Despite a rough 2017 season that ended with a win in the Independence Bowl, the amount of talent on the Florida State roster was undeniable. The amount of NFL prospects on the team is plentiful, and while it may not have been the best season for the Seminoles, they still should be well represented come draft day tomorrow. Here is a complete breakdown of every Florida State NFL prospect to get Seminole fans ready for the start of the NFL draft on Thursday.
Derwin James, Junior
Projected Round: 1st (Top 20)
Pro Comparison: Kam Chancellor, Seattle Seahawks
Florida State fans only got to see a healthy Derwin James for two seasons, and while his junior year didn’t go exactly as planned, the former five-star recruit still got an All-ACC nod in his final season. Totaling 186 tackles, 15 tackles-for-loss, and 5.5 sacks in just two seasons, James is a freak athlete. He can squat just as much as 300-pound linemen and repped the 225 bench press 21 times at the NFL combine. He excelled in the nickel spot for the ‘Noles, playing well against the run, decently in pass coverage, and was great on zone blitzes. The athleticism of James, combined with his ability to line up all over the field, means that he is a surefire first-round pick, and could even go top-15.
Josh Sweat, Junior
Position: Outside Linebacker/Defensive End
Projected Round: 3rd or 4th
Pro Comparison: Chandler Jones, Arizona Cardinals
After severely injuring his knee in high school, Josh Sweat’s potential was never fully realized at Florida State, but he still had a very productive career, finishing with 14.5 sacks and 138 total tackles over three seasons. Sweat was not always consistent this past season, but overall was one of the few bright spots on the FSU defense. Many analysts have rated him as a mid-rounder due to concerns about his knee, which he severely injured in high school and then again his sophomore season, but Sweat has a very high ceiling when healthy. He could become a decent pass rusher in the NFL and could turn into a starting outside linebacker within the next few seasons.
Tarvarus McFadden, Junior
Pro Comparison: Byron Maxwell, Seattle Seahawks
Projected Round: 3rd/4th
McFadden had a ton of hype heading into his junior season after a remarkable sophomore campaign where he caught eight interceptions, which lead the country. But like the rest of the Seminole roster, McFadden was unable to deliver on the hype, not recording any picks and seemingly playing uninspired, losing playing time to younger guys. Before the season started, he was projected as a possible top-10 pick but has now fallen down to the 5th round on some draft boards. Less-than-stellar coverage skills and lack of quickness have been the main knock on McFadden, but he has ideal size for a modern-day cornerback. A former All-American and two-time All-ACC player, if he can develop his coverage skills, McFadden could develop into a solid contributor on a team within the next few seasons.
Auden Tate, Junior
Position: Wide Receiver
Projected Round: 2nd-3rd
Pro Comparison: Devin Funchess, Carolina Panthers
One more season at Florida State might have made Tate a surefire first-rounder, but no one came blame him for leaving with his injury history. Tate caught 16 touchdowns over his three-year career at Florida State, ten of which came this past season. At 6’4 220, he’s is a red zone threat, and with his tremendous potential at only 21 years of age, many scouts have said he could become a number one receiver for a franchise if he develops well. Our own Armchair draft expert, Rob Paul, said of Tate: “I think with the right fit, Tate can be a great red zone threat and consistent #2 receiver”.
Derrick Nnadi, Senior
Position: Defensive Tackle
Projected Round: 3rd-4th
Pro Comparison: Chris Baker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Seminole fans rejoiced when Derrick Nnadi decided to come back for his senior season, and the big man did not disappoint. He was fantastic against both Clemson and Alabama and finished the year with a career-high 52 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Nnadi is a bit shorter to play nose tackle in the NFL, but at 6’0, 313, he will be perfect at the one or two-technique and has scouts drooling over his motor and quickness off the ball. The main knock against Nnadi has been his lack of size, causing him to fall down draft boards a bit, but he still should be an effective interior lineman in the league for whatever team drafts him.
Ryan Izzo, (R)Junior
Position: Tight End
Projected Round: 5th-6th
Pro Comparison: Jermaine Gresham, Arizona Cardinals
Izzo surprised many when he decided to declare for the NFL Draft, but after a disappointing junior campaign and coaching change, it most likely was the right move. Izzo caught 20 balls and three touchdowns this season, and while his pass catching production slowed, it was due to an inexperienced QB. Izzo still is a ferocious run blocker and was one of the major reasons for Dalvin Cook and Cam Akers’ success over the past two years. Much like former Florida State tight end Nick O’Leary, he will mostly be a blocking tight end in the NFL, and with his prototypical size, could be a late-round steal in the draft.
ILB Matthew Thomas, (R) Senior
Position: Inside Linebacker
Projected Round: 5th-7th
Pro Comparison: Kwon Alexander, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Coming in as a heralded five-star recruit, Thomas has an up and down career during his time in Tallahassee, battling injuries and academic issues throughout. However, his last two seasons have seen Thomas twice lead the team in tackles, totaling over 75 each year, and became one of the top tacklers in the ACC. He has good size and speed but needs to improve his pass coverage and after impressing in his pre-draft workouts, Thomas could be a late-round pick. At the combine, he has a 41.5 inch vertical and ran a 4.58 40, very good numbers for a linebacker. Still, his lack of awareness on the field has hurt his stock, leaving many scouts to grade him as a player who would mainly contribute on special teams.
