After back-to-back seasons with first round draft picks (Patrick Robinson to the Saints 32nd overall in 2010 and Christian Ponder to the Vikings 12th overall in 2011) it is unlikely that there will be any activity for Florida State on the first day of the 2012 NFL Draft, starting on Thursday night at 8 p.m.
There is also a chance that a Seminole won't be called until day three of the draft when rounds four through seven begin. If that were to happen it would mark the first time since 1987, when Gerald Nichols was the lone FSU draft pick in the seventh round by the New York Jets, that FSU didn't have a draft pick in the first three rounds.
Offensive tackle Zebrie Sanders is the best bet to keep the Seminoles streak of players drafted in the first three rounds in tact. At one time Sanders was a projected first rounder in many mock drafts, but has seen his stock slide steadily since the Senior Bowl.
On the other hand linebacker Nigel Bradham has seen his stock rise since playing in Mobile, Ala. and could sneak into the first three rounds.
Offensive tackle Zebrie Sanders, 6-foot-6, 320 pounds.
Overview: Sanders is a four-year starter along the offensive line who proved his durability with 50 career starts, including 36 straight. He impressed scouts with his measurables at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine with an arm length of 35 inches and a hand span of 10 7/8 inches. Struggled at times during his senior season with false starts among other issues.
Where he's projected: At the end of his senior season Sanders was considered a late first round pick by ESPN Scouts Inc. but has since fallen out of the top 32. His highest projection currently is a second round pick by Rob Rang of CBSSports.com and NFLdraftscout.com. NFLdraftscout ranks Sanders the 9th best offensive tackle and the 74th best prospect overall. ESPN ranks him the 8th best offensive tackle and the 91st overall prospect.
Our Projection: Right now it looks like the best bet is that Sanders will be a third round pick. It wouldn't be totally shocking to hear his name in the late second round though because he is represented by super-agent Drew Rosenhaus who has helped facilitate much more improbable draft day surprises.
Outside linebacker Nigel Bradham, 6-foot-2, 241 pounds.
Overview: Bradham was the first player since Marvin Jones to lead Florida State in tackles for three consecutive seasons. He finished his senior season with 86 tackles, 9.5 for loss, two sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Showed good athleticism at the combine and during FSU's pro day. Turned plenty of heads with a good week at the Senior Bowl, where he played middle linebacker. His athleticism and ability to play special teams will really add value to his stock.
Where he's projected: ESPN Scouts Inc. rates Bradham as a fourth round talent and the 6th best outside linebacker in the draft. NFLDraftscout.com projects him as a third round pick and the 10th best linebacker overall.
Our Projection: With the way their stocks have been going lately we think there is a chance that Bradham could leapfrog Sanders as the first Seminole to be taken in the draft in the third round. We don't expect him to go any higher than the third and no later than early in the fifth round.
Defensive back Mike Harris, 5-foot-10, 188 pounds.
Overview: In just two seasons at FSU Harris showed he had a natural nose for the ball. As a sophomore playing mostly at nickel back, Harris hauled in four interceptions and forced two fumbles. As a senior he spent more time on the outside than his first year on campus and finished second on the team with 58 tackles, six for loss, one sack, one interception, and nine pass breakups.
Where he's projected: Harris is projected a fifth to sixth-round draft pick by NFLDraftscout.com and a late round pick by ESPN Scouts Inc. He is rated the 24th best corner by NFLDraftscout and 33rd best corner by ESPN.
Our Projection: We don't expect Harris's named to be called until late in the fifth round at the earliest. His lack of speed (4.68 40-yard dash) will hurt his stock as it makes him a liability on the outside. Still Harris can play in nickel and dime packages in the NFL and has shown an ability to make plays on the ball.
Offensive tackle Andrew Datko, 6-foot-6, 315 pounds.
Overview: A one-time first to second round prospect, Datko's career was decimated by shoulder injuries. He missed three games in 2010 and played the rest of the season with two injured shoulders. In 2011 he was only able to play in the first four games of the season before his shoulder forced him to shut it down for the season. When he was healthy he was the Seminoles' best offensive lineman.
Where he's projected: Due to injuries Datko has fallen all the way to rounds six and seven by most projections. Still rated as a top-20 offensive tackle on all projections despite his injury concerns.
Our projection: We're thinking round six for Datko. He has shown plenty of positive strides in his rehab working on positional drills at the combine and FSU's pro day. Teams are going to take a risk on the big man because if he is healthy he is a second round talent. Like Sanders, Datko also has the advantage of having Rosenhaus in his corner.
Punter Shawn Powell, 6-foot-3, 248 pounds.
Overview: During his senior season Powell transformed himself into one the nation's elite punters. He led the nation with an average of 47 yards per punt, and FSU was second in the county with a net punting average of 41.3 yards. Powell used a rugby-style kick along with traditional punts to pin opponents inside their own 20-yard line 23 times in 2011.
Where he's projected:: Powell is ranked the third best punter in the draft class by most services behind California's Byran Anger and Georgia's Drew Bulter. Both ESPN Scouts Inc. and NFLdraftscout.com project him as a free agent signee.
Our Projection: Powell is in our opinion the best punter available in the class. Still it's not often that teams will use draft picks on kickers of any kind and not being drafted would actually turn out better for Powell who could choose who he signs with. We don't expect him to be picked because he is a punter but if he does go it wont' be until the seventh round.
Undrafted free agent candidates: Safety Terrance Parks, tight end Beau Reliford, wide receiver Bert Reed, and running back Jermaine Thomas.