Florida Pro Day Notebook

Mar 29, 2022 | 0 comments

During Florida Football’s 2022 Pro Day another crop of draft-eligible players completed tests and drills in the comfort of the IPF in hopes of upping their draft stock.

An army of NFL scouts, coaches, and front office personnel, wearing a technicolor array of team polos analyzing every movement of over a dozen Gators players auditioning for their opportunity to play on the next level.

Here are some highlights of what was said and seen today.

Kaiir Elam

● Elam mentioned he wanted to showcase his athleticism. But found it important to be out
with his brothers, motivate them, help as much as he could and “strap it up one last

● An interesting approach, he’s chosen to represent himself to start his professional
career. His father Abe and uncle Matt were in the NFL so he feels he has some of the
answers to the test. But retains a lawyer, advisor, mentor, and financial planner. He’s not
sure if he’ll do it his entire career but for right now he’s going this route.

● He spent his preparation time learning how to take care of his body. Elam went to an
acupuncturist twice a week and he had more time to recover after training than in
college. He started stretching more often too. Before and after workouts and before he
went to bed. He trained with XPE Sports in Fort Lauderdale.

● New football head coach Billy Napier also made it hard for him to say no to a return.
Elam still felt there were some things he could prove in his senior year and Napier
pitched to him that he could. The new head man put the full-court press on Elam
apparently as the cornerback stated he spoke with just about everybody regarding any
potential return. But he thinks Jason Marshall Jr. and the rest of that room made great
strides and should be ready to go.

Malik Davis

● Davis said he felt like he performed well at pro day. It was a lot of training and mental
toughness to get ready for it. He trained with RX Sports in California.

● The running back has had plenty of conversations with teams but nothing too extensive. He currently has visits with the Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lined up. In his own words, whatever team that picks him up is getting someone willing to lead by example and work hard. He’ll be watching the draft at home in Tampa.

● He participated with fellow RB Dameon Pierce. Getting that last ride with Pierce was a great feeling. "He’s an energy guy," Davis said. "He always brings that energy to the room, brings a smile on our faces. That’s my brother.”

Stewart Reese

● Reese felt he performed well and put up good numbers. He did his job and now it's up to teams to decide. According to his agent, scouts thought highly of what they saw. He currently has a workout set with the Tampa Buccaneers on April 7.

● He's hoping to project as someone who can play any of the three positions whether left or right. He has plenty of experience (and miles on his body) with over 50 starts at the collegiate level.

● The offensive lineman has big dreams in two different disciplines. He's currently making the push to become a pro but maintains his life goal of being an anesthesiologist. Big inspirations for him keeping that goal are former Florida State defensive back and now doctor Myron Rolle plus Reese's older brother Brandon. He believes everything is still in front of him and wants to leave no stone unturned. That's why he's making his case for teams now. Football is something he fell in love with.

Jean Delance

● Delance felt he proved his ability as a hard-working play who possesses athleticism, length, and strength. He mentioned teams like him personally and like his measurables. They feel he can be a swing tackle or make a transition inside to guard. Some even want him to play all five positions and Delance feels up to the task. Explicitly stated he’d like to be able to play center and market himself as a rotational piece then work his way into being a starter.

● As of right now, he’s seen interest from several teams. Specifically, he mentioned visits with the Los Angeles Chargers on April 4, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on April 7, and the Arizona Cardinals on April 11. The night before Pro Day, he had dinner with Eagles representatives.

● “It's coming faster and faster,” Delance said.” Every day, every 24 hours it's like a tick and tock. Man, it's reality time, it's crunch time and I feel like I've put myself in a great position." He’s just hoping to go to the best place for him and the organization to prove how hard-working he is.

Zachary Carter

● Carter said people felt he could’ve come out after the 2020 season but he decided to stay. He wanted to show himself as a complete player. One capable of stopping the run, rushing the passer, and leading a team. Carter said he felt he accomplished his individual goals for the 2021 season despite the lack of team goal success.

● An interesting prospect, Carter played both inside and outside for Florida over his final two years. That’s a big selling point to some teams. He mentioned the Bills spoke to him about playing end on early downs then sliding him inside to rush the passer and other teams feel the same. David Turner was right that being flexible would work out for him in the long run.

● He trained with Michael Johnson Performance in McKinney, Texas. During that time he maintained his playing weight from 2021 (285) but dropped his body fat from 25 percent to 18. Carter explained training for pro days and combines are wildly different from training for a football season. “It took me a while to get used to it, but they kicked my butt,” he said. He also said he was able to improve his change of direction, which is big for defensive linemen.

● He’ll be watching the draft in Tampa. Damien Butler of Quality Control Sports is representing him. And Carter’s seen plenty of interest from teams. He listed off conversations with the Falcons, Seahawks, Saints, Vikings, and Bills with plans to see the Jaguars and 49ers over the next few weeks. Also had some conversations, visits, and workouts scheduled in January.

