Gator Made: A Look at Florida in the NFL Draft
The NFL Draft is finally here and as always the Florida Gators are anticipated to be well represented with nine players expected to be in the draft.
Lets take a look at the most prominent draft eligible players in this year’s draft class.
First up, we have defensive tackle Dominique Easley. It’s no secret that all eyes are on the Staten Island native as he is expected to be the first Gator selected in the draft. Many have anticipated the 6-foot-2, 285 pound Easley to be first round status, but after multiple ACL injuries, teams will likely be reluctant to pick him in the first round. Prior to his ACL injury, Easley was considered to be one of the top defensive lineman in the country but his health and durability is a concern and has caused his draft stock to crash. Most are now projecting him to be selected in the second round or early in the third.
If Easley is not the first Gator to be drafted it could very well be cornerback Marcus Roberson, who could go early in the third round. Roberson has good size and can also make big explosive plays. The other two Florida cornerbacks in the draft, Jaylen Watkins and Loucheiz Purifoy could also go in the late third or fourth round.
Roberson and Purifoy were considered possible high draft picks, but may have hurt their chances of going in the first two rounds when they recorded the same disappointing time of 4.61 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Watkins is also projected to be taken in the third to fourth round and may even surpass Roberson and Purifoy to be the first Florida cornerback selected after posting a 4.41 in the 40 at the NFL Combine.
Next up, we have wide receiver Solomon Patton, better known for his speed, quickness and versatility. The former Florida Offensive MVP had the most impressive day of any Gator running an official best of 4.31 seconds in the 40, performing well in drills, and catching most passes in the rain at Florida’s annual Pro Day. Patton has definitely shown that he can play at the next level and teams in need of obvious speed and quickness will definitely want to draft him. One team in particular that has shown quite the interest an interest is The Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Other Draft Prospects:
Trey Burton, TE: A likely late sixth or early seventh round pick. Burton is a very intelligent and versatile player with good speed. He is a prospect that has played five different positions at Florida which include quarterback, receiver, fullback, running back and tight end. His experience playing different positions definitely enhances his draft stock in the eyes of NFL executives.
Ronald Powell, OLB: He’s projected as a late fourth to early fifth round pick. Powell was the top recruit in the country coming out of high school, but never reached that potential due to injuries. At 6-foot-3, 237 pounds, most believe his best days on the field are ahead.
Jon Halapio, C: The Senior Bowl participant projects as a fifth to sixth round choice. Halapio has a lot of experience, starting 43 games and appearing in 51 for the Gators. He can drive block and is effective when he has an angle. Provides adequate three-step drop protection, and is powerful in the run game.
Jonotthan Harrison, C: Expected to be selected in the fifth to sixth rounds. He’s a three-year starter at center for the Gators, extremely intelligent with a total of 38 starts for the Gators. He also had a solid performance at the NFL Scouting Combine.
With the NFL Draft kicking off at 8 pm, the moment these men have been waiting for their whole lives is now just a few hours away.Gator Made: A Look at Florida in the NFL Draft by Bonnie Mott