2014 BCS National Championship Game Prospect Preview: Florida State vs. Auburn

Lamarcus Joyner has the talent to overcome his lack of size at the next level. (Photo: Charles LeClaire — USA Today Sports)

Lamarcus Joyner, CB, Florida State, Sr. (5’8”, 190 lbs)

Lamarcus Joyner’s lack of size is likely to hurt his draft stock, but he possesses a similar skill set and measurables to former LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, who thrived in his rookie season with the Arizona Cardinals in a hybrid free safety/nickel slot cornerback role.

Joyner, who has seen significant playing time at both safety and cornerback and with covering both inside and outside, could fill a similar role on an NFL defense. While he might lack the size to cover outside receivers at the next level, he is a versatile player who can impact the game in every phase from coverage to blitzing to run support.

With explosive acceleration and good short-area quickness, Joyner is a very good athlete. He has the speed to stay with receivers deep downfield, the quickness to break with receivers on shorter routes and the playmaking range to be a center-fielder as a coverage safety.

Joyner has been used frequently as a blitzer at FSU and has been effective bringing pressure into the backfield in that capacity. Meanwhile, he has very good instincts in run support and though he could become a better form tackler, he does a good job of filling running lanes and taking even bigger receivers down.

A playmaker in the secondary, Joyner has very good ball skills and the ability to quickly hustle his way into plays. He is physical despite his lack of size, and though he is best when the play is in front of him, he can also change direction and backpedal effectively.

Joyner has the talent to overcome his size deficiency and should be a valuable role player for an NFL secondary. He is a likely Day 2 draft selection.

Telvin Smith, OLB, Florida State, Sr. (6’3”, 218 lbs)

Like Joyner, Telvin Smith is significantly undersized for the position he plays, but he makes up for his lack of size with a very good all-around skill set.

Though he does not have the downfield coverage skills to play safety, he has the athleticism of a safety. He has the range to make plays all over the field and is very good in pursuit. He has an explosive acceleratory burst that makes him a dangerous blitzer.

One big way Smith makes up for his lack of his size is with his instincts. He does a very good of reading the directions of plays then aligning himself properly. He is a hard hitter and sound tackler, and though he can often be enveloped by offensive linemen considering their size advantage, he does a good job of fighting to hold his ground and stay in position to make a play.

Smith’s measurables might limit him to playing weakside linebacker on an NFL defense, but he has the skill set to potentially excel in that position. He has very good short-area quickness and good ball skills in coverage. He might have issues with teams running the ball straight at him, but if he can add some bulk in an NFL conditioning program, he has a shot to emerge as a three-down linebacker in the right scheme.

Smith should be a mid-round draft selection.

Christian Jones, OLB, Florida State, Sr. (6’4”, 235 lbs)

Telvin Smith has been Florida State’s best linebacker this season, but Christian Jones might end up being the higher draft pick. An impressive athlete with prototypical measurables for an NFL outside linebacker, Jones has the upside to be a great player but is still getting there in terms of on-field play.

Jones is a versatile player for Florida State’s defense who does everything from rushing the passer as a defensive end to dropping back 10 yards or more in coverage as a linebacker, while he covers a lot of ground with his speed and change-of-direction quickness as a run defender.

While Jones has the potential to be good in many areas, he is not particularly great in any area. He is a solid tackler when he is in position, but he lacks strength and gets driven away from running plays too often by blockers, while his angles to the football are also inconsistent. He is better in pass coverage than he is as a rusher, but he does not make many plays on the ball in the air.

Jones has the potential to be a very valuable piece for an NFL defense, as he could be used at multiple linebacker spots in any defensive scheme, but his game is still very much in its developmental stages, as he needs to become stronger, develop better instincts and find a niche to excel in.

Timmy Jernigan moves well for a defensive tackle. (Photo: Melina Vastola — USA Today Sports)

Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State, Jr. (6’2”, 292 lbs)

The Seminoles have NFL prospects at all three levels of their defense, with the best on the defensive line, at least for 2014, being junior defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan should he declare for the upcoming NFL draft.

Jernigan is undersized for a defensive tackle, but he has good functional strength and holds his ground well at the line of scrimmage. He is an active defensive lineman at the line of scrimmage who uses his hands well and has often occupied double teams.

Jernigan has very natural movement skills for a defensive tackle, and he is a sound tackler both at the line of scrimmage and in space. He is good in pursuit as a run defender and shows unusual ability for a defensive tackle to cover ground well downfield.

That said, Jernigan is not much of a pass-rusher or penetrator. While he can occasionally beat blockers with his swim move or other pass-rush moves, he does not have an explosive burst and is an effective bull-rusher.

Jernigan is a solid defensive tackle with the potential to be a starter as an active run defender who holds his ground well, can make plays in space and has good balance. His limited ability to make plays in the backfield hurts his draft stock, but he should still be a solid Day 2 draft choice if he declares.

Terrence Brooks, S, Florida State, Sr. (5’11”, 200 lbs)

Terrence Brooks does not get as much attention as many of his other senior teammates, but in a class that is far from loaded with safety talent, he can end up being an early-round selection in his own right.

Brooks is a well-rounded safety who has played both safety positions at Florida State. He is a good center-fielder in coverage who is often used as a single-high safety on FSU’s defense, but he is also a strong tackler who makes plays in the box in run support and can be an effective blitzer to make plays in the backfield.

Brooks demonstrates good range on the back end. He is very good at making plays on the ball in the air, while he is a strong clean-up tackler who hits and takes ballcarriers down to the ground with authority.

Brooks does not wow with his measurables, but he has the all-around game to compete for an NFL starting safety job right off the bat. He is a likely third- or fourth-round draft choice.

See page 3 for breakdowns of Auburn’s top prospects.

Continue to Page: 1 2 3

Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, Auburn, BCS National Championship Game, Bowl Games, Bowl Previews, Bryan Stork, Cameron Erving, Chris Davis, Christian Jones, Dee Ford, Devonta Freeman, Florida State, Game Preview, Greg Robinson, Kelvin Benjamin, Lamarcus Joyner, NFL Draft, Prospect Previews, Rashad Greene, Telvin Smith, Terrence Brooks, Timmy Jernigan, Tre Mason

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