TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State had 11 players drafted in 2013, the most of any program in the nation.
And it appears that the Seminoles could come close to that number yet again.
Florida State has had 18 first-round picks since 2000, and that number could rise Thursday night when the first round of the draft is held in New York. Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan are both listed on a number of analysts’ first-round mock draft boards, although Jernigan’s recent positive drug test, which was reported by FOXSports.com on Monday, could cause his stock to slide.
Benjamin is a big target at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds. He’s trying to slim down to 225 pounds in an effort to be just a little faster, but he’s already a big target that has learned how to go up for the ball. Benjamin has visited with nearly every NFL team between the combine and personal workouts, and he’s part of what’s considered a deep wide receiver class.
Jernigan isn’t known as an elite pass rusher up the middle. But he’s powerful and has shown that he can consistently stop the run.
Here’s a look at how Florida State’s draft picks have fared the past five years:
EJ Manuel, QB (1st round, 16th overall, Bills): Manuel, the only quarterback taken in the first round in 2013, was predictably inconsistent in his first NFL season. And he also battled a knee injury that slowed his development. He went head-to-head with Tom Brady and lost just 23-21. He threw for 296 yards in a win over Carolina and put up 37 points against the New York Jets. But he also had nine interceptions in 10 games, including four in a December loss to the Buccaneers. Manuel needs to learn from the experience and improve in Year 2.
EJ Manuel threw for 1,972 yards and 11 touchdowns in 10 starts for the Bills during his rookie season.
Bjoern Werner, DE (1st round, 24th overall, Colts): Werner is trying to make the transition from 4-3 end to 3-4 linebacker, one that actually started at Florida State in his junior season. It’s still a work in progress. Werner played in 13 games and had 18 tackles and 2.5 sacks. He’s fared well as a run-stopper but needs to improve as a pass rusher.
Xavier Rhodes, CB (1st round, 25th overall, Vikings): A reluctant move from wide receiver to defensive back early in his Florida State career paid off for Rhodes. He played in 13 games (starting six) for Minnesota in 2013, making 48 tackles and knocking down 10 passes. Rhodes could develop into an elite NFL corner.
Cornellius Carradine, DE (2nd round, 40th overall, 49ers): Knee injuries kept Carradine from playing as a rookie. But after the second surgery, Carradine said he was feeling good. When healthy, he’s an elite pass rusher — so expect Carradine to make an impact in 2014.
Menelik Watson, OT (2nd round, 42nd overall, Raiders): After a season of junior-college football and another at Florida State, Watson was off to the NFL. Watson battled calf and knee injuries and only played in five games as a rookie. But the Raiders still have high hopes that Watson will hold down the right tackle spot.
Chris Thompson, RB (5th round, 154th overall, Redskins): After suffering season-ending back and knee injuries at Florida State, Thompson played in four games but didn’t have a carry. Enter coach Jay Gruden. Perhaps a new coach could mean more playing time for Thompson.
Brandon Jenkins, DE (5th round, 162nd overall, Redskins): Jenkins had a tackle in the season opener but had a quiet season otherwise. He played in five games. But Jenkins could also see more playing time under defensive coordinator Jim Haslett.
Dustin Hopkins, PK (6th round, 177th overall, Bills): Hopkins made six field-goal attempts in the preseason but a groin injury kept him from kicking in the regular season.
Nick Moody, LB (6th round, 180th overall, 49ers): Moody saw only a little playing time as a rookie as he battled injuries, but he played for the first time in Week 12. He became a special teams contributor, making four tackles.
Vince Williams, LB (6th round, 206th overall, Steelers): Williams gradually learned the Pittsburgh defense and saw extensive playing time, starting in 11 of 15 games. He sat out the season opener but had seven tackles in Week 2 against the Bengals. Williams had 53 tackles last season.
Vince Williams, a sixth-round pick, registered 53 tackles in 15 games for the Steelers last season.
Everett Dawkins, DT (7th round, 229th overall, Vikings): Dawkins saw just a little playing time in his rookie season as he bounced from Minnesota to Dallas and then Tampa Bay. He saw action in just two games and is on the Bucs’ roster going into 2014.
Nigel Bradham, OLB (4th round, 105th overall, Bills): Bradham has started 14 of 32 games with Buffalo and has 108 tackles. He’s also found success on special teams.
Zebrie Sanders, OL (5th round, 144th overall, Bills): Sanders spent his rookie season on injured reserve with a hip injury and was released by the team in August 2013.
Mike Harris, CB (6th round, 176th overall, Jaguars): Harris has been a solid contributor for the Jaguars, starting eight games in two years. He recorded 55 tackles as a rookie and then 37 last season. He’s been used mostly as a nickel corner and on special teams.
Andrew Datko, OL (7th round, 241st overall, Packers): Green Bay took a chance that Datko’s shoulder injury from college would heal. It never did and Datko is out of the NFL.
Christian Ponder, QB (1st round, 12th overall, Vikings): Ponder’s completion percentage has risen from 54.3 his rookie season to 63.6 in 2013. But he has struggled to complete passes downfield and has been sacked 89 times in three seasons. Ponder will likely back up Matt Cassel in 2014, and the Vikings are taking a long look at quarterbacks in the draft, too. Ponder’s 2015 option was declined by the team last week, and it’s likely that this will be his final season in Minnesota.
Rodney Hudson, OL (2nd round, 55th overall, Chiefs): After spending his first two seasons mostly as a reserve, Hudson started 15 of 16 games in 2013 at center after moving over from guard during his time at Florida State.
Markus White, DE (7th round, 224th overall, Redskins): White was cut by Tampa Bay in August 2013. He had spent time with the Buccaneers and Redskins but has mostly been relegated to the practice squad.
Patrick Robinson, CB (1st round, 32nd overall, Saints): Robinson developed into a starter in 2012, recording 64 tackles and three interceptions. He has 141 tackles and seven career INTs in 44 games over four seasons. But Robinson began 2013 as a backup and played in just two games before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
Patrick Robinson started all 16 games for the Saints in 2012, recording 64 tackles and three interceptions, but suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 2 of 2013.
Myron Rolle, DB (6th round, 207th overall, Titans): Once considered the nation’s top prep prospect in the class of 2006, Rolle played for both the Titans and Steelers in the preseason but never suited up in the regular season. He is now in medical school.
Dekoda Watson, LB (7th round, 217th overall, Buccaneers): It’s tough for seventh-rounders to even make the roster, but Watson has made an impression as a reserve and will begin his fifth NFL season this fall. He had 106 tackles and forced two fumbles in four seasons with the Buccaneers. In March, the free agent signed a deal with the Jaguars.
Everette Brown, DE (2nd round, 43rd overall, Panthers): Brown left Florida State after his junior season but hasn’t found success in the NFL. Brown had just 59 tackles and six sacks in two seasons with Carolina before he was waived. He played briefly with the Chargers in 2011 and the Cowboys in 2013.