- Jared Shanker, ESPN Staff Writer
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If you believed the NFL draft narrative surrounding Terrence Brooks just three months ago, the prevailing thought was his time would be better served lying along one of the Gulf Coast’s sandy white beaches rather than glued to the TV on Thursday and Friday. Beat the weekend beach crowds and wait for his agent to sift through undrafted offers before appraising Brooks, or, if he was so lucky, to let him know which team spent a late-round flier.
Back in early January, the former Florida State safety was likely at best a third-day selection in the NFL’s relatively new format that runs from Thursday through Saturday. Fast forward to the eve of the draft, and there is chatter the previously overlooked defensive back could slip into the first round. So, instead of sitting in the sun, he will sit patiently on the sofa with his girlfriend in the Florida beach destination of Destin.
“I expect to be [drafted] really high,” Brooks told ESPN.com on Friday. “No clue [which round], but I’m pretty sure it will be kind of high. You never know what could happen [Thursday].”
Brooks’ meteoric rise -- no player is moving quicker up perceived draft boards -- did not begin until the 5-foot-11, 198-pound senior left Florida State. Two weeks after the national championship game, Brooks was participating in the Senior Bowl and entered the first step of the postseason draft whirlwind as just the fourth-best Seminoles prospect in Mobile, Ala., working out. There were only four Florida State players at the Senior Bowl. With each defensive drill, Brooks flashed and caught the eye of scouts, coaches and general managers evaluating from along the fences. By the end of the week, Brooks’ name was circulating among prominent front office voices.
A month later at the NFL combine, those same coaches and personnel executives were staring at their stopwatches questioning if their trigger finger was premature in stopping the clock. Brooks ran the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds, tops among safeties. He also finished first at his position in the vertical (38 inches) and broad jump (119 inches).
From there, Brooks asked NFL teams to double back to his junior and senior film -- he was a cornerback his first two seasons -- and finally give him the honest evaluation he felt was warranted even before the 2013 season.
“Coming from that defense, we have a lot of guys who are dynamic and I got lost in the shuffle, which is not bad because we had a great team,” Brooks admits. “A lot of people didn’t know too much about me until they saw the tape or combine. Having the chance to go to the Senior Bowl and the combine, it helped my name out a lot.”
In a bit of irony, the first Florida State defensive player taken in the draft could be Brooks. Timmy Jernigan, previously believed to be a certain first-round pick, is sliding into the second round as he and former Seminoles linebackers Christian Jones and Telvin Smith all reportedly failed drug tests at the combine. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. lists Brooks as the No. 4-ranked safety and No. 80 overall, fifth among Florida State players.
All Brooks needs is one team to buy into his talent and tape and make him a first- or early second-round pick, a distinction Brooks feels he is “very much worth it.”
“I’m in the talk of being one of the best safeties in the country and that’s only two years at the position. My upside is a lot higher,” he said. “I’m ready for a team to take that chance and leave out the hype and see who the great players really are.”
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