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Friday, Aug 17, 2018
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Auden Tate will be the third FSU receiver drafted in 11 years. Why so few?

When former Wharton High star Auden Tate hears his name called sometime next week, he'll join a surprisingly small group.

Recent Florida State receivers drafted into the NFL.

Over the past decade, only two Seminoles receivers have been drafted: Rashad Greene (fifth round, 2015) and Kelvin Benjamin (first round, 2014). That's well behind the nation's leader, Oklahoma (10), and rivals Clemson (six), Florida (six) and Miami (five). It's also half as many as Georgia Tech, which uses a run-heavy triple option offense.

"It's a little bit of an anomaly…" ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit said, pointing out some of the talent the Seminoles had with Jameis Winston. "You would assume they would have transitioned pretty well into the NFL. For whatever reason, we've not quite seen that."

The reason isn't location. The Seminoles' recruiting footprint is known for its skill players. The state produced three first-round receivers in 2015 alone (including Berkeley Prep's Nelson Agholor). Two local receivers (Tate and Tampa Bay Tech/Clemson product Deon Cain) are locks to get drafted next week. At least three others — Byron Pringle (Robinson High/Kansas State), Ray-Ray McCloud (Sickles/Clemson) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Lakewood High/USF) — could join them.

The reason doesn't seem to be talent, either. The Seminoles signed 17 blue-chip receivers from 2004-14, the recruiting classes that populated most of the last 10 drafts. Only Florida, Texas, LSU and Alabama signed more in that span.

Yet 50 schools had more receivers drafted from 2008-17 than FSU. Some are understandable, like LSU (nine) or USC (eight). Others are inexcusable, like Oregon State, Appalachian State and Kansas. Yes, Kansas.

RELATED: FSU's Auden Tate hoping NFL values skill more than sprints

Signing blue-chip talents like Tate (a four-star prospect in 2015) doesn't guarantee a slot in the NFL draft, but it helps. Five of the six receivers drafted from Clemson were four- or five-star prospects.

So if FSU's lack of drafted receivers hasn't been location or talent, there are only a few other options.

"At the end of the day, it comes down to recruiting…" Herbstreit said. "What fits for a college offense doesn't necessarily develop into a first-round pick."

That's true. Greene left as the ACC's all-time leading receiver (3,830) but was a fifth-round pick. Travis Rudolph's 2,311 career yards are eighth in school history; he wasn't drafted at all.

The Seminoles also hurt themselves with a high rate of attrition; seven of their 17 blue-chip left early because of academics (three), transfers (two) or off-field problems (two). An eighth, Marvin Bracy, stopped playing football to focus on track. Compare that miss rate to Cal, which signed seven blue-chip receivers from 2004-14 … and had five of them drafted (including the Bucs' DeSean Jackson).

The only other explanation is development: Either the coaches weren't grooming them well enough, the talented players weren't progressing enough, or some combination of the two. How else can you explain the fact that former coach Jimbo Fisher produced three first-round quarterbacks at FSU but only one first-round receiver?

Tate won't be picked that high, but the 6-foot-5, 225-pound athlete will be drafted somewhere, probably in rounds 3-5. Despite a nagging shoulder injury, he led the ACC with 10 touchdown catches as a junior (including one over likely top-20 pick Minkah Fitzpatrick from Alabama).

"I think he's another one of those big body playmakers that have come out of Florida State," NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks said. "He has a lot of potential."

And unlike some of FSU's other blue-chip receivers, he was able to turn that potential into a spot in the NFL draft.

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