Tuesday, March 19, 2013
A lot on the line for FSU prospects
By David M. Hale
It's been a while since pro day workouts at Florida State came with quite so much fanfare, but this year's event, which gives former FSU stars a chance to workout for NFL scouts and executives, is chock full of intrigue.
Although more than a dozen former Seminoles will be participating in today's workouts, a few have a bit more to gain (or lose) than the rest. Here's a quick look at which of FSU's NFL hopefuls has the most on the line today.
Big, experienced, athletic EJ Manuel could climb draft boards thanks to a weak quarterback crop.
EJ Manuel (QB): The names at the top of the draft boards for most teams looking for a quarterback have been shuffled a handful of times throughout the year, and Manuel has largely hovered on the periphery. But while the overall class is considered weak, Manuel could be viewed as a solid investment. He's got the physical tools to warrant first-round consideration, and he's worked for five years in an NFL system at FSU. While he didn't overwhelm observers during the combine, pro day offers a second chance to impress on his home turf. Jimbo Fisher believes a strong performance could have Manuel in the late first, early second-round mix.
Bjoern Werner (DE): When the season ended, Werner was a hot commodity, with some mock drafts projecting him as a top five selection and, perhaps, the highest drafted Seminole in program history. That enthusiasm has cooled a bit, however, after a mediocre performance at the NFL combine. It's not that Werner was bad, but so much of what he does best is underscored far better in game conditions than a scouting combine. Still, he can make up some of the ground he lost with an impressive day on campus, which could mean quite a bit financially. Last year's third overall pick (the highest Werner's been on draft boards) signed for more than $20 million. The 30th overall pick (where ESPN's Mel Kiper currently has Werner projected) signed for less than $7 million.
Greg Reid (CB): There's little guaranteed for the former FSU star, who's waging an uphill battle against both physical worries and character concerns. Reid was dismissed from the FSU program before fall camp last year, then tore his ACL before playing a game for Valdosta State. He's now more than six months removed from surgery, and among his peers at FSU he's still considered a hard-working leader. It's the ideal environment for Reid to turn a few heads among scouts and potentially find his way into the latter rounds of the daft.
Vince Williams (LB): Like Reid and a handful of others, Williams is working on the edges of many draft boards. He split playing time at middle linebacker at FSU and wasn't widely considered a significant pro prospect, but he wowed at the Senior Bowl and forced some teams to take notice. Still, Williams didn't get a combine invitation, which means his pro day performance will be magnified all that much more. A strong workout could push him into a more solidified status for the draft, but even a solid effort should drum up interest if he ends up signing as an undrafted free agent.
The rehabbing stars: It may not be a complete day of workouts for a handful of players recovering from injuries, but if Brandon Jenkins (foot), Cornellius Carradine (knee) and Chris Thompson (knee) can do enough to show they're progressing as expected, it should alleviate any serious concerns NFL execs may have. All figure to be hurt to some degree by the injuries that cost them playing time in 2012, but none appear to be behind schedule in their recoveries.