Florida Gators NFL Draft Preview

Apr 27, 2022 | 0 comments

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NFL Draft Analyst Ryan Roberts, of the RiseNDraft, shares his thoughts on what the Gator Nation should expect during the NFL Draft this coming weekend in this Q&A session.

Q: Looking back to Florida's Pro Day up until now, players start trending upward and downward to a degree. Which Florida players do you believe helped and hurt themselves the most according to the buzz from the last month?

A: Even though he didn’t do much at the pro day besides the vertical jump and agility testing, cornerback Kaiir Elam continues to dispel the narrative that he isn’t a great athlete after his 4.39 forty-yard dash time at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine. Elam also looked fluid in the position drills. At this point, I’d be surprised if he wasn’t selected in the first round on Thursday night. 

Not necessarily directly due to his performance at either the Combine or Pro day but rather intrigue is over the length and athleticism that offensive tackle Jean Delance brings as a developmental offensive lineman. He hasn’t gotten much talk during the process but expect him to be selected on day three with some developmental upside. 

Q: Kaiir Elam is going to be the first Gator off the board, it's just a matter of if it's late first or early second. Where do you have him ranked among the other cornerbacks? It felt like before the season he was in the top of the first round, but then started falling and then started to recover with his Combine performance. Where do you see him going roughly? 

A: Elam is my fourth-ranked cornerback in an extremely talented 2022 group. The mid to late first-round seems like the most likely destination. As I said before, I would be very surprised if Elam did not hear his name on the first day. The NFL gushes over size and athleticism – both of which Elam boasts in leaps and bounds. He has CB1 upside moving forward. 

Q: Looking at the Florida players generally considered to be drafted this year, considering where they are being projected, who is the safest pick, and who is the riskiest?

A: Running back Dameon Pierce seems very safe for the role he is going to play. He was extremely underutilized as a member of the Gators but brings a fantastic combination of size and physicality. Pierce is also one of the better pass blockers of any of the running backs in the class. For a player who is probably going in the third or fourth round, he is a safe player to garner an early-down workload on the next level. 

Defensive lineman Zachary Carter is a player that leaves me a bit uneasy. He, unfortunately, falls into the tweener category for me. I’m not quite sure he is twitchy or explosive enough to work off of the edge at a consistent volume. Working inside, he also lacks the functional power to play at the point of attack full time. There’s a world where he could gain some mass and work inside more consistently but it is still a pretty big projection. I think Carter would be a player who gets lost in the shuffle a bit. 

Q: Not your own evaluation, but what you see from others out there, which Florida draft prospect is being overrated and who is being slept on and should in your opinion be higher on draft boards.

A: Elam is a player who is getting undervalued by some on the media side. With that type of length, press technique, and athleticism, he should be considered a firm first-round player. There aren’t many holes in his game. 

I see a lot of mock drafts with Carter on day two, and I just don’t see it. He doesn’t have a clear path to a high volume of snaps. The Senior Bowl also did him no favors. 

Q: Heading into Thursday, there are generally five Florida prospects who are universally considered as being taken in the seven-round draft, what are your final thoughts on each and a projection of the round in which you believe they should/could be taken?

  • Kaiir Elam: Ideal combination of length, press technique, and athletic upside. He’s a clean prospect with CB1 upside. (First round)
  • Zach Carter: Tweener defensive lineman who might not fit a position ideally. Needs to show impact as a subpackage rusher on the interior. (Fourth round) 
  • Dameon Pierce: Physically imposing runner with a lot of tread left on the tires. Nothing flashy but can get the job done as part of a committee approach. (Fourth round) 
  • Jean Delance: Developmental offensive lineman with upside on day three. He showed marked improvement over the last couple of seasons. Insane length. (Sixth round) 
  • Jeremiah Moon: Looks the part but never put it all together. Has played on the edge and as a stacked linebacker during his career. Brings outstanding length to either spot. Late round flier. (Seventh round)

Q: Finally, your thoughts on the remaining seniors as far as could any of them sneak into the bottom of the draft or are prime UDFA candidates: 

  • Malik Davis: Explosive short area mover with upside In the passing game. Too inconsistent during his time but had tremendous flashes. UDFA who could stick with a niche role. 
  • Stewart Reese: Big-bodied interior lineman who has some impressive natural power. Heavy feet with balance issues. Some backup upside for a gap power heavy scheme. 
  • Daquan Newkirk: Auburn transfer who really didn’t make much of an impact. Has a decent body to work with but no traits to really hang his hat on. Camp body. 
  • Antonio Valentino: Had some nice flashes at Penn State but just lacks the length to impact at a high level. Flashes of gap penetration with squatty frame. Will get a long look in a camp. 
  • Tyrone Truesdell: Draftable talent level who never found his niche. Motor seems to run hot and cold. Camp body. 
  • Jace Christmann: Long shot specialist with a sporadic leg. Not much of a shot.

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