First-round 'Noles should fit in nicely

Four former Seminoles are set to fill voids in their new NFL homes.

For the Florida State football team, the 2006 NFL Draft will forever be remembered for its initial three and a half hours.

Starting with the Detroit Lions at pick No. 9 and ending with the San Diego Chargers at selection 20 of the first round, the FSU defense saw four of its defensive playmakers learn of their respective professional destinations.

As the dust settled on the end of the first round, all four players just may be exactly where they are needed most.

And while it doesn't come as much of a surprise that the Tribe had that number of defensemen selected in the draft's first 32 picks (tied for the most all-time with the 2004 Miami Hurricanes), the frequency of the Seminoles selected could be considered a shock to some.

After not taking a defensive player in the first round of the draft since 1999, the Lions finally shook things up – taking early enrollee linebacker Ernie Sims. The Seminoles' former No. 34 will join a Detroit team that suffered through a 2005 season marred by injury and inconsistent play in its linebacker corps.

Sims' knack for the big play and 4.5-speed in addition to his small size but intense style has drawn comparisons to former FSU standout and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers All-Pro Derrick Brooks. Brooks' position coach in Tampa, now the new head coach of the Lions, Rod Marinelli, likes what he sees in the 'Noles' latest linebacker addition to the NFL.

"All you have to do is turn the tape on and watch him play football," Marinelli said on DetroitLions.com. "He's all over the field. And he plays that way every game. The guy has talent, which is key, but he plays like he has no talent, because of all the energy he brings - that's what I really admire."

Added Lions President & CEO Matt Millen on DetroitLions.com: "We need to add speed, and he has a lot of speed and play-making ability. The other part of it is, he'll hit you now. This kid can hit.

"He's just got to come in and learn this scheme and he'll do well for us this year."

Following Sims - who had been predicted by many experts to be the second Seminole drafted Saturday – the Cleveland Browns nabbed defensive end Kamerion Wimbley with the day's 13th pick. The Browns, originally pegged to select at No. 12, exchanged picks with the Baltimore Ravens for an extra selection in round six.

Still, Browns head coach Romeo Crennel, who was in attendance at FSU's Pro Day in March, managed to get the one player whom he not-so-secretly coveted in Wimbley. The Kansas native projects as a pass rushing outside linebacker in Cleveland's new 3-4 defensive scheme.



While Wimbley was taken by the squad that he was predicted to wind up with all along, defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley made the day's largest slide for former FSU players in terms of projected positioning – albeit not very far.

A virtual lock for the Buffalo Bills in need of a dominant big man at pick No. 8 and thought-to-be first Seminole off the board, Bunkley was victim to a surprise pick by the Bills who grabbed safety Donte Whitner. Following Buffalo, the Ravens made Haloti Ngata the draft's first defensive tackle selected at No. 12 after swapping spots with Cleveland.

In the end, however, Bunkley finds himself continuing the FSU-Philadelphia first round connection – becoming the third Seminole taken in the top 15 by the organization (Tra Thomas and Corey Simon were the others).

Fittingly, FSU closed out its first round fortunes with the pick that came as arguably the day's biggest surprise.

After missing the entire 2005 campaign rehabbing an injured knee and boasting only one career start with the Garnet and Gold, Cromartie still heard his name called in the draft's first 20 picks. The Tallahassee native, who benefited immensely from impressive pro workouts this offseason, has an upside that many scouts translated to a late first-round selection.

But his selection at No. 19 to a Chargers team in need of secondary help still comes with its share of skepticism because of its position in mid-round. While scouts like his tremendous upside, his lack of experience and time away from live action raises concerns.

Now a soon-to-be defensive specialist in an NFC West Division that boasts traditionally strong offenses in the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos and an Oakland Raiders team possessing one of the games' premier playmakers in Randy Moss, Cromartie's transition to the pro ranks won't be an easy one.

But he's ready.

"That's going to be great facing up against Randy Moss," Cromartie told ESPN's Suzie Kolber. "I'm just trying to come in and work hard every day and when that time comes to face (him), then we will see what happens on Sunday."


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