KERMIT WHITFIELD, WR FLORIDA STATE 5’8″, 180 pounds
Kermit Whitfield is set to sign a free-agent deal with the Chicago Bears after going undrafted in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Levonte “Kermit” Whitfield was one of the lesser known Seminoles on the national stage compared to some of his offensive contemporaries, but don’t let that fool you into thinking he doesn’t deserve a spot in the pros. Seldom used as a receiver in his first two seasons with the Seminoles, Whitfield caught 57 passes for 798 yards and six touchdowns in 2015; his numbers slipped in 2016 to 34 catches for 395 yards and a lone touchdown, but his presence was still felt as a do-it-all type of offensive weapon.
If there’s one thing Whitfield is best known for, it’s his versatility. From going out for a pass one play to taking a reverse on the next, Whitfield will remind many football fans of former New York Jets star Brad Smith. Whitfield has the speed to do it all, but the Bears may want to stay away from him as a full-time receiver until he can work on his route running. It’s a good thing, then, that Kermit has experience as a kick returner. Whitfield may be too small for a full-time NFL role right now, though he certainly is a unique player.
NFL Combine results:
4.44 40-yard dash
8 reps in the bench press
32.5-inch vertical jump
120-inch broad jump
7.17 seconds in the three-cone drill
4.37 seconds in the 20-yard shuffle.
The expert says:
“A good route runner who will need to develop the entire tree. Excellent feet to make the sudden transition. A situational type receiver who improved in the mental part of the game day-to-day. Kickoff and punt return explosiveness.” — Ourlads.com
FREDDIE STEVENSON, FB FLORIDA STATE 6’0″, 234 pounds
Freddie Stevenson will sign a free-agent deal with the Chicago Bears after going unselected in the 2017 NFL Draft.
A one-time four-star recruit as a linebacker, Freddie Stevenson was one of the main blockers for Dalvin Cook’s record-setting seasons at Florida State. Now joining the Bears, it will be interesting to see whether Stevenson will remain at fullback or, potentially, get snaps at an NFL training camp as a linebacker.
Stevenson can block well and was a vital piece of Florida State’s rushing game. Last year, the Seminoles had Stevenson rush the ball more than he had in the past, making him an interesting option as a blocker and a rusher. Using Stevenson in the passing game, however, may not be the right choice yet as he needs more catching reps.
4.75 40-yard dash
24 reps on the bench press
28-inch vertical jump
111-inch broad jump
7.65 seconds in the three-cone drill
4.45 seconds in the 20-yard shuffle.
The expert says:
“Stevenson possesses an aggressive field demeanor and a good radar to land strikes in space. He lacks third-down value, but can grind it out as a short-yardage ball carrier. There will be a very limited amount of teams interested in a fullback this season, but Stevenson has enough ability to make a roster if he gets a shot.” — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com
With ESPN cameras in his West Palm Beach home ready to capture what would have been the crowning achievement of his athletic career, Travis Rudolph sat through nearly seven hours of the NFL Draft on Saturday without hearing his name called.
The former Cardinal Newman and Florida State star who left the Seminoles after his junior season to enter the draft, was projected to be selected in the fifth or sixth round. But he watched as 32 other receivers were taken over the course of three days and seven rounds.
Following the draft, the 6-foot, 189-pound Rudolph agreed to a free-agent deal with the New York Giants. Rudolph’s agent, Jonathan Herbst, confirmed the deal in an email to The Post.
Cameras caught Rudolph surrounded by family and friends throughout the day, one of those being BoPaske, the autistic student who Rudolph joined last summer during a visit to his middle school while Paske was dining alone. That act gained national attention for both Rudolph and Bo and earned Rudolph widespread praise.
Rudolph was watching the draft with a heavy heart. His father, Darryl Rudolph, was killed April 21 while doing handyman work in the backroom of a West Palm Beach club. Darryl, 55, was struck in the back/neck area by a gunshot from an adjacent room that penetrated the wall, according to authorities. The gun, identified as an AK-47 style rifle, discharged when a coworker was moving the firearm off a shelf, according to a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office report.
Rudolph concluded his career at Florida State seventh in school history with 153 receptions and eighth with 2,311 receiving yards after leading the Seminoles with 56 catches, 840 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns last season.
He was ranked from the 27th to 37th best receiver in the draft by draft experts. Just six receivers were taken in the first two rounds before a run started with 20 coming off the board in rounds 3 through 5. Then after a lull in round 6 (one was taken), five more heard their names called in the final round, including Isaiah Ford of Virginia Tech, who went to the Dolphins with the 238 overall pick.
The knock on Rudolph is his speed and quickness. He ran a 4.65 40 yard dash at the NFL combine. Just four of the 51 receivers who ran the 40 had a slower time.
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher believes too much emphasis was put on the stop watch and not his production.
