Coley Harvey | Orlando Sentinel FSU reporter
4:30 AM AKST, February 19, 2013
TALLAHASSEE -- Chances are high that in late April during televised coverage of the NFL Draft, the words "Florida State" will be said as frequently as the words "Alabama" and "Louisiana State University."
With 13 former Seminoles making the trip this week to Indianapolis for the NFL Combine, FSU has a healthy representation in this year's draft class. It is the deepest and most talented batch of pro football hopefuls with FSU ties in a dozen years.
LSU also will have 13 former players attending the Combine. That ties the Seminoles for the most representation from a single university.
As the draft, which occurs the final weekend of April, approaches, FSU is looking at the real possibility of having a pair of defensive ends taken in the first two rounds. An offensive tackle who only played two seasons of football -- only one of those at FSU -- also could sneak into the first round or two. A linebacker, who was a Combine snub, could be among the draft-weekend steals. A quarterback who spent his last five years trying to prove himself in the college game looks to do the same as a likely middle-round selection.
(If you're keeping score, the d-ends were Bjoern Werner and Cornellius "Tank" Carradine; the offensive tackle was Menelik Watson; the linebacker was Vince Williams; and the quarterback was ... you guessed it, EJ Manuel.)
Ahead of this week's Combine, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock met with reporters on a conference call Monday afternoon to discuss the draft and where he believed various players could be selected. He looked at the upside, potential and weaknesses of those players. He also tried to explain how certain athletes will fit with particular systems once they make it to the big league.
With respect to FSU's hopefuls, Mayock has several beliefs about this group.
In a nutshell, he ...
... thinks Werner's top-10 overall projections are a little high. Werner isn't as quick getting to the quarterback as maybe he's perceived to be, Mayock said.
... believes Werner, Carradine and Watson could all be first-rounders, but a late-season ACL injury to Carradine likely will push the lineman into the second round.
... unsure how Watson's lacking experience will truly translate to the NFL.
... likes Manuel, but isn't quite sure his draft stock is rising as much as other analysts would have us all believe. He wants Manuel to go into the Combine without thinking too much. He has all the tools. Just play and let them take over, Mayock said.
Thanks to the folks at NFL Network, we have here on the blog the transcript from Monday's teleconference. Check out what Mayock specifically said about FSU's draft hopefuls. Specifically, he spoke about Werner, Carradine, Watson and Manuel.
Q. Mike, I'd like to ask you if there is any pass¿rushing depth at the defensive end position around 30 where the Falcons will be picking. A lot of folks think tight end, but wanted to check on the D-end talent, the late first round, early second round?
MAYOCK: Yeah, I have a little different opinion than what I'm hearing a lot of people have on these quote 4-3 defensive ends. I'm not as high on these guys as some people are.
For instance, I don't think Bjoern Werner or Damontre Moore are top 10 players. They might go in the top 10, but I don't see it that way. As you start dropping down later, what happens is Ezekial “Zeke” Ansah from BYU, he's got as much upside as anybody in this draft. I don't think he gets to [pick number] 30. Sam Montgomery, the defensive end from LSU is a guy that could be there.
And Barkevious Mingo gets a lot more of the attention, but I feel like Sam Montgomery brings it every snap more than Mingo does. He's not as quick, he's not as gifted, but he's very physical and tough.
A couple other names to keep an eye on, whether it's the first round or a little later after that. Tank Carradine, the quote “other” defensive end at Florida State who had a medical issue, he probably had first-round talent. He's probably going to go in the second or third round, and somebody's going to get a steal with this kid because of his natural upside.
Alex Okafor from Texas is a second or third=round guy. But sitting there at 30, that's a tough place, because I think Werner, Moore and Ansah, are going to be gone, and you start to get into Sam Montgomery and some of these other guys.
Q. You said that you didn't grade Damontre Moore and Bjoern Werner as highly as maybe some other people have been. What are you not seeing in those guys?
MAYOCK: I'm not seeing a quick twitch ability to get to the quarterback. Werner is a tough kid, he's got a good motor. He's got a good get-off I like his end usage, especially for a guy that's playing a lot of football. He doesn't have that clean get off and go.
Coming from a top 5 defensive end, that is kind of what you want to see. And with Damontre Moore, he's long, but, again, he does everything pretty well in the pass game but I don't see that elite, quick-twitch burst, and I also don't see a great run defender. I think he's average against the run at best.
When I look at those kind of guys, I value them. I like them, but I like them later in the first round, not in the Top 10.
Q. I was just wondering if you could talk a little bit about Menelik Watson, and I see you've got a number five on your offensive tackle board. He's a guy that's really raw. What do you see from him on film that has you have him that high, despite only playing about 20 games?
MAYOCK: Yeah, he's one of those guys that's really long with great movement skills. When you see that, you want to make sure that you want to check out the kind of person he is.
He has first-round talent. I know he's raw and 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. I can't imagine being the head coach at Saddleback Junior College when Menelik Watson and Kyle Long walked on to campus two years ago and said I'm here to play ball.
Pretty amazing that they were the two offensive tackles in junior college today, and Watson, I think, could be a first rounder. Long might be at the end of the day also. So both of those kids are really talented, but underdeveloped and raw kids.
For me the real test for Watson is how he tests out with the teams. Is he smart, a hard worker, does he learn quickly? All of those things will ultimately determine if he gets his name called in the first round.
Q. I heard what you said about the quarterback from Syracuse. But if there is another guy, a quarterback other than Geno Smith that had you to name that you think might really elevate himself this weekend, who would it be?
MAYOCK: As far as the quarterback position is concerned, E.J. Manuel is a guy that I thought had a pretty solid Senior Bowl week and played really well in the game. Big, strong, physical kid. He's got some natural physical running ability also, not that he's a running quarterback, but he's an athletic kid and I like him. I like his attitude. I just want to see him come out and rip it this weekend.
Just throw the ball. Don't worry about it. Sometimes his technique isn't always consistent, his foot work, etc. But that doesn't matter. Get out there, let them see your arm talent, throw the ball.
Q. Hey, Mike, can you talk a little about EJ Manuel, and what do you think -- where do you think he'll go in it draft? Also, I'm not sure you pinned down which defensive end or outside linebacker you thought would be good for the Browns at six?
MAYOCK: As far as EJ Manuel is concerned, going to the Senior Bowl, there were people all over the board on him. Fourth, fifth, sixth round grades on this kid because this past season he was up and down, and, justifiably, grades were all over, all over the board.
Now I thought he had a good week. He's got mechanical issues with foot work and timing. The more pressure he comes under in a game as far as edge or any flashes of color, his mechanics break down a little bit, and that's typical of a lot of college quarterbacks.
So I get nervous when I see that because he doesn't have that solid a base from a fundamental perspective. But he's got a live arm, and he's really athletic. So I think he helped himself in The Senior Bowl, and he'll end up going in the third or fourth round.
Now as far as the Browns, the second question was what? The defense or linebacker class?
Q. The question was which of those defensive ends or outside linebackers would you think would be the best fit for the Browns at six?
MAYOCK: Yeah, I think it's Jarvis Jones. I'm not as -- I had mentioned earlier, I'm not as big on Bjoern Werner at six or Damontre Moore at six. Other people will be, but I'm not.
I think that Jarvis Jones is the guy, as long as he checks out medically, whose value is commensurate of the sixth pick.