.