Florida State Senior Scouting
I have a bit of a checkered history with the Florida State Seminoles. Their online community wasn't too embracing when I had nearly a dozen running backs ranked ahead of Dalvin Cook heading into January of 2017. Despite facing off against hundreds of angry #FSUTwitter folks, I survived.
You know who didn't survive though? The 2018 Florida State Seminoles. A team with 36 straight bowl game appearances that had their streak SNAPPED.
Smell that #FSUTwitter? Smells like being below .500 doesn't it? Anyways, let's move on from personal vendettas and talk about the talent in the senior group for the Seminoles.
The clear cut top guy out of the seniors is cornerback/safety Levonta Taylor, who was at one point being considered the top cornerback for the 2019 draft class. Things changed around quickly after an injured Taylor was beaten up on by the many big wideouts in the ACC. It started with a tough matchup in the season opener against Virginia Tech, and then things just continued to go downhill from there.
Deondre Francois would've been an interesting mention, but he's going to have to wait his turn for the Florida Atlantic article after having walked-on to play for Lane Kiffin. There are a couple underclassmen that peaked my interest while studying the team, but I'm going to hold off on formulating opinions on RB Cam Akers and DT Marvin Wilson until a later date.
Prospects are ranked from best tape grade to worst tape grade.
Levonta Taylor Cornerback
Size is a negative aspect that might be tough to overcome. Moving to safety for his senior season, although his specific usage is still an unknown. Uses his hands as a nuisance to the receiver, and he helps to control their path with it. Flashes the foot quickness to mirror guys step for step. Balance is impressive during his backpedal considering how much depth he can get without sacrificing control. Bigger guys are able to just wall him off at the catch point when working to the inside. Doesn’t bring much energy when it comes to playing the run game.
Was dealing with an injury throughout the season that hindered his performance. Seemed a tick slow when it came to deep speed, and required some help over the top where most pro corners don’t. Head is late to get around and play the ball. Smooth flipping his hips; natural athleticism flashes on tape. Experienced in a variety of coverages. General disinterest in gang tackling situations is disappointing. Likes to hop off of the snap instead of start the backpedal with ease, and it puts him into a positional hole. Click and close ability doesn’t live up to expectations. 6th Round Summer Grade.
Keith Gavin Wide Receiver
Listed at 6’3” but doesn’t seem to have a catch radius that matches up. Puts his body weight into blocking and delivers a strong punch. Has experience as both an outside receiver and a big slot. Routes aren’t particularly crisp, but he moves at a good rate of speed. Stop/start does draw some concerns when running curls and comebacks. Doesn’t have much diversity in his releases. Not much energy on routes where he isn’t guaranteed the ball. Punch is well-timed and doesn’t come out before the block is possible.
Drives his legs and stays active with his man. Speed might not be enough to eat up cushion against pro corners. Frames his target well when operating as a lead blocker. Hands seem to be reliable enough. Was run down from behind by linebacker Strnad in a foot race to the end zone. Size might be deceiving because of how well-proportioned he is. Movements through zone coverage aren’t smooth. Quick to get back in gear if he misses a block. May be able to latch on for special teams. UDFA Summer Grade.
Cole Minshew Offensive Guard
Listed at 6’5” and 330 pounds, although he looks somewhat smaller than that. Has the mauler body type though, and will end up doing his best work in the phone booth. Unprepared for counter moves and reacts late. Has the strength to hold up in pass protection, assuming his leverage is fine. Not going to be an effective mover in space. Block holder rather than a lane opener.
Doesn’t drive through the target and force them off the point. Combo blocks take a bit to long to develop. Arm length is average and puts him at a disadvantage in too many matchups. Lateral agility is below thresholds. UDFA Summer Grade.
Alex Hornibrook Quarterback
Inconsiderate of linebackers sitting underneath on throwing lanes. Lefty. Average arm strength could be a concern. Doesn’t throw passes that cut through the air. Usually a one and done decision-maker who can’t get beyond his first read. Brass balls both help and hurt him; attacks windows that are tough to hit. Turns into a runner when the pocket collapses. Movements in the pocket are robotic. Accuracy is an absolute mess. Struggles outside of the pocket. Flashes of leading his target. UDFA Summer Grade.
Dontavious Jackson Linebacker
Built with good thickness even though he is only listed at 6’2” and 235 pounds. Comes downhill with some snap and takes on blocks. Doesn’t have a desirable tackle radius, and he’s going to come up short on some plays that should be guaranteed finishes. Not a sideline to sideline mover, and he’ll likely be relegated to working zone coverage in the pros. Has good enough size and play strength to take on linemen and not get run over. Form and accuracy as a tackler is a concern. Takes a moment to get back in gear and start running towards the far side of the field.
Questionable balance; ends up on the ground on too many plays. Relaxed in coverage, and he doesn’t act aggressive enough in dealing with his zone. Able to be a drag-down tackler if he gets his hands comfortably onto the runner. Closing speed as a blitzer isn’t anything impressive. Doesn’t react quick enough to the start of quarterback’s throwing motion. Not able to navigate cleanly through traffic. Active hands in run defense. UDFA Summer Grade.
The strength of this Florida State team is certainly the underclassman group, and there are even some deep sleepers such as the massive safety Hamsah Nasirildeen. Taylor could return to full health and return to his former glory, but it might be tougher to do that with the positional change.
The move to safety is one of the more baffling things I've seen this summer, as he's so undersized even as a corner. I don't know if he will be impactful enough as a run defender to warrant major snaps in that role, but they may simply be using him as a nickel guy and labeling him a safety. That's going to be one of the most intriguing storylines in the ACC heading towards the 2020 draft.
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