Jacksonville Sports Day

NFL DRAFT: FSU on the Verge of Record-Breaking Three-Year Run

TALLAHASSEE –Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher joked earlier this spring that the Seminoles have probably sent an entire starting roster to the National Football League over the last few seasons.

By the time the 2015 draft concludes early next month, Fisher may turn out to be more right than he knew.

Since Fisher took over as FSU’s head coach in 2010, the Seminoles have had 25 players drafted into the NFL.

And that number is due to climb in a few weeks, when as many as 12 more former Seminoles potentially hear their name called to join the professional ranks.

“As talented a group as you’ll see anywhere in the country,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said after FSU’s Pro Day in March.

Fisher has developed a strong reputation as one of the top quarterback coaches in the nation, and with good reason. He’s got three first-round quarterbacks on his ledger, and each of his starters at FSU (Christian Ponder, 2011; EJ Manuel, 2013) have been selected in the first round.

Heisman-winner Jameis Winston is expected to join that club later this month, and could be Fisher’s second No. 1 overall pick (Jamarcus Russell, 2007) and the first for FSU. Andre Wadsworth holds the FSU record for highest draft pick, going No. 3 to the Arizona Cardinals in 1998.

“If I was betting in Vegas, that’s what I’d bet on,” Fisher said. “But you can’t guarantee. … It’s going to be very high, I know that.”

But FSU’s pipeline to the NFL is built on far more than just quarterbacks.

Since the 2011 draft, FSU has had at least one player drafted at every position except tight end.

That group features two quarterbacks, two running backs (Devonta Freeman, Chris Thompson), one wide receiver (Kelvin Benjamin) and five offensive linemen (Bryan Stork, Menelik Watson, Zebrie Sanders, Andrew Datko, Rodney Hudson).

On defense, the Seminoles have sent two defensive tackles (Timmy Jernigan, Everett Dawkins), four defensive ends (Bjoern Werner, Tank Carradine, Brandon Jenkins, Markus White), four linebackers (Telvin Smith, Nick Moody, Vince Williams, Nigel Bradham), three cornerbacks (Xavier Rhodes, Lamarcus Joyner, Mike Harris) and a safety (Terrence Brooks).

Even kicker Dustin Hopkins checked off the specialists box in the 2013 draft.
FSU in 2015 isn’t just looking to add to its draft total – it’s looking to make history.

If 11 former Seminoles are drafted, it will give FSU 29 draftees over the last three seasons, breaking the modern-day record of 28 held by Miami (2002-04) and Southern California (2008-10).

“One, we’ve gotten guys who are talented,” Fisher said, “but two, we run a pro system. And they’ve walked up and they’ve done all the things you’re doing in pro football.

“We run a pro system so the guys adapt to that system extremely quickly.”

Winston is expected to by most the be the No. 1 pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he could be joined in the first round by defensive lineman Eddie Goldman and offensive lineman Cameron Erving.

Receiver Rashad Greene, cornerbacks P.J. Williams and Ronald Darby, defensive end Mario Edwards Jr., tight end Nick O’Leary, running back Karlos Williams and offensive linemen Josue Matias, Tre’ Jackson and Bobby Hart expect to be drafted as well.

O’Leary, the 2015 John Mackey Award winner, would be the first FSU tight end drafted since Lonnie Johnson in 1994.

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