The best late-round NFL Draft picks in FSU football history.

As the third and final day of the 2022 NFL Draft begins this afternoon, there are a few Florida State Seminoles hoping to get that long-awaited phone call and see their name appear on the ticker at the bottom of the television screen.

Running back Jashaun Corbin and defensive end Keir Thomas seem like the most likely candidates to get drafted today from FSU, but it’s possible another player sneaks inside the first seven rounds as well.

Either way, just because a player is selected in the final rounds, that doesn’t mean they have little chance for NFL success.

Throughout its storied history, Florida State has had a number of later-round draft picks go on to have terrific careers in pro football. Here’s a breakdown of FSU’s best “sleeper” picks in the modern era (since Bobby Bowden took over the program in 1976) of Florida State football.

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Probably the best example is quarterback Brad Johnson. He was Casey Weldon’s backup in 1991 and was drafted in the ninth round (back when they had that many) in the spring of 1992.

Not much was expected of the former Seminole signal-caller. So, all he did was go and play 15 years, win a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and make over $ 53 million in his career.

On that same Tampa team was fourth-round pick Dexter Jackson. He went on to play 10 years in the NFL and was named Super Bowl MVP when Tampa beat Oakland.

Other notable fourth-rounders from Florida State who went on to make major impacts at the next level were running back Devonta Freeman (just played his eighth season, was named to two Pro Bowls with the Falcons), linebacker Nigel Bradham (played nine years and had two with over 100 tackles), running back Edgar Bennett (seven seasons, Super Bowl champ, 1,000-yard rusher), running back Leon Washington (nine years, two Pro Bowls as a kick returner) and defensive end Josh Sweat, who was just named to the 2021 Pro Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles.

All of these aforementioned players greatly out-performed their draft-day expectations. And Washington, who twice led the NFL in kick return touchdowns, became one of the best return specialists in NFL history.

As the draft gets deeper into rounds, however, it becomes harder and harder to even make a team. Much less start. Or star.

But that’s exactly what a former Seminole lineman did way back in 1981.

Ken Lanier was one of the first great offensive linemen of the Bobby Bowden Era. Yet when the 1981 NFL Draft came around, his name wasn’t called until the fifth round.

He has gone down as one of the best fifth-round values ​​in NFL history.

Lanier played 14 seasons for the Denver Broncos, made 167 starts and played in four Super Bowls. And there were a slew of offensive linemen picked ahead of him that year.

Another Florida State fifth-rounder who wildly out-played expectations in the NFL was defensive lineman Letroy Guion, who wound up playing nine full years after being drafted by the Vikings in 2008.

The two Seminoles who had the best careers after being drafted in the sixth round were taken in the same year, 2013 – 29 selections apart.

Place-kicker Dustin Hopkins was drafted early in the sixth round and linebacker Vince Williams was taken at the back end. Hopkins is still in the league, having finished the 2021 season with the Chargers. He has scored 752 points in his career.

And Williams, who retired abruptly before the 2021 season, played in Pittsburgh for eight seasons, registering 479 tackles and 50 tackles for loss as a starter for the Steelers.

Running back Marion Butts, who was mainly a fullback during his time at FSU, was drafted in the seventh round by the Chargers in 1989. He wound up playing seven years, rushing for over 1,000 yards twice and making two Pro Bowls as San Diego’s featured back in the early 1990s.

Fellow seventh-rounder Bobby Hart just completed his seventh season in the NFL.

And to finish off this look back at Florida State sleeper draft picks, here are two guys who wouldn’t have been selected at all if their drafts only went seven rounds like today’s does.

Martin Mayhew was a 10th-round pick of Washington in 1988. He went on to play eight seasons, making 107 starts and intercepting 21 passes during his career. He also won the 1991 Super Bowl with Washington. He’s now the general manager of the Commanders.

And then there was Jesse Solomon. The hard-hitting linebacker lasted all the way until the 12th round of the 1986 draft before he was taken by the Minnesota Vikings.

He wound up playing over a decade in the NFL, racking up 804 career tackles, including five seasons with over 100.

None of these examples, of course, mean that whichever Florida State Seminole gets drafted today will have a long, storied career in the NFL.

But there are enough examples to know it’s not out of the realm of possibility either.

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