« April 25, 2013 | Main | May 1, 2013 »

4 posts from April 26, 2013

April 26, 2013

Watson, Carradine Among Seminoles Hoping to Be Taken Tonight


Last night as the first round of the 2013 NFL draft kicked off three Seminoles heard their names called and realized their NFL dreams. EJ Manuel went first to the Buffalo Bills at 16. Just a short while later Bjoern Werner and Xavier Rhodes went back to back when they were picked 24th and 25th by the Colts and Vikings, respectively.

But as the first round wound to a close, a couple of Seminoles that were hoping to be day one selections were left waiting another night to finally be drafted.

Both Menelik Watson and Tank Carradine had an outside shot to climb up into the back of the first round heading into the start of Thursday night. Early on it seemed more than likely that Watson wouldn't have to wait long.

A run on tackles- including three in the first four picks of the first round- had many believing that Watson would easily find a home by the end of the night. The Manchester-born offensive tackle is still somewhat raw, having only played a season of JuCo ball and one year at Florida State. But his athleticism, size, work ethic and intelligence have many teams extremely interested in him as a project player. 

After attending Marist on a basketball scholarship, Watson made the switch to football where he had a mercurial rise as both a juco prospect and then a pro prospect. What really separates Watson is his punch off the snap. As a former boxer, he is absolutely vicious and oftentimes can knock the wind out of an end or a linebacker before they can even get the jump on him.

Tank Carradine- who faced Watson in practice on a daily basis last season at FSU- characterized Watson's playing style as brutal and said he physically manhandles you if can't avoid his punch.

Carradine is the other Nole left waiting to be selected after Thursday night. Had the 6-5 270-pound end not blown out his knee against UF last November he would have likely been one of the first defensive linemen taken this year. 

Instead he's still waiting.

Carradine is a coach's dream. He went the junior college route too, something he credits with helping him calm down and focus on what was important to him- football. So he arrived at Florida State and over the next two seasons was as opportunistic as anyone, using every snap he could get to harrass quarterbacks and ballcarriers in the backfield. He racked up 16.5 sacks in two seasons, but never started a game until early in his senior year. 

As a senior Carradine was every bit as talented as Bjoern Werner, matching him sack-for-sack while leading Florida State in tackles until his injury. Seminole teammates credit Werner for being a technician, Carradine on the other hand was simply known as a beast. He is strong (tossing up 32 reps on the bench at his pro day) and he plays with rage. A lot of it.

Carradine's pass rushing repertoire will need development, he could benefit to add a move or two and become more well-rounded as a true pass-rusher. But the strength and brutality he plays with should help him early on as he develops that skill set. Carradine is very strong against the run and he is an above-average pass rusher with the potential to grow in that capacity.

He is also one of the hungriest guys in this draft.

He was hungry before the season when he was fighting to prove FSU had more talent on the D-Line than just Brandon Jenkins and Bjoern Werner. And if the success of being named All-ACC first team at the end of the season allowed any complaceny to creep in, it was stamped out when he was injured and saw his stock plummet.

Carradine has had to climb up NFL draft boards twice. Once during the season and once after his injury. On Friday night the whole process should finally come to an end for him as he is picked early in round two.

There are several other Seminoles hoping to get that phone call and hear their names announced tonight as well, but guys like Lonnie Pryor, Vince Williams and Everett Dawkins are more likely to end up going in rounds 4-7 on Saturday afternoon than in rounds two or three today.

Saturday should be a very busy day for the Seminoles with potentially as many as ten players hoping to gets picked on the final day of the draft.

I'll have more updates throughout the day and on into the evening. Keep checking back.


For all the latest Florida State news and updates follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter...

First Round Recap: Three Seminoles Go in Round One


As the NFL draft is wont to do, the first quarterback to hear his name called on Thursday night surprised people. Dropped more than a few jaws.

As EJ Manuel- and not Geno Smith or Matt Barkley- walked across the stage at Radio City Music Halland grabbed a Buffalo Bills jersey as the first QB picked in the 2013 NFL draft, everyone was a bit shocked.

