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Florida mid-season NFL Draft preview

October 24, 2019
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FLORIDA FOOTBALL & RECRUITING COVERAGE
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With over half of Florida's 2019 season complete Inside the Gators had an opportunity to speak with Dion Caputi of the National Football Post for an in-depth look at the talent the Gators have coming out, or potentially coming out, this season.

Florida only has 15 scholarship seniors overall - and according to Caputi, one of them is a possible first round draft prospect.

Where the Gators could potentially take another hit is with a draft eligible junior who may declare early.

First off, with half a season to go as well as the Combine and Pro Days still to come, we aren't going to hold his feet to the fire when it comes to predictions. We know things are going to change.

Having said that, on to the questions.

Q: At this time last year we were told that Feleipe Franks was basically not on draft boards. Did his second half of the season last year change any perceptions of him? Especially that four game stretch to end the season?

A: Regarding Feleipe Franks, I find myself often thinking back to Brad Kaaya's situation at Miami. Big, projectable quarterback with more moments than consistent performances. Of course, Franks is a more naturally gifted athlete and will always offer more than the former Lions 6th round pick, but I fear he'd suffer similar difficulty in elevating his stock were he to leave Florida prematurely.

Q: Running back Lamical Perine's return for his senior season hasn't gone as expected as far as personal production. Until he broke off the 88 yard run against Auburn, he put up sub par stats running the ball. He has shown value though as a pass catcher (17 catches) and pass blocker. What do you think of him at this point? What is he looking at draft wise?

A: I was a big fan of Perine's cousin Samaje, but despite not having nearly the production he had while at Oklahoma, Lamical has a more ideal physical profile. He's more agile and twitchy by comparison and therefore I see his transition to the pro game going a little smoother - he projects to do more things.

Lamical Perine's production won't excite anyone, but he was quite effective per touch as a Junior and collegiate numbers aren't as damning when teams like a kid's skill-set. His increased role as a pass-catcher as a Senior only adds value to his stock. When all is said and done, I think he'll carry an early day three projection with some upside to backdoor day two if the pre-draft process goes well.

Q: In Josh Hammond, Van Jefferson, Freddie Swain and Tyrie Cleveland Florida has four senior wide receivers. What do you think of them? 

A: With the Gators' four senior receivers, none have ever had genuine stability at the quarterback position regardless of their route(s) to this point, so tools and physical ability are what I've paid attention to rather than production. Of the quartet, Van Jefferson's the most intriguing in my eyes. Strong, lean frame with continued room for growth and always finding ways to contribute by committee throughout his collegiate career. Past that, Josh Hammond is an exciting player after the catch and can be more of a problem as an underneath route-runner than he's exhibited. Freddie Swain seems to be developing a decent rapport with Kyle Trask and I'm curious how his role will evolve down the stretch. Tyrie Cleveland's biggest task this year was showing he was physically past his collarbone injury. I expect to see him put forth a strong effort at the Senior Bowl - he's long been on Jim Nagy's shortlist at the position.

Q: Florida center Nick Buchanan didn't really play until last season. Is he a draftable player?

A: Offensive lineman Nick Buchanan has become something of a leader on a unit starving for it this season, but the offensive line as a whole hasn't been good enough by UF's standards. Buchanan's a quality pass blocker with a fair bit of lateral agility, but he - like most of the line he plays on - struggles against the more physical defensive linemen at the point of attack, which has translated in the lack of rushing effectiveness. The 'plus' athleticism for the interior offensive line positions makes Buchanan a draftable prospect, but he must continue getting stronger to succeed at the next level. I question whether he has much more room to grow and maintain his mobility.

Q: Probably the biggest impact transfer in the nation this year outside of Jalen Hurts at Oklahoma is Jonathan Greenard for the Gators. What are your thoughts on him? What is his early draft projection?

