October is the best month in sports. With the NFL, UFC, and MLB playoffs on this weekend, I wanted to focus on just one game this week. Miami and Florida State is a great ACC rivalry that comes with intense recruiting ties. Both teams battle not just on the field but also in the living room as Florida is one of the best places to recruit.
Miami won the game 24-20 on a late 4th quarter touchdown to capture the win. In this column, it was the defenses that really stood out. Which players in this heated rivalry boosted their draft stock heading into the 2018 NFL Draft?
Miami Vs. Florida State
Miami won the game but got some bad news about their star running back. Mark Walton will miss the season because of an ankle injury. The problem is he didn’t have much success before the game. Walton went for 12 carries and 25 yards. Miami ran the ball 29 times for just 2.9 yards per carry. That stat line speaks more to how great the Florida State defense is. Walton was one of the more higher rated running backs prior to this game.
Miami’s best defender on the field was Jaquan Johnson. The safety was all over the field notching 12 tackles. Johnson is a rangy safety at 5-foot-11, 190, with plus movement skills. At this point, he’s probably worth a look in the later rounds.
Florida State should have won this game if it weren’t for anemic quarterback play. More important for Florida State, it was Cam Akers coming out party. Akers was the number one running back recruit this year. While he’s not draft eligible for three years, it will likely make Jacques Patrick opt for the draft this year. Patrick is darn good in his own right rushing for 91 yards on 11 carries. Patrick is a big back at 6-foot-3, 231, and will make a great inside the tackles runner. He isn’t on Dalvin Cook’s level talent wise but still will get drafted in the middle rounds.
Over the years, Florida State has been known to covet freakishly tall athletes at the receiver position under Jimbo Fisher. Auden Tate fits this year’s mold of Kelvin Benjamin. Tate is a pretty good athlete for his size just like Benjamin was (6-foot-5, 230). Tate probably figures to fall in that 2nd round range. With any bigger receiver, his speed will be something to monitor at the combine. Here’s Tate’s touchdown against Miami.
Finally, Florida State has a bevy of NFL defenders, so let’s run through them quickly. The Seminoles play great team defense first and foremost. Derwin James, the safety, is responsible for covering up those mistakes in the back end. They pitched a shutout in the first half before they had to play a doubleheader in the second half with their offense never controlling time of possession. Matthew Thomas is the premier linebacker on the team to watch moving forward as well.
The Florida State pass rush has a number of players with extreme talent. Two of which will likely be bound for a high draft pick in 2018, Derrick Nnadi and Josh Sweat. Nnadi plays defensive tackle for Florida State but is very scheme versatile. Nnadi showed off his interior pass rush recording .5 a sack. Nnadi plays with great pad level and forces double teams. All you have to do is go watch the game. Miami had zero room to run the football inside the tackles. When it comes to Sweat, this one is easy. It’s his first step quickness that jumps off the screen. Watch him win against the right tackle with pure speed.
It wasn’t all good for Florida State as Tarvarus McFadden had a bit of a rough game. He not only gave up the game-winning touchdown………
McFadden was also beat on more than one occasion by Ahmmon Richards, a superstar Sophomore receiver. Part of the problem, in my opinion, was the fact that Florida State was playing so much zone coverage. That is not at all what best suits McFadden. The Florida State corner fits the new era of long corners who in press coverage. It’s going to be interesting to watch his play moving forward because if there’s one trait that’s rare, McFadden has it. There may not be a better corner in the entire draft class that has better ball production. He won in that category deflecting two passes, both in press coverage.