Well, almost everyone.

“It wasn’t a very big surprise [to me],” said Manuel moments later. “I knew there was an opportunity for me to go early in the draft, I knew teams that needed a quarterback were very interested, it was just a matter of what happened that day.”

A lot of things happened.

After a run on offensive linemen, Buffalo was able to trade down with St. Louis- who came up to select WR Tavon Austin in front of the Jets at 8.

The move sent Buffalo back to 16th, where they felt comfortable selecting the 6-5 237-pound QB given what else was available and the team's needs.

Manuel was the first Seminole taken in the first round since 2011, The last ‘Nole to earn that distinction was the man Manuel replaced at FSU, QB Christian Ponder who went 12th overall to Minnesota that year.

As the Seminoles’ starter, Manuel finished his career with a 25-6 mark including a 2-0 record against the University of Miami. He is the most accurate passer in Florida State history, second all-time in the ACC. He threw for 7,736 yards, 47 touchdowns and 28 interceptions in his time at FSU.

A little less than an hour later the second Seminole taken in the first round was defensive end Bjoern Werner who went 24th to Indianapolis. The 6-4 255-pound DE became the highest drafted German player in NFL history when he heard his name called.

The junior notched 23.5 sacks in three years at FSU including an ACC leading 13 in 2012. The Colts will look to him to replace Dwight Freeney- who was let go this past offseason.

Xavier Rhodes was selected by the Vikings with the very next pick, 25th overall. Rhodes drew comparisons to Dwayne Bowe as a receiver coming out of Miami Norland but was moved to corner shortly after arriving in Tallahassee and quickly grew into one of the top defensive backs in the country.

In three seasons at FSU Rhodes had 8 interceptions and 140 tackles. He was first team All-ACC in 2012.

The three Seminoles taken on Thursday night marked the first time since 2006 that FSU had multiple first round picks. They had four that year. That was also the last time Florida State won the ACC prior to their 2012 campaign.

This was just the fifth time in Florida State history that three or more Seminoles were selected in the first round of the draft.

FSU could have as many as five or six players taken Friday during rounds two and three. I'll be back in the morning with a preview of day two as well as more coverage of the draft throughout the course of the evening. Keep checking back.


For all the latest Florida State news and updates follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter...

Miami Norland Alum Xavier Rhodes Goes 25th to the Minnesota Vikings


After waiting through half the first round for the first Florida State Seminole to be taken in the 2013 NFL Draft, two went back to back as the draft rolled into its final hour on Thursday night.

Just minutes after Bjoern Werner was selected by the Colts- in the process becoming the highest drafted German player in NFL history- Xavier Rhodes went to the Vikings with the 25th pick.

Rhodes- the third and final Seminole taken on Thursday- is a 6-2 220-pound corner out of Miami Norland who the Vikings hope will shore up their secondary in the pass-happy NFC North. Originally a wide receiver, Rhodes drew comparisons to Dwayne Bowe when he was recruited to Florida State and arrived on campus with the belief he would be lining up on offense.

That wasn't the plan though and Rhodes was forced to switch sides and sit for a season to learn. Over the course of his next three years he developed a reputation as a very physical corner that many ACC quarterbacks didn't want to throw against. He tallied 140 tackles, picked off 8 passes and was considered one of the top corners in the country headed into the draft.

The Vikings clearly agreed.

“I’m extremely happy for Xavier,” FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “He made the sacrifice of switching from receiver to corner and will go on to have a tremendous career in the NFL. He was a staple on our defense, really anchoring down that boundary corner spot for such a long time which was a key position for us. He too is another great young man and great representative for Florida State.”

Rhodes benefited from the success of big-bodied corners like Richard Sherman this past season and could potentially grow into a very good corner at the next level. But they key phrase in that sentence is "potentially grow." For such an alpha corner it was troubling that even when Florida State booted Greg Reid at the start of 2012, Rhodes never managed to lock down the field corner job.

