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March 13, 2012
Preview: Bradham, Sanders headline FSU pro day
Wednesday will be the most important day in the pro futures for several former Seminoles. For others, FSU's annual Pro Day will provide an opportunity to enhance their status in the eyes of NFL coaches and scouts.
Starting at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, more than a dozen former Seminoles will take part in several performance and strength tests inside Doak Campbell Stadium. Pro Day will run for approximately four hours and conclude with position drills where each player will be evaluated individually within his designated position group.
Unlike the last two years, it's looking like FSU may not have a first round selection in the draft. However, a couple players - Zebrie Sanders and Nigel Bradham - have a good shot of being picked in the first few rounds.
Sanders, a four-year starter on FSU's offensive line, is the odds on favorite to be the first Seminole selected in April's NFL Draft. Some early projections had the 6-foot-5, 320-pound tackle falling late in the first round but a poor showing at this year's Senior Bowl, where he struggled against some elite defenisve end prospects, probably dropped him to the second or even third round.
A strong showing on Wednesday could give the former Eagle Scout a boost in the draft. While it's unlikely that the All-ACC tackle will to do enough to make himself a first round pick, he could solidify a spot early in the second round since starting tackles are coveted by the NFL.
Unlike Sanders, Bradham's draft stock has been on rise since the conclusion of his senior season. A three-year starter for FSU, Bradham displayed an improved ability in pass coverage at the Senior Bowl and followed that up with some impressive testing numbers at last month's NFL Scouting Combine. Those numbers included a top five finish for linebackers in the 40-yard dash (4.64) and vertical jump (37 inches).
Because he tested so well in Indianapolis, it's likely that Bradham, FSU's tackle leader for the past three seasons, will skip most of the performance tests administered at Pro Day. However, he is still expected to participate in the position drills run by NFL personnel at the end of Pro Day. At that time, Bradham could further reinforce his improved ability to keep up with backs and tight ends in pass coverage. Most draft gurus predict that Bradham will fall somewhere in the third round but after the combine there are some whispers that he could possibly work his way into being a late second round selection.
Another Seminole who could really help his cause on Wednesday is defensive back Mike Harris. The junior college transfer was a solid contributor in Mark Stoops' secondary the past two seasons and displayed a knack for making plays. Despite Harris' production on the field, his average size (5-10, 188) and below average testing numbers at the NFL Scouting Combine (4.68 40 yard dash) have probably dropped the Miami native into the back end of the draft.
Despite a fantastic college career that included leading the country in punting average and earning consensus All-America honors as a senior, it may be an uphill battle for Shawn Powell to get drafted. Traditionally, punters are rarely taken in the draft and those that are picked up show up in the late rounds. In fact, not a single punter was selected in the 2011 draft. However, given his exceptional abilities there is still a chance that Powell could be an exception to this general rule.
Whether or not Powell decides to take part in the testing phase of Pro Day, the scouts will be much more focused on how quickly he gets off punts, his hang time and distance during his individual workout. Those factors will weigh most heavily in the evaluation process.
Several other former players such as Ty Jones, Ja'Baris Little, Andrew Datko, Terrance Parks, Bert Reed, Beau Reliford and Jermaine Thomas are scheduled to take part in Pro Day. However, being picked up as a free agent is probably the best case scenario for these six former 'Noles. A solid performance on Wednesday, could really help the stock of players like Parks and Reed. Both have a decent chance of catching on as NFL free agents.
Expected FSU Participants
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