FSU has longest active streak of players taken in first 3 RDs of NFL Draft. It's 24 years & counting: bit.ly/HYAeGL— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) April 21, 2012
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Updated: 7:27 p.m. Friday, April 20, 2012
Posted: 4:05 p.m. Friday, April 20, 2012
Here's a little bit of draft trivia: What school has had a player selected in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft for 24 consecutive seasons, the longest active run?
Hint: If you're a Gator or Hurricane, you're not going to like the answer.
Florida State owns that streak and is expected to celebrate its silver anniversary next week when the NFL conducts its 2012 draft.
While the Seminoles are not expected to have anyone chosen in the first round Thursday, offensive tackle Zebrie Sanders and linebacker Nigel Bradham are both viewed as second-day possibilities, which would put them within the first three rounds.
According to Russ Lande, a former Cleveland Browns' scout now serving as the Sporting News' draft guru, Sanders and Bradham have been heading in opposite directions since the Seminoles ended their season in the Champs Sports Bowl in December.
Sanders, 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds, did not perform well at the Senior Bowl - he got whipped by North Carolina's Quinton Coples and South Carolina's Melvin Ingram - then wasn't particularly impressive at the NFL Combine.
"At the Senior Bowl, his technique was terrible," Lande said. "He was lunging, he was stepping the wrong way and he looked so unathletic. People were shocked. He was the talk of [NFL scouts] in terms of, 'What happened?'"
Toward the end of last season, there was talk that Sanders might go in the first round. He moved from right tackle to left tackle early in the season and performed very well there over FSU's final seven games.
Despite his recent missteps, Sanders is ranked by ESPN's Scout.Inc as the 74th best overall player in the draft and the eight-best offensive tackle.
"I would be satisfied to be drafted in general," Sanders said following FSU's Pro Day.
The only other FSU player certain to be drafted is Bradham, the 6-2, 241-pound hitting machine that was thrown out of the Miami game this season after knocking out receiver LaRon Byrd. Replays showed the hit to be legal.
Most projections have Bradham being drafted in the third- or fourth-round range. NFL.com's Gil Brandt ranks Bradham as the 93th-best prospect, five positions behind Sanders.
Lande said there are some holes in Bradham's game - he's not a great pass-rusher, for one - but there's more to like than not.
"He's an athletic kid who can run," Lande said.
The Seminoles have had only three players picked in each of the last two drafts. The best shot to match that total this year is with offensive tackle Andrew Datko, who started 40 games at left tackle but only four in 2011 after sustaining a shoulder injury.
Datko underwent surgery and wasn't 100 percent by the time the NFL Combine and FSU's Pro Day rolled around.
"If he passes physicals, he's a second-round talent," Lande said. "You can't just find 6-6, athletic offensive linemen. There's just not enough of those in the world."
Post freelance writer Bob Ferrante contributed to this report.
Who likely will get drafted
OT Zebrie Sanders (6-6, 320) ---- 3rd round ---- Bad Senior Bowl performance caused stock to drop.
LB Nigel Bradham (6-2, 241) --- 3rd-4th round --- Good speed, size and durability; started final 39 games at FSU.
OT Andrew Datko (6-6, 315) --- 5th-6th round --- A second-round talent who is a question because of a surgically-repaired shoulder.
CB Mike Harris (5-10, 188) --- 7th round --- Ranked as the 24th-best CB prospect by CBSSports.com.
Who likely won't get drafted
P Shaun Powell (6-4, 248) --- One of college football's best, but few punters are drafted.