- David M. Hale, ESPN Staff Writer
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More than four months remain before the 2013 NFL draft, and everything from the senior bowl to the combine to individual workouts can shake things up significantly between today and the moment when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell steps to the stage to announce his first name in April.
Much of that mystery trickles down to Florida State, which at various times since this summer has had as many as five different players discussed as possible, probable or even definitive first-rounders.
As it stands at the moment, however, the Seminoles might have just one: Bjoern Werner.
Never mind that Werner has yet to announce an official decision on whether he'll forego his senior season at Florida State. That seems a near inevitability after the loss of both his defensive coordinator and position coach, along with his firsthand witnessing of cautionary tales of fellow defensive ends destined for first-round status who later suffered season-ending injuries.
In his first mock draft, ESPN's Todd McShay doesn't simply list Werner as a first rounder, but goes so far as to project the FSU junior as the third overall pick.
[The Raiders] would face a tough call between Werner and LSU DE Barkevious Mingo, who has a better natural skill set as a pass-rusher and would give the Raiders a lighter, faster edge rusher. However, Werner is the more consistent player and has a better all-around game.
If McShay's projection proved accurate, it would be the earliest a Florida State player has been selected in the NFL draft since Arizona took Andre Wadsworth with the third overall pick in 1998. Even if Werner slides a few spots -- Mel Kiper Jr. has him eighth on his big board -- he'd still be just the third first-round pick out of FSU in the past five years, and the highest overall pick since Peter Warrick (fourth) and Corey Simon (sixth) were selected in 2000.
But what of the rest of the Seminoles' 2013 draft class? Here's a quick look at where the other potential pros might stand.
Xavier Rhodes (CB)
Rhodes has floated toward the bottom of the first round and early part of the second round in mock drafts for nearly two years now. His size and speed should impress during workouts this spring. If he does slip into the first round -- and again, he has yet to announce he'll turn pro either -- it would mark the first time FSU has had multiple first-rounders in the same year since 2006.
EJ Manuel (QB)
After looking dominant against Clemson, Manuel was in the midst of the Heisman talk and generally discussed as the No. 3 or 4 quarterback in a somewhat weak class. His star has cooled markedly since then, but there remain few other elite prospects at the position. Given his arm strength, size and athleticism -- not to mention he's the type who will make a good impression in interviews -- it's likely some team will decide his flaws are fixable and roll the dice, possibly as early as the second round. The Senior Bowl could be a showcase for him.
Brandon Jenkins (DE)
A Week 1 foot injury ruined his senior season, but the good news for Jenkins is that evaluators have plenty of film on him, he's in exceptional shape despite the injury, and he should be nearly 100 percent in time for the combine. He could easily fit at outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, and if he has a strong spring he could slip back into the second or early third round.
Cornellius Carradine (DE)
Another injured defensive end, and another missed opportunity. Carradine tore his ACL against Florida, just when draft experts were pegging him ahead of even Werner on some boards. Jimbo Fisher argued Carradine might fall just a round, and McShay agrees, but with limited tape and the potential argument that he benefited from Werner's greatness, he could drop a bit more.
None are considered prized prospects, but all three have the physical size at their positions to make them a nice project for a team. Dawkins may have the most upside (Rounds 4-5 perhaps) while Smith and McCloud are likely later-round selections.
Both players may be the best in the nation at positions not highly regarded in the draft. They both figure to be sixth- or seventh-rounders.
Both players have had long but less-than-illustrious careers. They may not be drafted, but both figure to land free-agent deals somewhere.
At this point, it would be a mild surprise if either departed for the NFL after the season. If either did, he'd figure to be a mid-round pick, with Joyner limited by his size and Jones still needing some refinement on his immense talent.