“He can run the route tree, he has good size,” Fisher said prior to the draft. “He’s not a blazer but he’s fast. And if you watch he makes big plays.”
Despite misgivings some had about Rudolph entering the draft a year early, he told The Post in March that he had received good feedback from NFL representatives.
“Basically teams evaluate ‘How do you learn?’ ‘Are you a route-runner?’ ‘Are you disciplined in your route running?’ ‘Do you turn your head or do you keep your eyes on the ball when you’re catching it?’” Rudolph said. “Little stuff like that.”
Rudolph, who trained in West Palm Beach and Tallahassee leading up to the draft, added: “I’ve been taking it in daily. That’s my childhood dream to make it to the NFL.”
That dream is not over. But after not hearing his named called this weekend, the path to reaching his dream will have to begin in a different way than the one he had hoped.
Marquez White was the 33rd pick in the sixth round of the 2017 NFL Draft (No. 216 overall) by the Dallas Cowboys.
Once a basketball player with the Seminoles, Marquez White made the decision during his freshman season to focus solely on football and worked his way up from special-teams player to starter on Florida State’s defense. An important special-teamer during the team’s 2013 run to a national championship, White will go from Tallahasee to Dallas and look to climb the depth chart in a similar fashion.
White displays great awareness in coverage that leads to quick reads off the ball and has a smart mind for the game. Having worked his way up from the bottom of the depth chart in the past, White shouldn’t struggle with the mental transition of going from collegiate starter to pro backup. White does struggle occasionally to make plays on the ball and whiffs on tackles — and he also doesn’t rush at players and seems to be content with letting the action come to him. At this time, White may not be fast enough to succeed at the professional level and is currently too raw a prospect to go too far beyond the practice squad.
“Finesse cornerback with limited ball skills and production as two-year starter. Coverage stats from junior season garnered attention, but his 2016 tape was average, with marginal instincts and coverage inconsistencies from press. Length is a plus and he does have talent, but he needs technique work to iron out some issues.” — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com
RODERICK JOHNSON, OT FLORIDA STATE 6’7″, 298 pounds
Roderick Johnson was the 16th pick in the fifth round (No. 160 overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns.
In what has been commonly called a weak offensive-line class, Florida State’s Roderick Johnson has a chance to break through as one of the better blockers. The two-time Jacobs Trophy winner for the best offensive lineman in the ACC, Johnson raised eyebrows by declaring for the draft after his junior season, but has shown enough in the past for Browns fans to be optimistic about their team’s newest tackle. With that said, however, it may be best for the Florissant, Missouri, product to spend a year on the bench sitting and learning.
Johnson has the size of a true offensive lineman — not heavy, but built on strength and muscle. The 6-foot-7 tackle displays excellent awareness and vision and played a key role in running back Dalvin Cook producing record numbers for the Seminoles. With great wingspan as a blocker and a high motor, Johnson should appeal to coaches so long as he can work on his pass-blocking and calmness. Johnson will too often panic when things don’t go his way. If he can get the proper time to mature and learn from the pros, Johnson should be a capable starter within two or three seasons.
NFL Combine results:
The expert says:
“Despite his balance inconsistencies, Johnson can be a powerful run blocker when he gets defenders framed up. Teams will have to decide if they want to play him on the left or right side, but an offensive line coach will need to try and correct issues with his pass sets and his footwork before he gets his shot.” — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com
DEMARCUS WALKER FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY 6’4″, 280 pounds, DE
DeMarcus Walker of Florida State was the 19th pick in the 2nd round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos.
The offensive legends get much of the attention in Tallahassee, but DeMarcus Walker was something special for the Seminoles over the past four seasons. Switching to Florida State from Alabama, the Jacksonville native combined for 20.5 sacks and 37 total tackles for loss over the past two seasons. With 16 sacks this past season, Walker was named to both the All-American and All-ACC first teams as he helped the Seminoles to an Orange Bowl victory. Though Walker doesn’t have the flash and allure of a Myles Garrett or Derek Barnett, the Broncos may have found themselves an edge rusher of the future by landing the former ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
Walker is dominant in the trenches, both against the run and rushing the passer. The defensive end can certainly lay a big hit when he needs to, and his durability and ability to stay on the field when his team needs him the most should serve him well as a pro. Walker has the ability to make an impact in the passing game not only with sacks, but with batting balls down.
However, Walker needs to to improve on his tackling and stamina. Some will be turned off by Walker’s below-average to average speed, which isn’t ideal in a time of dual-threat quarterbacks. And while Walker can make plays, he’s not at the point where he should be feared. To succeed in the NFL, Walker will need to prove that he’s the player who recorded 25 sacks over the past two seasons and not the one who only had two in his first two seasons.
NFL Combine results:
18 reps on bench press Did not participate in other drills.