SS Trey Marshall, Senior
Position: Strong Safety
Projected Round: 7th or Undrafted
Pro Comparison: Antoine Bethea, San Francisco 49ers
Another big-time recruit who dealt with injuries throughout his time at Florida State, Marshall was a key member of the FSU secondary over the last three seasons. He finishes his career with 135 tackles with six of them going for a loss. Marshall is great in stopping the run, and above-average in pass coverage, projecting to be a late-round pick. He has a lot of upside based on his athleticism alone could become a solid backup safety at the next level, or a quality special teams player.
Ro’Derrick Hoskins, (R) Senior
Projected Round: 7th
Pro Comparison: Nigel Bradham, Philadelphia Eagles
The final man in the “untapped potential” linebacker trio, Hoskins will leave Florida State with 159 tackles, 13.5 TFLs, and 2.5 sacks. Coming in as a four-star recruit in 2013, Hoskins redshirted during the 2013 National Championship run, and has seen decent playing time at middle linebacker since 2015, taking over as a starter midway through that seasons. He’s solid in pass coverage and good filling holes to stop the run, but several times this season he filled the wrong gap at the line of scrimmage and let up huge runs. Hoskins is another athletically gifted linebacker who, even if he doesn’t get drafted, should wind at the least on a practice squad come next season.
Jacob Pugh, Senior
Position: Outside Linebacker
Projected Round: 7th or Undrafted
Pro Comparison: KJ Wright, Seattle Seahawks
Another linebacker who had an inconsistent career with the Seminoles, Pugh leaves his native city of Tallahassee with career totals of 108 tackles and 12 sacks. Pugh was never a fantastic 3-4 outside linebacker, but when he dealt with little-to-no injuries in 2016, the former four-star recruit recorded six sacks and improved in pass coverage. 2017 was not the best year for the senior, but he was still an impact player on defense during his time in Tallahassee, and his athletic ability should land him a roster spot in the NFL.
Emon Lane, Senior
Position: Defensive Back
Projected Round: Undrafted
Pro Comparison: Clayton Geathers, Indianapolis Colts
Ermon Lane was a highly touted wide receiver coming out of high school, but after seeing his playing time dwindle after his freshman year, Lane was plugged into safety halfway through the 2016 season. Despite not playing defense since high school, he was productive at free safety, notching 26 tackles and an interception as a junior. Midway through this past season he was switched back to receiver due to lack of depth at the position, and didn’t see any playing time at safety the rest of the year. At 6’2, Lane is a big safety who moves well and is good coming up and helping stop the run, but due to lack of experience, it’s likely he goes undrafted. Still, with great length and speed, do not be surprised if Lane nabs a roster spot by the end of next season.
One big point about Ermon Lane is that even though after going down in the depth chart, he never transferred despite countless opportunities to do so. Lane, if anyone, should be the guy Seminole fans should root for, always doing what was best for the team, and never wavering in his commitment to Florida State football. That kind of commitment to a program is something NFL franchises should definitely consider when looking at a player, and I honestly think Lane will be on an NFL roster for a long time.
Jalen Wilkerson, (R) Sophomore
Position: Defensive End
Projected Round: Undrafted
Pro Comparison: Taco Charlton, Dallas Cowboys
This was by far the most surprising player to declare for the draft for FSU, seeing as how Wilkerson is only a sophomore with only one full season as a defensive end. He came to Florida State as a tight end but switched to defense after not cracking the depth chart offense. Although he played in all 13 games as primarily a backup, Wilkerson still managed 19 total tackles, 6.0 of them for loss, and half a sack. Don’t expect Wilkerson to get drafted due to limited experience at the position, but he did play very well in limited playing time on the defense. At 6’5, 280 pounds, he could fit very well as a 4-3 defensive end similar to Dante Fowler or Taco Charlton, especially with more development at DE.
Rick Leonard, Senior
Position: Offensive Tackle
Projected Round: Undrafted
Pro Comparison: Michael Schofield, LA Chargers
After starting his career as a highly recruited defensive end, Leonard spent his first two seasons playing on the defensive side of the ball, racking up 6 tackles and 2 TFLs. But after limited production in 2016, the coaches moved Leonard to offensive tackle, where he began to improve. He started every game this past season at right tackle, and although at times he did look shaky, Leonard improved every single game. His athleticism and size at 6’7 give him a good chance to make a roster, or at least a practice squad, his first year in the league.
Ryan Green, (R) Senior
Position: Running Back
Projected Round: Undrafted
Pro Comparison: Mike James, Detroit Lions
Ryan Green seemingly kept having bad luck time after time with the ‘Noles. He received a decent amount of carries his freshman season in 2013 during the championship run but was injured at the beginning of 2014 while competing for the starting spot. Green then proceeded to have just eleven carries over his last two seasons and was moved to DB in 2015. This past year, Green found playing time down the stretch of the season, running for 126 yards and 3 touchdowns on just 12 carries. While he most likely won’t be drafted, Green is a fast, elusive back, and could become a return specialist in the league, or a scat back. While he will most likely go undrafted, Green is an immensely talented back who might be one of the most underrated running backs in the draft.
Credit to: ESPN.com, sportsreference.com, Bleacher Report, NFL.com, and the Walter Camp Football Foundation