Antonio Valentino

● “I had to tell myself when I woke up this morning, ‘This is the moment. This is the time. This is what I worked my entire life for,’” he said. “I’ve been playing football since I was five. I’m 24 years old. I’ve dedicated my life to this. I literally had to tell myself, ‘People are here to see you perform. They’re here to see you and your teammates perform.’ Somebody out here is getting paid. The money is out there every single year. This is the moment where you make these people decide that you’re worthy of that investment. The next thing I know, hopefully, I get my name called and my dreams come true. I get my opportunity.”

● Valentino believes he proved his mobility and is explosive and strong at the point of attack as a tackle despite being “undersized.” He was mentored a lot by former Gator defensive tackle Shariff Floyd and watched a lot of his tape. He learned that great things happen around the ball and recited a play of his chasing down Johnny Manziel in 2012. Watching Floyd’s film was the first time he’d ever really seen a first-round tackle. Without him, Valentino doesn’t know if he’d be where he is.

● Albeit he was disappointed in his bench press as he only got 25 reps up and not the 30-plus he wanted. But liked his performance in the rest of the tests and the positional drills he went through with other defensive linemen. But definitely knows his film will speak volumes for him too. “To be honest, these things out here really show the potential of what you can do,” he said. “I think that film, game film, is always going to be at the top of the list. That’s just me.”

John Pace of 3XL Sports Management is representing him. As of Pro Day, he had a workout with the Buccaneers scheduled on April 7 like many other players. He just knows he has to stay ready and if there’s an opportunity to get his foot in the door, to try to get everything through too.

Daquan Newkirk

● The transfer defensive tackle thought he did OK for a guy coming off of injury like he was. Newkirk said he came in about 18 pounds heavier but some of that was due to him being out. The injury occurred after getting his interception early in the game against Vanderbilt. It was a back injury that later required an epidural shot.

● He’s hoping to get back to his regular 310. That helps with his versatility as a lineman and his ability to move around along the line of scrimmage.

● The man they call “Red” had something to prove in his Pro Day. He led all participants in the bench press with 29 reps of 225 pounds. He could’ve done more in his mind but apparently, he lost count and couldn’t get anybody to tell what number he had. It messed up his rhythm.

● Newkirk echoed Carter’s sentiment of just how different preparing for the Combine or Pro Day is than just training to be a football player. It’s not something you train for. “I've been playing football for like 18 years,” he said. “So I'm coming out here doing something I didn't train for that long. It’s very new to me.”

● “We’re all competitive, so we’re all coming out here just wanting to do good,” he said later on. “So I think that competitive edge is really what drives us. It was great being back with my brothers for one last time.”

Interesting Results from Testing

Malik Davis ran two 40-yard dashes. One at 4.71 and another at 4.78 unofficially. That’d place him last among NFL Combine participants at his position, which is not great. But, before that, he posted a 39.5-inch vertical and 10.7-inch broad jump. Both good enough to place him within the top two or three of Combine running backs.

It still shows he has athleticism and even with a reconstructed knee despite what might appear as not great speed.

“It felt pretty good,” Davis said about his results in those tests. “It’s always questions about my injuries. I rehabbed after each injury hard and every day. I think today that showed.”

Meanwhile, Carter ran the 40s slower than his best at the Combine and slower than the likes of Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt from Georgia. Those are two guys respectively 60 and 30 pounds heavier than Carter. But later on Carter put up a 4.30 in the 20-yard shuttle, which would have been the fourth-best among Combine defensive ends.

Elam sat on his 40 time of 4.39 from the Combine (a wise move). He did do several tests but the only one with significant Combine participation was the vertical. He didn’t do it in Indianapolis but his 37.5 inches would tie him with his former teammate Chris Steele at No. 4 overall if he had.

Players Hearing Great Reviews on Napier

Several of the players interviewed were asked about the new staff, their feelings on it and what they heard from the younger players about it.

Carter mentioned him walking around the facilities a few days before Pro Day. Every coach he spoke with felt he was being treated as if still a player at the school. And he said he’s heard nothing but great things so far.

“They kept a few faces around, but just the feeling I had when I met these guys they made me feel like I was still part of the family,” he said. “So that was a good feeling for me. I had tweeted the other day, I was like, ‘Florida is family.’ Even with a new staff it still feels like home. I think they have something good going on.”

Delance and Reese were asked about the use of two offensive line coaches, something Napier did while at Louisiana as well. They both think it’s a great idea because it allows for more specified work. Reese said linemen can get more one-on-one coaching through it while Delance mentioned it allows for the interior and offensive tackles to work separately. Not to mention a varied regimen of coaching thanks to having two coaches.

Delance also recognized a difference in the structure of practice too.

“It's expected that we're going to practice this way, we're going to be this way every day, day in and out,” he said. “It's a high tempo. Like there [are] no lackadaisical moments in practice. Every guy is giving his all, whether it be running from doing a drill or just picking some guys up, 'Okay, this is how we're gonna block this, this is how we're going to move through this rep.'"

Elam hasn’t had a chance to get out to practice but plans to now that Pro Day is done. However, he said the players love Napier and he’s big on player development.

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