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FSU Pro Day Primer

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On Tuesday, NFL scouts, coaches and general managers will converge on Tallahassee for Florida State’s annual pro day. Much like other schools around the country, pro day is a chance for pro prospects to work out and perform drills in front of NFL scouts in the familiarity of their home turf. Unlike previous years, Florida State does not have a great number of elite talents headed to the NFL this year, save Jalen Ramsey. However, there are a handful of players who could be mid-round selections and this will be their last chance to perform in front of the entirety of the league before draft day. Let’s take a look at each position group and see what each prospect can do to help their draft grade.

Defensive Linemen

The big name of this group is defensive tackle Nile Lawrence-Stample. The 2016 NFL Draft features a deep group of interior defensive linemen, but Lawrence-Stample’s senior tape should help him get drafted anywhere from rounds three to five. He did not participate in any drills at the Combine, perhaps due to a nagging injury, but will have a chance to perform in all field drills on Tuesday. The 40-yard dash will get a lot of attention, but scouts will pay more attention to the 10-yard split instead of the overall time. The bench press and on-field drills will be drills that NFL scouts will be paying attention to for Lawrence-Stample as well.

Defensive end Giorgio Newberry also received an invite to the Combine. Unfortunately, he largely underperformed compared to many other prospects there but will have a chance to improve on all his numbers at pro day. He has impressive size for a defensive end and could possibly play end in both 4-3 and 3-4 schemes. Two drills that could help Newberry’s draft stock are the vertical and broad jump, which both test lower body explosiveness.

Finally, defensive tackle Derrick Mitchell will also be participating in pro day. He started most of 2014 when Nile Lawrence-Stample was out with an injury, but was passed by sophomore Derrick Nnadi last season.

Linebackers

Florida State will have two seasoned starters participating in pro day. Outside linebacker Terrance Smith has been a three-year starter dating back to the 2013 national championship squad. He was performed well at the East-West Shrine Game and was invited to the Combine, where he performed reasonably well. It will be interesting to see what Smith weighs in at pro day. He weighed in at 235 lbs. in Indianapolis after playing at around 220 lbs. while at Florida State. If he’s healthy, expect Smith to take part in all drills to improve on his numbers.

Linebacker Reggie Northrup will also participate in pro day. Despite being a two-year starter for the Seminoles, he was not invited to the Combine. However, he performed well at the NFLPA Bowl in California, showcasing an improvement on his pass coverage skills that he lacked in college. Northrup is a downhill, run-stopping linebacker who might have the best chance out of any of the non-Combine invites from FSU’s pro day to get drafted if he performs well on Tuesday. While it’s not a drill that is usually taken into consideration in linebacker evaluation, Northrup could draw some attention with a good 40-yard dash time. For a prospect on the verge of getting drafted like this, an impressive time in one drill could be the difference between a seventh round selection and going undrafted.

Lastly, Lorenzo Phillips will also be participating in pro day. Phillips originally started his college career at LSU before going to a junior college en route to FSU. He was listed as a junior per FSU’s official roster last season, but had eligibility issues and is no longer with the team. He played in limited action last year, mostly on special teams, but could showcase some of the talent that made him a blue-chip recruit coming out of high school.

Defensive Backs

Obviously, Jalen Ramsey will be the top prospect at FSU’s pro day. He’s the reason why NFL Network and ESPN cameras will be there and the reason why most head coaches and general managers will be making their way to Tallahassee. After a very impressive performance at the Combine, it is unlikely that Ramsey will participate in any sort of testing. Ramsey will likely participate in the defensive back drills that will be run, but there’s not much he can do for his stock at the pro day. He’s already being talked about as the possible first overall selection, a feat that defensive backs usually never accomplish. Instead of drills, look instead to see how much interest Titans head coach Mike Mularkey and general manager Jon Robinson have in him. If they’re eyeing Ramsey like a hawk, you can be sure that he’s definitely on their board for the first overall pick.

The second Florida State defensive back that was invited to the Combine was safety Lamarcus Brutus. A one-year starter for the Seminoles, Brutus led the team in interceptions during his senior season and showcased the skills to be a rangy safety in the league. However, Brutus isn’t the most athletic prospect in the draft and it showed at the Combine. FSU’s pro day will be a great chance for Brutus to improve on all of his numbers, especially his 40-yard dash time, and show an improvement in the on-the-field defensive back drills as well.

Three other former FSU defensive backs will also be participating in pro day. Safety Tyler Hunter has been a major contributor throughout his college career, but was benched last season due to coverage issues. Former walk-on Javien Elliott was the player who replaced Hunter. He showcased some good playmaking abilities, but is limited athletically. Finally, safety Keelin Smith came to FSU as a highly-ranked recruit, but has been a career backup throughout college. Out of these three, Elliott has perhaps the best chance to make an NFL roster, but has to gain a lot of weight in order to handle playing at the next level.

Special Teams

Outside of Jalen Ramsey, the biggest name at Florida State’s pro day might be kicker Roberto Aguayo. A former Lou Groza award winner, Aguayo departs Florida State as the most accurate kicker in NCAA history and Florida State’s second three time All-American (the other being Deion Sanders). Like the Combine, it is unlikely the Aguayo will participate in any sort of testing or on-the-field drills but his stock is already at an all-time high anyways. He is clearly the best kicker in the draft and could be a day two selection come April.

Apart from Aguayo, punter Cason Beatty will also be participating in pro day. A four-year starter for the Seminoles, Beatty’s career has been an up and down affair. After poor performances during his freshman and sophomore seasons, he showed improvement during his junior year and had some great games during his senior campaign. While there is a very low chance Beatty is drafted, a good performance at pro day in punting drills could convince an NFL team to bring him in as a priority free agent after the draft is over.

Other

Much like other big-name programs around the country, Florida State will open its doors to some former Seminoles who have left for other programs. It grants those players a chance to perform in front of a larger audience as opposed to the small crowd that gathers at lower-tier programs. This year, Florida State welcomes back offensive lineman Ruben Carter and wide receiver Greg Dent to participate in pro day. Carter, mostly a backup at FSU, transferred to Toledo following the 2015 season and started most of the year at center for the Rockets. Dent was dismissed from FSU because of a sexual assault charge, but revived his career at Valdosta State. The 5-11, 200 lb. receiver caught 60 passes for 863 yards and six touchdowns in 2015 and will be able to showcase his skill set in front of a larger audience on Tuesday.

Dakota Moyer
Florida State student and writer for NoleGameday.

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