One of the better NFL Draft-related stories this season was the maturation of Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd. After receiving a third-round grade from the NFL Draft advisory board last year, Floyd slimmed down and became a much more dynamic receiver. More importantly, after three alcohol-related incidents sine 2009, Floyd also hasn't had any offseason issues. Floyd may even get drafted before Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon. He has better size and his hands are nearly as good.
Florida State has the luxury of throwing multiple talented cornerbacks at Floyd all game. They could use undersized junior playmaker Greg Reid on him on shorter routes. On longer routes where Floyd can simply out-leap Reid, they could use sophomore Xavier Rhodes on coverage.
Notre Dame has talent in the secondary as well. Senior cornerback Robert Blanton has come along in his first year as a full-time starter. With bigger cornerbacks becoming more popular thanks to what the Seahawks are doing, Blanton's draft stock could skyrocket. He's a bigger corner at 6-foot and 200 pounds. Safety Harrison Smith should benefit from a weak class at his position. Smith isn't a standout in any area, but he's a dependable tackler who makes good reads.
Another player who developed as the season progressed was Florida State left tackle Zebrie Sanders. He was miscast earlier in the season at a right tackle, but due to injury he's been allowed to excel on the left side. He's a naturally athletic tackle who can shut down speed rushers.
Seminoles outside linebacker Nigel Bradham has never quite lived up to the hype he had out of high school. He's been solid, but largely unspectacular. He profiles as someone who could be a success playing special teams and filling in at weakside linebacker.
One underclassman to follow leading up to the declaration deadline on Jan. 15 is Florida State end/linebacker Brandon Jenkins. He's looked good at times when lined up at a stand up rusher, but would get even better with another year in school.
3k has put out another edition of the downloadable bowl watch list, which you can (and should) download here.
In this game last year: North Carolina State beat West Virginia 23-7.
2013 NFL Draft watch: This game is more notable for the 2013 prospects than next year's. Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o has already announced that he'd be back for his senior season and Reid is leaning that way. Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert could enter the draft after this season, but may play his junior year for the Irish. Rhodes and defensive end Bjoern Werner look like future first-round picks for Florida State. Then there's Seminoles quarterback E.J. Manuel. He hasn't developed as well as expected and should return for his senior season next year.