Chris Steuber Journal
Posted: August 8, 2012
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Ross Obley/FSU Sports Information | Illustration by Chris Steuber
Jenkins is projected to be a first-round pick next April and should be a target of a 3-4 team.
It’s that time of year again, college football fall camps opened around the country this week, and NFL teams dispatched their scouts across the land to observe the abundance of talent that will be on display in 2012 for the 2013 NFL Draft.
One team that has high expectations this season is the ACC favorite Florida State Seminoles, who USA Today ranked seventh in the preseason polls. Even though it’s early in camp, I’m told that a scout from the San Francisco 49ers has already been sighted at practice.
The 49ers presence at Florida State camp is the start of a long scouting process, but Tallahassee being one of their first stops is intriguing since they used their first three selections this past April on offensive players, and the Seminoles have three outstanding draft-eligible defensive prospects – senior defensive end/outside linebacker Brandon Jenkins, junior cornerback Xavier Rhodes and junior defensive end Bjoern Werner – who I ranked in my initial top 100.
At 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, Jenkins is the highest rated Seminole on my board, checking in at No. 10 overall. One of the most explosive pass rushers in the country, Jenkins has primarily played at the defensive end position during his first three seasons at Florida State and has amassed 21.5 sacks over the last two years. But, he’s a scheme diverse defender, who translates best as an outside linebacker at the next level.
Starting opposite Jenkins on the Seminoles defensive line is the 6-4, 273-pound German-born Werner, who in his first-year as a starter in 2011 showcased his immense talent by generating 37 tackles and seven sacks. Currently ranked 73rd overall on my top 100 list, Werner is an extremely hardworking end who possesses great strength and gives maximum effort. He’s still developing physically and has a lot to learn from a technical standpoint, but the raw talent and instincts that he possesses are evident, and if he continues his ascension and decides to leave school after his junior campaign, he should receive interest from teams that run 3-4 and 4-3 schemes.
Of the three aforementioned Florida State defenders, Rhodes has the highest ceiling and is currently rated 25th overall on my board. At 6-1, 215, Rhodes is a dynamic playmaker and has the physical tools to be an elite corner in the NFL. Entering his third-year as a starter for the Seminoles, Rhodes was bothered by a lingering leg injury last season, but played through it and still managed to register 43 tackles and an interception. However, those numbers were way down from his production in 2010 when he recorded 58 tackles and four interceptions.
The level of interest the Niners may have in Jenkins, Werner and Rhodes is unknown, but all three defenders could help one of the NFL’s most feared defenses in 2013 and beyond.
The Niners appear to be set at linebacker for the foreseeable future with Patrick Willis, Navarro Bowman, Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks starting at the second level, but teams that run a 3-4 scheme can never have enough edge pass rushers. They could also use more depth upfront, especially with Justin Smith turning 33 in September and scheduled to be a free agent in 2014, and in the secondary, where an upgrade over Tarell Brown could be considered.
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Chris Steuber has covered the NFL and NFL Draft for multiple media outlets over the last decade, and has appeared on numerous radio and television programs, including: The Colin Cowherd Show, NFL Network's Path to the Draft and Daily News Live on Comcast SportsNet (Philadelphia)... full biography