The 2022 NFL draft just wrapped up less than a week ago. So, what better time to start looking ahead to next year than right now?
Florida State produced one draft pick this year, former star defensive end Jermaine Johnson. The New York Jets traded back into the first round to select Johnson. Following that, it was tough sledding for the remainder of the weekend as running back Jashaun Corbin, defensive end Keir Thomas, and tight end Jordan Wilson ended up as undrafted free agents.
This is the second time in the last three years that the Seminoles have only had one player drafted. The program has had a total of eight players selected in the draft since 2018 and four of those picks came in 2021.
That's something that could change in the near future. According to a recent mock from Draft Countdown, five Seminoles are projected to be selected in the top three rounds during the 2023 NFL Draft. A few of these names might be surprises to the fanbase.
Robert Scott, Offensive Tackle, No. 26 overall pick
Scott is a trending name in professional circles after two seasons as a starter at Florida State where he showed promising capabilities. He was listed on Sports Illustrated's 2023 draft Big Board and has appeared in multiple mock drafts as a first-round pick.
That continues here with Draft Countdown slotting Scott in as the No. 26 overall selection to the Cincinnati Bengals. The reigning super bowl runner-ups have an obvious need on the offensive line. Scott would bring youth and potential to a unit that needs to prepare for a future under quarterback Joe Burrow. He can further solidify his status with a dominating campaign as a redshirt sophomore.
Stephen Dix Jr, Linebacker, No. 70 overall pick
As mentioned previously, there are some surprises in this mock draft and none may be more eye-opening than backup linebacker Stephen Dix Jr. being predicted to the Dallas Cowboys in the third round. After starting five games as a true freshman, Dix Jr. saw his playing time dwindle off in 2021.
The Florida native has the build of a professional linebacker but he has to improve his instincts against the run and the pass while learning to take better angles from sideline to sideline.
Considering that the Seminoles play primarily a 4-2-5, snaps may be tough to come by for Dix Jr. this year. Kalen DeLoach, DJ Lundy, and Amari Gainer will all play roles at linebacker. Transfer Tatum Bethune has a legitimate chance to start alongside DeLoach.
Maurice Smith, Center, No. 77 overall pick
This one might be a little unexpected as well because Smith's size has led him to have an up and down career at Florida State so far. Regardless, this mock has him going in the middle of the third round to the New England Patriots. The Patriots need to shore up their offensive line around quarterback Mac Jones. There have been some questions about starting center David Andrews' availability in the past, leading to why some believe they could invest in the future of the position.
Smith has dealt with some injuries of his own at Florida State. During his three years with the Seminoles, he's appeared in 21 games with 18 starts. The 6-foot-3, 271-pound center will be jockeying with transfer Kayden Lyles for the starting spot in the fall.
Robert Cooper, Defensive Tackle, No. 80 overall pick
Cooper has a legitimate chance to be selected in the upcoming draft if he can put together a solid final season at Florida State. He's been a consistent presence in the middle of the defense for years and is one of the faces of the team heading into the fall. Draft Countdown mocks Cooper to the defending super bowl champions, the Los Angeles Rams, likely to provide depth on a defensive line that will be fielding an aging Aaron Donald in 2023.
The Georgia native has totaled 104 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks during his collegiate career. His size makes him an ideal fit as a nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme at the professional level.
Akeem Dent, Safety, No. 81 overall pick
One selection later, redshirt junior safety Akeem Dent goes off the board to the Houston Texans, making him the fourth Florida State player to be selected in the third round in this mock, and the fifth overall. Dent got off to a fast start as a true freshman but regressed some in 2020.
The former five-star prospect returned to form this past season and developed into a stalwart safety opposite of Jammie Robinson. Dent is primed for a breakout season in 2022 in a defensive backfield that is stacked with talent and experience.
Stick with NoleGameday for coverage of Florida State football throughout the offseason.
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