Draft will be a Seminole affair

The SEC usually dominates the draft, but this year Florida State could have half of its 2014 starters drafted into the NFL.

For years, when fans have asked what is the best way to prepare for the draft, the answer has been pretty much the same: Watch the SEC.

This year, however, the formula was a little different. Sure, the SEC is still the dominant conference and will have a handful of players taken in every round, with eight or so players in the first round.

But, this year, if you want to have an insider’s edge on the draft, it’s pretty easy.

Watch Florida State games.

The Seminoles didn’t win the national championship in January, but there will be a slew of FSU players going in this year’s draft – starting with the first pick and going from there.

It’s clear enough that Jameis Winston can start house shopping in Tampa. He’s going to be the No. 1 pick, but the graphics people may as well keep FSU helmets ready to put on the screen because he will be far from alone.

There likely won’t be a round without a Seminole in it, and few positions that won’t have a Seminole drafted. It’s almost absurd. Consider the other members of the Famous Jameis Backup Band. They’re going early and often.

Running Back – Karlos Williams will get taken sometime on Day 3 as a project with huge upside. He’s the kind of guy who, if he’s around late, could end up as a Viking with a project tag.

Wide Receiver – When the initial flurry of activity at the position dies down after the first round, Rashad Greene, coming off a pair of big seasons with Winston, is likely in the mix before the middle of Day 2.

Tight End – On Day 3, the work ethic of Nick O’Leary is going to get him drafted. An average athlete, he is a classic overachiever who shows up on tape because of the effort he gives on every play. He may never be a big-time NFL player, but a lot of teams will have him as a priority player as the draft starts to wind down on Day 3.

Guard – Two Seminoles are in the elite fraternity among guards – Tre’ Jackson and Josue Matias. Neither is guaranteed to go on Day 1. In fact, it’s a long shot. However, there is no chance either of them will remain on the board at the end of Day 2, as teams with a need at guard (sound familiar, Viking fans?) start taking value picks at the positions that haven’t been picked over. They are about as good as college football has to offer, especially if you don’t consider Brandon Scherff a guard.

Center – The Curious Case of Cameron Erving will be a storyline on draft weekend. For 2½ years, Erving played left tackle – Winston’s infamous blind side protector. At mid-season, figuring there was no future for him in the NFL as a tackle, Erving was moved from left tackle to center. Wait. What? That’s right. Jimbo Fisher made the call to move him to center despite being named by ACC coaches as the best blocking lineman in the conference in 2013. Keep in mind this is the same Fisher who got Erving to switch to offensive tackle after he arrived at FSU as a highly recruited defensive tackle. As a center, Erving could have an NFL career that will last a decade or more. As an offensive tackle, he would have been exposed for his deficiencies. Erving worked out with centers at the NFL Scouting Combine and impressed to the point that he’s likely to be the first center off the board, likely in the second round for those teams with a need.

Defensive End – Mario Edwards Jr. has some name recognition going for him. In a meat market like the draft, scouts love bloodlines as much as thoroughbred breeders. Mario Sr. was a cornerback for Bobby Bowden’s Seminoles with a moderate NFL career that included three years as a starter for the Dallas Cowboys. But the younger Edwards is a talent in his own right as versatile player who is likely going to be a Day 2 pick.

Defensive Tackle – I may like Eddie Goldman more than most, but I don’t see him getting past Detroit if the Lions stay at No. 22 given the loss of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. Yet another position, yet another high pick from the FSU squad.

Cornerback – It can be argued that neither P.J. Williams (for reasons nothing to do with football) nor Ronald Darby will be first-round picks, but the longer either of them stays on the board, the more likely someone will trade up to get into the spot to grab one of them.

When you add them all up, there is the legitimate potential that 11 of the Seminoles’ 22 starters will be drafted – most of them in the first two days. If you are well-versed in SEC football, you will know more players that will go in the early, middle and late rounds of the draft, but if you only watched FSU football, you’re going to know as many players that go in the first four or five rounds of the draft as anyone.

Good luck in 2015, Jimbo. It looks like you might need it.

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