The expert says:
“Walker was a pass-rushing force at the point of attack. For the NFL, his body type would fit best as a 3-4 outside linebacker, and he might want to trim down some weight for that role. A lot of his best pass-rushing came from the inside at tackle in obvious passing situations, so he could be a designated pass-rusher in a 4-3 defense as well.” — Charlie Campbell, WalterFootball.com
Dalvin Cook was the ninth pick in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings.
As one of the top running backs in this year’s draft class, saying that Dalvin Cook is something special would be an understatement. Some have compared Cook to former Miami Hurricanes running back Edgerrin James and between the explosive speed and playmaking abilities, it’s hard to find any sort of argument against that. The all-time leader in rushing yards for the Seminoles, Cook will make Vikings fans proud once he begins his first practice in Minnesota … so long as he stays out of trouble, that is.
Well, he’s fast. Cook has blazing speed that makes him a threat both on the ground and through the air. There’s also the beautiful juking ability that will break plenty of ankles. Cook displays excellent vision on the ground and will almost immediately break away once he hits the outside. Unfortunately, Cook can be too reliant on rushing to the outside and will very rarely run the ball up the gut.
There are also previous character issues that include two arrests while in high school (one of which was firing and possessing a weapon on school property) and a third in 2015. Cook also struggles with fumbling on occasion and there are concerns about the durability of his shoulder after rotator-cuff surgery. If Cook wants to succeed in the pros, even with his love of football, he’ll need to improve on his blocking, especially on short-yardage situations.
NFL Combine results:
4.49 40 yard dash
22 reps in the bench press
30.5 inch vertical jump
116 inch broad jump
7.27 in the three-cone drill
4.43 20-yard shuffle
The expert says:
“Cook’s big-play ability makes him a special player. When given a hole, he can take it to the house, and even when his blocking isn’t good, he has the ability to maximize what is there. Cook’s fumbling problems, like his hamstring, flare up too frequently, so there are some concerns. Despite those issues, Cook’s name will still be called early because of his prodigious potential.” — Pro Football Focus
“Just great family,” Fisher said today, hours before he was leaving to attend Thursday’s NFL draft in Philadelphia.
“Parents … mom, dad were involved in their kid’s life. They were at everything he did. They supported him. Just a typical, loving, close, very hard-working, blue-collar, just really good family. Raised him tremendously well. A lot of respect from him to them and them to him.
“Their kids were the focal point of their life.”
Darryl Rudolph was killed late Friday while doing handyman work in the backroom of Sugar Daddy’s Adult Cabaret in West Palm Beach. The incident occurred one week before Travis is expected to be selected in the NFL draft. Travis, who was raised in West Palm Beach and starred at Cardinal Newman High School, decided to skip his senior year at FSU and enter the draft after being the Noles’ most productive receiver over the last three years.
Darryl, 55, was struck in the back/neck area by a gunshot from an adjacent room that penetrated the wall. The gun, which law enforcement sources told The Post was a rifle, discharged when a coworker was moving the firearm off a shelf. Darryl was not a full-time employee of the club but was hired occasionally to do handyman jobs.
Fisher was with Travis at an on-campus event in the Champions Club on Friday hours before the incident. Travis had left Tallahassee when Fisher attempted to contact him.
“At first you didn’t believe it,” said Fisher, who has spoken with Travis’ mom, Linda. “It was shock. Travis is ready to fulfill his dream (of being drafted). His dad is getting to watch him do it. I had to just sit down for a minute and say ‘Oh my God.’
“Then my thoughts went to him and his wife and everything else, Travis and the family.”
Fisher, who spent time in the Rudolph home when recruiting Travis, said the university is ready to support Travis in any way necessary.
“He’s part of our family and we’ll do everything we can to help,” Fisher said. “Travis is going to have a great career. He’s going to come back and finish his degree. Anything we can humanly do to help them and the family get through a tough time … anything they want us to do and anything we can do.”
Fisher says he is “heartbroken” not only by Darry’s death but the timing. Travis, 21, concludes his career seventh in school history with 153 receptions and eighth with 2,311 receiving yards after leading the Seminoles with 56 catches, 840 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns last season.
“He can run the route tree, he has good size,” Fisher said. “He’s not a blazer, but he’s fast. And if you watch, he makes big plays.
“You go back and watch our film, there’s a lot of long touchdown throws and catches and runs after (the catch). Like he did against Florida this year. There’s a lot of plays like that.”
Travis scored on a 46-yard catch-and-run from Deondre Francois that gave FSU a 17-6 lead over the Gators, the 18th and final touchdown reception of his career. The Seminoles went on to a 31-13 victory.
Fisher also praised Travis’ downfield blocking skills and his intelligence.
“He’s a very multi-talented receiver because he can go in and out to catch the ball,” Fisher said. “He’s just a really good athlete and he understands. Travis is really smart.”
Rudolph’s agents sent an email to all NFL teams saying that, despite the tragedy, Rudolph remained intent on pursuing his pro football aspirations.