John Franklin III: To Date
Franklin arrived at Florida State in 2013 as a three-star dual-threat quarterback from South Plantation HS (Plantation, FL) and redshirted as a freshman while also competing on the Seminole track team, advancing to the finals of the 100m dash at the ACC Outdoor Championships.
Flashed a strong arm and made good decisions in the 2014 spring game but his future at the position is in doubt.
He’s fast. Really, really fast. As in significantly faster than Auburn’s Nick Marshall fast. Reports from pre-BCS practices in 2013 were that Franklin and RB Mario Pender were gashing the first team defense for big plays, with Franklin in particular displaying ridiculous speed with the football, actually running away from FSU’s very fast defense for multiple 60+ yard scores. His 6.82 60m indoor track time was the 17th fastest among NCAA Division 1 football players and probably situates him as one of the four fastest Seminoles (along with Ronald Darby, Jalen Ramsey, and behind Kermit Whitfield) and attests to his outstanding initial acceleration.
He also has a very strong arm, as displayed in the 2013 spring game, particularly on his last drive, as he made several impressive throws while driving the field in a two-minute scenario.
He has the physical tools to be an outstanding dual-threat quarterback, and he is a very intelligent kid who picks things up quickly.
Room for Improvement
I was more bullish on Franklin at quarterback until speaking with a source within the program this summer and getting the chance to ask about his progress in the offense. Franklin is extremely intelligent, but Jimbo Fisher’s offense requires more than just knowing the offense. To be fully successful in Fisher’s offense, perhaps the single most important trait a quarterback can have is excellent point-guard style anticipation. I specifically asked about that aspect of Franklin’s game and was told that he is not much above average in that regard.
After hearing that, it’s fairly clear to me that his future is ultimately going to be on the outside, either at wide receiver (more likely given his ability with the ball in his hands) or cornerback. Fisher has commented in the past that Franklin could project very highly at the next level at either position.
Floor/Ceiling & NFL Potential
Franklin’s floor involves him staying at quarterback and never taking a meaningful snap again. His ceiling at the QB position would probably be reasonably high in a true spread-option offense, but ultimately he’s not an NFL guy at that position without elite anticipation.
At receiver, he would instantly be one of the most talented players on the team, with the size to play outside or in the slot, and there is no doubting his natural hands (quarterbacks usually have very good hands because they’re used to handling the ball every play and often catch shotgun snaps). He could easily become a second-round or perhaps even better prospect on the outside, though he’d still need to gain a little weight long-term. He projects similarly as a cornerback, with his fluidity and size perhaps being even more valuable there, though his primary gifts seem to be with the football in his hands.
At QB: Nick Marshall. He’s really a DB or WR playing quarterback at the end of the day, but he could be a nightmare to defend at the position because of his speed. At receiver, it’s preliminary, but I’d compare him to DeSean Jackson due to his acceleration and body type.
Outlook for 2014
It really depends on whether he sticks at quarterback or not. If not, I could see him getting some time at either receiver or quarterback and perhaps taking a few reps as a kickoff returner.