A: Short of Kyle Trask's noble efforts in relief, it's tough to pin-point a more worthy overall MVP than Jonathan Greenard. As I watch film, I can't help but immediately notice he's the catalyst of most of the defensive success the Gators have had all season. Look no further than UF's lack of edge pressure against LSU in his absence. Greenard has a supreme get-off, a consistent motor and I suspect he'll be able to prove capable as a conversion edge. He may not be Chase Young, but he's a first round talent and projection. My question is, can he crack the top 20? Time will tell. I think he can.

Q: Florida's other defensive end Jabari Zuniga decided to return for his senior season, but after recording three sacks in the opener against Miami, he has been sidelined until this week. How is he looked upon by NFL types? What are his perceived strengths and weaknesses? What is his early projection?

A: Jabari Zuniga has a lot of tape at this point and it's clear that he plays with a superior level of power. He's a heavy-handed edge who often does well to keep a blocker's hands away from his frame. His first-step isn't of the elite variety by any means, but his ability to anchor and set a physical edge allow me to overlook it at times. He's well balanced and could provide a sound option for a base 4-3 team in late day two or on day three.

Q: Then there's Florida senior tackles Adam Shuler and Luke Ancrum. Shuler also could have come out last year but returned. What is his early draft projection? Is Ancrum even on draft boards?

A: Adam Shuler's primary role must come as an interior defensive lineman where his inability to apply consistent pressure is less problematic. He's thickly built with some room for added growth and has an active motor, which would also be more beneficial inside on obvious passing downs. Luke Ancrum is one-dimensional and not a big factor in my pre-draft evaluations, but has excellent size and bulk potential to work with.

Q: Linebacker David Reese is stellar against the run, but has been a liability dropping into coverage. With the way the NFL game is going, is there a place for a linebacker who is a run stopper? What are your thoughts on him? Early projection?

A: There are still some rare two-down run defending linebackers, but they primarily find themselves living on special teams at the next level. Reese looked tremendous as a sophomore but hasn't evolved or refined his game past volume tackles. It's a tough to envision him taking that next step on passing downs at the pro level if it hasn't happened by now. Those guys go day three.

Q: As far as possible early entry Juniors Florida has receiver Trevon Grimes and cornerback CJ Henderson. First off, the book on the two of them? Draft projections? Considering the boards at each of their positions, should they stay or go?

A: Defensive backs inherently possess more positional value than receivers do and, in this instance, I also prefer C.J. Henderson from a talent perspective between the two prospects. Though not by much. Henderson's pick production has dried up, but his ball skills to this point are relatively proven between 2017-2018 and he's less challenged. Henderson is very likely a 1st round pick eventually and I think his ceiling is within the first forty picks.

Conversely, Trevon Grimes is just another example of a receiver struggling to generate eye-popping statistics in Dan Mullen's setup (combined with instability at quarterback). At 6-foot-5 and roughly 215-pounds, he's a physical marvel with great length and high-point abilities. Sparingly used in proportion to his tools, I'd still prefer him stay and establish himself further at Florida with so many outgoing veterans.

Q: Finally, something we very rarely as NFL Draft gurus about, punter Tommy Townsend has been stellar for the Gators. How is he seen by NFL types?

A: I've grown fond of the punter evaluations lately. They're less mentally volatile than place-kickers and typically more easy to judge. Tommy Townsend has been the picture of stability for Florida all season and certainly one of college football's best punters. Precision over power, but not lacking the latter, he's on pace to punt far less this season but arguably been more effective in less projected attempts. Punters are going as high as late day two these days, so we need to be more cognizant of them in pre-draft evaluations. Townsend will be one of the more coveted.

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Florida mid-season NFL Draft preview

4,502 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 1 yr ago by OrangeandBlue
Titletown
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Zuniga is only a 4th round or worse player? He is a beast for us and he will be in the NFL.
EricN
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I would agree that Grimes would benefit by coming back for his senior season
OrangeandBlue
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Did you pick up on the line that wide receivers aren't able to be featured in Dan Mullen's offense?

That would hurt us in recruiting receivers.
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