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Watson, Carradine Among Seminoles Hoping to Be Taken Tonight

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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.

 

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