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FSU Pro Day preview: Opportunity for Thomas, Love-Taylor

Pro teams already have had a chance to meet and watch Jermaine Johnson and Jashaun Corbin participate in the NFL Combine. That’s what makes Florida State’s Pro Day on Tuesday a great opportunity for potential late-round draft picks like defensive lineman Keir Thomas and offensive lineman Devontay Love-Taylor.

Thomas had 42 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in what was his best college season following a transfer from South Carolina. The 6-foot-2, 272-pound Thomas offers some versatility, too, as he’s often lined up at defensive end but also slid inside to tackle in various situations.

“I was a little upset … But it didn’t stop anything,” Thomas said. “It gave me a little bit more motivation. It is what it is happens every year. I feel like it’s a big day for me. I know I got to test well. I know that’s what a lot of teams want to see — how well I’m going to test.”

Thomas said he felt he put plenty of film out there for NFL talent evaluators, but that’s what this pre-draft process is all about: General managers and scouts want to see prospects run, bench and go through drills under the guidance of NFL teams.

Love-Taylor battled injuries in each season at FSU but showed his versatility, starting at right tackle, right guard and left tackle in 2020 as well as nine games at right guard in 2021. Listed at 6-foot-4 and 323 pounds, Love-Taylor said he has dropped 15 pounds and is in good shape for Tuesday. Love-Taylor has a chance to show he can play multiple offensive line positions, which helps given the NFL’s smaller 53-man rosters.

“Just being one guy that could play up to five positions will help a lot,” Love-Taylor said. “The best ability is availability, so being able to play many different positions, if they’re choosing between me and a guy who can only play tackle or a guy who can only play center, I think I’ll have the upper leg.”

Johnson limiting workout at Pro Day

Defensive end Jermaine Johnson strengthened his draft stock at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine, and he is opting to just do the bench press at Tuesday’s Pro Day. Johnson worked out with the linebackers at the combine and, regardless of whether he plays for a team that has a 4-3 or 3-4 defensive front, called himself the best edge player in the 2022 NFL draft.

“Being able to go there (to the combine) and experience that is a blessing,” Johnson said. “It was a long week, but it was fun and I got to be around some of the best guys in my class to do it so it’s just awesome to be around that environment and be in the NFL and talking to all these teams. It’s something you dream of, so it was an awesome experience. I took a ton from it.”

NFL scouts hold Johnson in high regard, and he’s viewed as a potential top-10 or top-15 pick by draft analysts like Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network and Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN.

“He’s strong, he’s got power, he’s got speed off the edge,” Kiper Jr. said. “He’s got bend off the corner. You can see him creeping up a little bit from 15 into maybe just at 10 or just inside the top 10.”

Corbin views himself as versatile back

Jashaun Corbin made a big leap forward in 2021, putting a long recovery from a torn hamstring behind him behind him and rushing for 887 yards and seven touchdowns as well as 25 receptions for 144 yards and a touchdown. He graduated in December and opted to make the jump early for the NFL.

Corbin said the NFL Combine experience was a blur, waking up as early as 5:30 a.m. some days and holding meetings with teams or going through medical tests until 11 p.m. on a few nights. In Corbin’s view, the response to him from NFL teams has been positive.

“They think I’m a guy who does everything well, just a well-rounded player, a well-rounded guy as far as my character,” Corbin said. “Explosiveness, can score from anywhere, has great hands, which keeps you on the field at the next level.”

Corbin said he will run the 40-yard dash, shuttle run and other agility drills at Pro Day.

Changing the culture at FSU

One of the more intriguing responses to a question came from Love-Taylor, who has seen off-field growth in players and improved leadership since he arrived roughly a month after coach Mike Norvell was hired.

“The culture from when I got here in January 2020 and left last December (2021) was night and day,” Love-Taylor said. “The buy-in over time, you just see it, you feel it in the locker room. Guys go from showing up late to checking guys for not being 15 minutes early. Just stuff like that. It’s those little things you see happening over a period of time. And the culture now, just walking around the guys here, how they talk about each other, it’s growing every day. I felt like we left it way better than we found it.”

Pro day participants

Beyond Johnson, Thomas, Love-Taylor and Corbin, McKenzie Milton, Andrew Parchment, Emmett Rice, Jordan Wilson, DeCalon Brooks and Meiko Dotson are expected to participate in drills at FSU’s indoor practice facility on Tuesday morning. Milton also plans to participate in pro day workouts at UCF.

“I have full clearance from my doctors up at Mayo which is the best hospital in the world,” Milton said. “I’m not concerned about my knee. I feel great. It’s the best I’ve felt since I got hurt. I’m running well, I’m moving well, I’m throwing the ball well. I wouldn’t be doing Pro Day if I didn’t feel I could go.”

There is no live stream of the event but ACC Network Extra will broadcast highlights on Tuesday at 3 p.m.