Defense: Grading the two-deep depth chart

Dec 11, 2019 | 0 comments


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With the regular season over and exam week here, it seems like the perfect time to hand out some final grades for every player on the Gators’ two-deep depth chart. The following depth chart is based on the unofficial one UF released prior to the Florida State game and may not accurately reflect how playing time was actually divvied up.

BUCK
PlayerCommentGrade
Jonathan Greenard

An A+ probably doesn’t even properly describe what he meant to this defense. He’s arguably one of the top transfer players in school history. He was named First Team All-SEC by both the coaches and the media after leading the league with 8.5 sacks despite being hampered for about a month with an ankle injury. If he had been healthy all season, he might’ve challenged Alex Brown’s school record of 13 sacks in a season.

A+
Khris Bogle

Jeremiah Moon was the No. 2 Buck all season until suffering a season-ending injury against Georgia, and Mohamoud Diabate seemed to play more snaps at Buck than Bogle. Still, Bogle turned in a solid freshman year with a couple of sacks, although his production faded as the season went on.

B

 

END
PlayerCommentGrade
Jabari Zuniga

His season was derailed by a sprained ankle he suffered in the third game of the season at Kentucky. He played in just two games the remainder of the season and was severely limited in those two games. He recorded three sacks and seven tackles-for-loss in his limited action.

INC
Zachary Carter

He served as the de facto starter for most of the year with Zuniga out and showed tremendous signs of growth, racking up 4.5 sacks and seven tackles-for-loss. He’s a possible breakout candidate in 2020.

B+

 

NOSE
PlayerCommentGrade
Kyree Campbell

He is second among defensive linemen in tackles with 36. He doesn’t make a lot of highlight-reel plays, but he helped the Gators rank second in the SEC in rushing defense.

B+
Luke Ancrum

He provides veteran depth but not much else. He doesn’t really excel in any one area, but he’s not terrible at anything either. His almost weekly unsportsmanlike conduct penalties will not be missed.

C+

 

TACKLE
PlayerCommentGrade
Adam Shuler

Like Campbell, you almost didn’t even notice him on the field at times, which is usually a good thing for an interior lineman. He registered 2.5 sacks and five tackles-for-loss.

B
Marlon Dunlap

He got lost in the shuffle as the No. 4 interior lineman and played in only eight games. He made just three tackles and one sack.

C+

 

MIDDLE LINEBACKER
PlayerCommentGrade
David Reese II

He led the team in tackles for the second time in three years with 89. He was the engine in the middle of the defense that made all of the other parts run smoothly. He gave up a few plays in coverage, but that’s not really his fault as much as it is the coaches’.

A-
James Houston

He’s fifth on the team with 37 stops and fourth with 3.5 sacks. He’ll have a chance to claim a starting role next season with Reese moving on.

B

 

WEAKSIDE LINEBACKER
PlayerCommentGrade
Ventrell Miller

He started the year with a bang by making two sacks against Miami. He recorded just half a sack the remainder of the season. He provided solid play next to Reese and helped hold the defense together despite a decimating wave of injuries.

B+
Amari Burney

It’s hard to gauge him because of his off-and-on season due to injuries. After a slow start to the season, he intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble against Tennessee. The following week, he produced a career-high eight tackles against Towson. He slowly dissipated afterward and didn’t play after the Georgia game due to injury. He has all of the physical traits you could want in a linebacker, but they do no good sitting on the bench.

INC

 

STAR
PlayerCommentGrade
Marco Wilson

He didn’t play well in the first few games but eventually settled into a groove toward the middle of the season. He intercepted the first three passes of his career. He took his game to another level after being moved to Star and could play the position again next season if he opts to return to school.

B+
Amari Burney

To be completely honest, I have no idea why UF lists him as the backup at Star every week. First, he hasn’t been healthy for most of the season. Second, there’s no way they would put him in man-to-man coverage against one of the opponent’s quickest receivers. He’s extremely fast for a linebacker, but he’s still a linebacker. Should Wilson get injured, Dean or Chester Kimbrough would be the likely replacements.

INC

 

CORNERBACK
PlayerCommentGrade
C.J. Henderson

He didn’t have the dominant season that everyone was looking for and he failed to intercept a pass, but he still broke up a team-best 11 passes and was named First Team All-SEC by the coaches. He’s already declared for the NFL Draft and will sit out the bowl game.

A-
Jaydon Hill

Most of his work has come on special teams, but he’s played well in his limited opportunities on defense, as he’s tied for second with three pass breakups. He should take on an expanded role in 2020.

INC

 

CORNERBACK
PlayerCommentGrade
Kaiir Elam

He played a key reserve role all year prior to moving into the starting lineup against Missouri. Despite being a freshman, he provided lockdown coverage pretty much all season, so much so that teams didn’t challenge him that much despite his youth. He could be an All-America candidate next season.

A
Trey Dean

Quite frankly, he was atrocious at times while playing Star, but he seemed much more comfortable and productive after moving back outside for the final three games. A switch to safety would probably still be the best option for him moving forward.

C

 

SAFETY
PlayerCommentGrade
Donovan Stiner

He takes poor angles against the run far too frequently, but he was underappreciated by fans this season. He led the team with four interceptions. He’s a smart player that the coaches can count on to know his assignment and execute it. Unfortunately for him, he doesn’t have the physical talent to make all of the plays he needs to.

B
Shawn Davis

He played extremely well early in the season, highlighted by his one-handed interception against Auburn that induced flashbacks of Brandon Spikes. However, he struggled toward the end of the season, with the Georgia game being the low point. He’s a bruising hitter against the run, but he gets out of position too often in coverage.

B

 

SAFETY
PlayerCommentGrade
Jeawon Taylor

He looked scared to tackle anybody at the beginning of the season as he recovered from a shoulder injury. He improved a little bit as the season went on, but he’s still a liability against both the run and the pass.

C-
Brad Stewart

Nobody regressed more on the defense from 2018 than him. He entered the season with people talking about him as a possible All-SEC candidate. Instead, he played in only nine games as a reserve and made just 23 tackles and no interceptions.

D

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