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FSU's Patrick Payton, Marvin Jones Jr. ranked among nation's Top 7 DEs by Phil Steele

On3 imageby:Ira Schoffel07/08/24

iraschoffel

Florida State has produced first-round defensive ends in two of the last three NFL Drafts, and if college football expert Phil Steele is on the money with his preseason evaluations, the Seminoles could have one or two more in 2025.

In his annual preseason magazine, Steele breaks down his top 25 draft-eligible defensive ends going into the 2024 season, and Florida State has two of the top seven on his board.

Redshirt junior Patrick Payton, a 6-foot-5, 254-pounder who has made major improvements each of the last two years, comes in at No. 5 on Steele’s list. And Georgia transfer Marvin Jones Jr., who was a five-star prospect coming out of high school and is looking for a breakout season with the Seminoles, checks in at No. 7.

If Steele is accurate, that would give Florida State two of the nation’s top seven defensive ends and arguably the best tandem in the country.

Ohio State comes in slightly ahead to start the year, according to Steele, with J.T. Tuimoloau at No. 4 and Jack Sawyer at No. 6. But no other team has two defensive ends listed in the top 10.

The only other school with one top-10 defensive end and another pass-rusher in the top 25 is Texas A&M with Nic Scourton at No. 3 and Shemar Stewart at No. 21.

It’s not a surprise to see Florida State defensive ends ranked highly on this list. Jared Verse was a first-round selection of the L.A. Rams in the 2024 NFL Draft, and Jermaine Johnson was taken by the New York Jets in the first round two years earlier.

Payton, who earned ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors as a redshirt freshman in 2022, started every game last fall and finished with 44 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 7 sacks and 10 pass breakups. In the last two years, Payton has played in 27 games and recorded 75 tackles, 20.5 for loss and 12 sacks.

Jones, who only started one game at Georgia, doesn’t have the stats of most other defensive ends on Steele’s list, but he has gobs of potential. He bulked up to 6-foot-5 and 257 pounds this spring, and he displayed outstanding quickness and agility during that month of practices.

Here is more on Steele’s list of the top 25 defensive ends.

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Georgia DE transfer Marvin Jones Jr. and Florida State veteran Patrick Payton run through Tour of Duty drills. (Gene Williams/Warchant)

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