Months of on-campus workouts replaced the NFL’s official combine. Zoom interviews were mandated instead of on-site visits.
It’s tough to make an impression. Some prospects were able to participate in Senior Bowl workouts, which helped scouts in the evaluation process. But juniors were not, meaning their Pro Days at Florida State (and other schools) weighed heavily. And then there was one Zoom after another as teams lined up interviews and follow-up interviews to meet with players.
Now they will be on edge of their seats from Thursday through Saturday for the seven-round NFL draft. Round 1 is Thursday (8 p.m.), rounds 2 and 3 on Friday (7 p.m.) and the final four rounds on Saturday (noon). ESPN, NFL Network and ABC plan to broadcast all three days, although ESPN programming may shift to ESPN2.
We’ll take a quick look at what FSU’s draft prospects bring to the table and where they are projected in mock drafts, starting in order of those who could come off the board first.
Asante Samuel Jr.
Height/weight: 5-foot-10, 180 pounds
FSU stats: 97 tackles, four interceptions
Scouting report: Most coaches believe in bloodlines and the comp on Asante Samuel Jr. is his dad. Same height and weight. The dad was a four-time Pro Bowl pick and won a pair of Super Bowls. Samuel Jr. consistently graded well on a week-to-week basis and is considered one of the top corners in the draft. He ran an unofficial 4.44 in the 40 at FSU’s Pro Day, showing off his agility, footwork and 35-inch vertical. He will need to match the size and physicality of taller NFL receivers. Is he a No. 1 corner from the start? No. It’s easy to pick apart Samuel Jr. for what he lacks in height but he could be a 10-year NFL player at corner or nickel.
Mock drafts: Samuel Jr. is most frequently projected as an early second-round pick but could be snapped up late in the first round.
Height/weight: 6-foot-3, 215 pounds
FSU stats: 233 tackles, including 101 as a junior in 2019
Scouting report: If the tape doesn’t lie, perhaps this is telling: Nasirildeen was the missing piece of the FSU defense for two months of 2020. His absence speaks volumes about how good he is and how much he can do more than just make tackles (erase big plays). Nasirildeen is viewed as one of the top 5 safeties in the draft, a downhill player who will be a thumper. He didn’t have to return to the field in 2020 — his draft stock was likely secured off his 2019 tape — but he did it for a variety of reasons and that’s also a positive impression for NFL scouts. Nasirildeen is ideally a box safety because of his size and can move well side to side but will have to work on his coverage skills overall.
Mock drafts: We’ve seen Nasirildeen projected as high as round 2 and as low as round 5, which seems absurdly low. It’s hard to imagine Nasirildeen is still on the board by the end of round 3 and round 2 is a likely landing spot.
Height/weight: 6-4, 303
FSU stats: 109 tackles, 9.5 sacks
Scouting report: Perhaps Wilson’s greatest strength is he has learned from Odell Haggins, who has a reputation of developing NFL defensive tackles like Darnell Dockett, Timmy Jernigan, Eddie Goldman and Derrick Nnadi. Teams know from a technique standpoint that Haggins’ linemen have learned proper technique. The question with Wilson is if teams are getting the motor and production of 2018 and ’19 or the 2020 version that had added weight and battled injuries. If a team’s executives feel they have a veteran defensive tackle who can take Wilson under his wing and be a mentor, he is worth the pick in the middle rounds.
Mock drafts: The consensus with Wilson is he is a fourth-round pick.
Height/weight: 6-foot-5, 263 pounds
FSU stats: 104 tackles, eight sacks
Scouting report: A team will fall in love with Robinson’s frame, upside and wingspan (86 inches). At FSU, Robinson showed he could pressure the quarterback but not consistently. He often struggled against the run and couldn’t shed blockers. Robinson was a standout at the Senior Bowl with a few sacks. One theory with Robinson is that his mom’s house in Panama City has been rebuilt, thanks to donations from the FSU community following Hurricane Michael, and he no longer takes that burden to the field. If NFL teams also subscribe to that theory, they will overlook some of the shortcomings and inconsistency on film and look to grab a prospect who could develop into an effective pass rusher.
Mock drafts: Robinson is viewed as a fourth- or fifth-round pick.
Height/weight: 6-foot-6, 260 pounds
FSU stats: 59 tackles, eight sacks
Scouting report: Injuries limited Kaindoh in 2019 and ’20. He was the star of FSU’s preseason camp last August but it didn’t show on the field. Early in his career, Kaindoh flashed promise and was able to chase down ball carriers. But injuries appear to have robbed him of the burst off the edge. If healthy, Kaindoh may be worthy of a flier late on Saturday.
Mock drafts: Kaindoh is viewed at best as a fourth-rounder but could slip to the sixth or seventh round.
Height/weight: 6-3, 207
FSU stats: 118 receptions, 2,221 yards, 18 touchdowns
Scouting report: He can fly and run the go route. When Terry catches it, he’s off to the races and a good chunk of his 2,221 receiving yards came because he was able to get separation from a corner and haul in a long catch-and-run for a touchdown. He holds an FSU record with five TD receptions of 70+ yards. What’s missing from Terry’s game is film that shows he can run the full route tree as well as issues with drops. He enjoyed one of his best days on Oct. 10 at Notre Dame (nine catches, 146 yards, 1 TD) but had knee surgery at midseason and played in one game before opting out for the remainder of the season. NFL teams will love the frame and speed but they must be committed to being patient with his development.
Mock drafts: Terry is projected to be taken in the fourth, fifth or sixth rounds.