The next step in the path to the NFL Draft begins this weekend for a dozen former Florida State players, as well as former cornerback Greg Reid.
Including Reid, FSU will send 13 players to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Ind., which begins on Saturday with specialists and offensive lineman and concludes on Tuesday with defensive backs. The 13 invites is tied with LSU for the most at this year's combine.
The four-day process of medical exams, interviews, mental tests, mixed in with on-field performances can determine whether a player's draft stock is rising on sliding heading towards the NFL Draft on April 25.
As important as the Combine is to every player, it could really boost the draft stock of a handful of Seminoles according to NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock. Guys like Xavier Rhodes and Menelik Watson have a chance to give themselves a first round value, while EJ Manuel could push himself into the top group of available quarterbacks.
Mayock currently rates Rhodes as the No. 2 corner in the draft, behind only Dee Millner from Alabama. Despite his position ranking, Mayock said Rhodes currently has a second round grade, but could propel himself into the first round with a solid 40-yard dash times.
"I think the question for most of the corners after Millner are about pure speed," Mayock said on a conference call for media members on Monday. "Rhodes, (Jonathan) Banks, (Desmond) Trufant if any of those guys run well
I've only got one corner with a first round grade but after the combine I expect to have more."
While Rhodes has an impressive track record to fall back on as a three-year starter at FSU, Watson doesn't have quite as much film to evaluate if things don't go well for the offensive tackle.
Since the 6-foot-6, 320-pound tackle declared for the draft his stock has sky-rocketed, despite only playing 12 games at the Division I level and just eight more at Saddleback (Calif.) Junior College.
"He's one of those guys that's really long with great movement skills," Mayock said. "When you see that the next thing want to check out is what person he is and that's what I need to find out. I think he has first round talent. I know he's raw and he's undeveloped, but I get excited when I see a physical skill-set as good as his. He looks like a natural left tackle to me."
Mayock currently has Watson tied with Justin Pugh of Syracuse as the fifth-best tackle in the draft calls. If Watson can impressive on the white board and in the interview room in Indinappolis the Manchester, England native could end up a first round selection.
"For me the real test for Watson is going to be how he tests out with the teams," Mayock said. "Is he smart? Is he a hard worker? Does he learn quickly? All those things will ultimately determine if he gets his named called in the first round."
Mayock currently doesn't have Manuel in his top five quarterbacks available, despite him being named Senior Bowl MVP after going 7 of 10 for 76 yards and touchdown. He currently has the former FSU signal caller as a third or fourth round pick.
| size="2">NFL Combine Invites |
|DE ||Tank Carradine |
|DT ||Everett Dawkins |
|K ||Dustin Hopkins |
|DE ||Brandon Jenkins |
|QB ||EJ Manuel |
|DT ||Everett Dawkins |
|LB ||Nick Moody |
|RB ||Lonnie Pryor |
|CB ||Greg Reid |
|CB ||Xavier Rhodes |
|WR ||Rodney Smith |
|RB ||Chris Thompson |
|OT ||Menelik Watson |
|DE ||Bjoern Werner |
"EJ Manuel is a guy that I thought had a pretty solid Senior Bowl week and then played really well in the game," Mayock said. "Big, strong, physical kid. He's got some natural physical running ability, not that he's a running quarterback, but it's just he's an athletic kid and I like him. Like his attitude.
"I just want to see him come out and just kind of rip it this weekend. Just throw the ball, don't worry about. Sometimes his technique isn't always consistent, his footwork etcetera, but that doesn't matter. Just get out there let them see your arm talent and throw the ball."
It's unlikely that Reid, Chris Thompson, Brandon Jenkins and Cornellius Carradine will be able to fully workout as they recover from injuries. Still they could improve their stock with good interviews.
For defensive end Bjoern Werner, who Mayock rates the top at his position, the week will be all about maintaining his stock. Many feel he will be the No. 2 pick in the draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Mayock doesn't have Werner rated that high, but thinks it possible he could go that high if he fits a team's needs.
"I'm not as high on these (4-3 ends) as some people are," Mayock said. "For instance I don't think Bjoern Werner and Damontre Moore (Texas A&M) are Top 10 players. They might go in the Top 10 but I don't see it that way."
While he thinks Werner could benefit from draft class that lacks breakout stars in the top half, he believes Carradine could end up being on the best value picks of the draft.
"A couple names to keep an eye on whether it's the first round or later after that, Tank Carradine the quote 'other defensive end at Florida State'," Mayock said. "He probably had first round talent. He's probably going to go in the second or third round and somebody is going to get a steal with this kid because of his natural upside."
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