Scouting the ACC: Florida State

After a so-so campaign which included three losses (two coming at the hands of interstate rival Miami) and several close contests, Florida State hopes to right the ship in 2004. While there may only be a single outstanding draft eligible prospect on the roster right now there is a lot of depth on the squad and plenty of solid pro-potential.

It is quite possible had Craphonso Thorpe not broken his leg last season he would be playing in the NFL this year.  Thorpe could be the most underrated receiver in the nation and has an enormous amount of upside for the next level.  Fast, quick and explosive, he consistently beats opponents down the field, stretching the defense vertically.  Yet Thorpe also runs outstanding routes which enables him to get separation from defenders in the short field.  He has a reliable pair of hands and continually comes up with the important reception during the games critical moments.  Thorpe also shows outstanding competitiveness and is willing to make the tough catch in a crowd or help out the running game with effective downfield blocking.  Tall and slim, he may have difficulty beating the jam at the next level and must physically become stronger without losing a step of speed.  With a good senior campaign Thorpe could be a fast riser up draft charts next April and enter the top 20. Passing the ball to Thorpe will be the much debated Chris Rix.  Possessing excellent pocket stature, Rix has an NFL-arm and stretches defenses vertically with his ability to throw the long pass.  A tough quarterback, he will stand in the pocket and take punishment in order to get the throw off.  He has a tight delivery and quick release which enables him to immediately get the ball to the intended target.  Yet there are several flaws to his game; Rix does a poor job reading defenses and locating the open wide out as well as timing his throws.  He does have a little off-the-field baggage but to his credit Rix has shown a solid development in all areas the past twelve months.  A good senior campaign could move him into the top 75-picks of next April's draft.  Left tackle Alex Barron is an athletic blocker who plays with solid fundamentals and strength.  A top pass protector, Barron is an outstanding position blocker who walls defenders from the action with his large frame and seals blocks.  He offers a lot of upside in almost every area and could sneak into the late first round with a good senior campaign.  Strong side blocker Ray Willis is big, dominant and destroys opponents once engaged at the point of attack.  Willis is also a good position blocker but a limited athlete that lumbers around the field.  His size and growth potential make him a prime candidate for the right tackle spot in the NFL.  In many ways Leon Washington has the style and stature that reminds us of Warrick Dunn. A quick footed, elusive runner, Washington has outstanding cutting skills and makes defenders miss at the line of scrimmage or in the open field.  He displays good running vision and instincts as well as a burst through the hole.  Only junior, he could be one of the better third down prospects in all of college football.

While the Seminoles are talented on the defensive front four this year's roster does not hold the numerous top prospects we have become accustomed to from the program.  Defensive tackle Travis Johnson is a big inside plugger that plays with explosion and does a solid job stuffing the run.  Johnson showed a lot of skill during his sophomore year but off the field problems, which he was eventually exonerated from, seemed to weigh heavily on him last season and resulted in a mediocre campaign.  He still offers good upside for the next level if he gets his career back on track.  Defensive end Eric Moore is an explosive yet undersized pass rusher who displays a great burst of closing speed and the ability to disrupt plays in the opponents backfield.  Small, he may be better off at outside linebacker in the NFL.  Chauncey Davis  flashes skill and is another speedy defensive end that stands out in pursuit.  Moving into a starting role this season, Davis stands to improve his draft ranking.  Corner Bryant McFadden has solid size and flashes shutdown skills on occasion.  He's been relatively consistent and is a solid first day selection next April.  B.J. Ward is a hard-hitting centerfielder that has steadily progressed and stands to gain from a solid senior season in '04.

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