Given his size and athleticism, the fact a true freshman and a 5-9 sophomore platooned at the field-corner for most of the Seminoles 2012 campaign is a bit of a question mark. 

But Rhodes also provides plenty of extremely attractive intangibles and played through a number of injuries at Florida State that were not always publicly disclosed but often left you wondering how close to full-strength he was actually at. His toughness will serve him well in the NFL.

At 25, Rhodes is excellent value for a Vikings team that already has Harrison Smith and Chris Cook, but needed to find a replacement for Antoine Smith who signed with Seattle during the offseason.

Rhodes joins Christian Ponder in Minnesota. The two also played together in college.

In fact, Florida State fans without an NFL affiliation now have two interesting candidates in Minnesota and Buffalo. The Vikings have Ponder, Rhodes and Letroy Guion, while Buffalo now has EJ Manuel, Shawn Powell, Nigel Bradham and Zebrie Sanders.

I'll have a Day Two draft preview tomorrow morning as well as coverage for you throughout the day.

Keep checking back.


For all the latest Florida State news and update follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter...

Bjoern Werner Aims to Replace Dwight Freeney in Indianapolis


Dwight Freeney has a shadow that will loom large in Indianapolis. In 11 seasons as an Indianapolis Colt, the Syracuse alum racked up 107.5 sacks and was oftentimes the lone star on defenses that were habitually outshined by Peyton Manning's offense.

Last year Freeney found a new role as the senior statesman- alongside Reggie Wayne- when Manning left for Denver and Andrew Luck arrived.

But as is the case with most NFL teams, age and atrophying ability creeped up and after tallying just 5 sacks in 2012 (the second lowest total in his career) Freeney was not resigned in Indianapolis this past offseason.

On Thursday night with the 24th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft the Indianapolis Colts tabbed Freeney's replacement, Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner. 

Werner, a 6-4 255-pound junior, became the highest draft German in NFL history when he heard his name called at Radio City Music Hall. He walked across the stage, put his arms around the Commissioner (in a much more genteel fashion than he typically does with quarterbacks) and made history in his native Germany and his hometown of Berlin.

Werner is an anomaly, a European-bred football wunderkind. After finding a passion for the game during a childhood that often saw him attending NFL Europe games, he started playing flag football in Germany before heading to a prep school in Connecticut to pursue a college scholarship. After a head-turning senior season the offers started rolling in from across the country and Werner and his new wife chose to become Seminoles because of the school's location- Florida.

Three years and 23.5 sacks later Werner was back in the northeast on Thursday night, but this time in New York hoisting a Colts jersey on stage next to Roger Goodell.

In Werner the Colts hope they have found their next great pass-rusher.

And despite seeing his draft stock take a hit in the months following his 13-sack junior season, Werner hasn't given the Colts much reason to doubt that he will be.

“Bjoern is one of the great players in Florida State history and one of the most instinctive players that’s ever been around,” FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “He’s going to be a great professional player. He’s another great ambassador for this university. He stands for all the right things, and I couldn’t be happier for him and his family.”

Despite still not having extensive experience as a football player (Werner has essentially only ever played five years of competitive football), he has a very high football IQ. Coupled with an intense work ethic, Werner has grown on the field every year he's played. At Florida State he got playing time as a key reserve as a true freshman, got on to the field full time as a sophomore. As a junior he lead the ACC in sacks.

A lot of times, as you get further and further away from actually seeing the players competing live, teams get distracted by the miutia of the draft and tend to overrate a lot of little things that might not have a huge bearing on how a player will actually perform in the NFL.

One needs only pop in the tape of Werner against Florida- a top-notch SEC opponent- to see what kind of player he is against NFL quality competition. He's smart. He's a self-motivated guy who was willing to leave his family and country to pursue an NFL career. He has a good NFL mind and is a high-character individual.

I was frankly surprised to see Werner slip as far as he did. But if his collegiate performance and intangibles are any indication, Indy should like what how he fills Dwight Freeney's shoes. 


For all the latest Florida State news and updates follow Patrik Nohe on Twitter...



Powered by TypePad