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FSU linebackers prepared for pro level

Posted Apr 22, 2014

Florida State linebackers Telvin Smith (left) and Christian Jones.

It isn't obvious where former Florida State linebackers Telvin Smith and Christian Jones will line up in the NFL, and both have their share of question marks.

But regardless of where they line up, no one can question the duo's versatility or the veteran presence they'll bring.

In a draft class that features a record 98 underclassmen, Smith and Jones are both four-year guys but have the type of athleticism that often leads college players to turn pro early.

They, along with other Seminoles who decided to stay in school, were rewarded for their decisions with a national championship. Four of the five Florida State defensive starters expected to be drafted were seniors last season.

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"Guys that come out early, I'm not knocking them, but when you stay four years there's so much you can learn," Smith said. "It just taught me a lot about maturity and about being ready.

"When you say something, you have to be ready to back it up and give all you got."

Some scouts say that the 6-3 Smith, who weighed 218 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine, isn't big enough to get the job done as an NFL linebacker. He's taken that advice to heart, aiming to reach a playing weight of 225 pounds, but he also doesn't believe a scale can measure heart.

"When you have guys that are relentless playmakers and relentless guys that are ready to work with everything they got, then you can't do anything but be great," Smith said. "A lot of these guys have size, a lot of these guys can beat me in that, so I have to show them this is what I do.

"When you step on that field and start to make plays, all the naysayers have to hush."

No one questions Smith's playmaking ability – which was on display when he racked up 15 tackles in the national championship game – but what it isn't as clear is where he'll make plays. Used primarily as an inside linebacker his first three seasons in Tallahassee, Smith moved to the outside as a senior and led the team in tackles.

Smith didn't move around as much as Jones, who played all three linebacker spots in the Seminoles' 4-3 scheme last season. Jones has more experience on the outside but is projected by many as an inside linebacker at the pro level.

"I'm confident I can play any linebacker spot," Jones said. "I prefer to play outside, but if I get picked by a team that wants me to play inside I'd be just as happy with that. You actually learn the defense better, knowing the different spots.

"Whoever takes me is getting somebody unselfish who will play whatever they need me to play to help out the team."

It's anyone's guess where Jones and Smith will fit in on the next level, and the same goes for where they'll be picked in the draft. Either could go anywhere from the second round to the fourth round, and they'll be rooting for each other.

"We've developed a close relationship at Florida State. I think that's a reason we had the success we had as a team," Jones said. "We consider ourselves one family, so if someone gets drafted early, it's awesome. We'd be happy for whatever happens."