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Inside the Gators - Orange & Blue Game Draft

April 14, 2020
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THREE-PART SERIES: FORMER FIVE-STARS WITH AN ASTERISK

Okay, due to the nationwide lockdown there may not be an actual Orange & Blue Game this Saturday as scheduled. However, for the third straight year we here at Inside the Gators thought it would be fun and interesting to conduct our own draft regardless.

Normally, there are two ways to do it.

For the purpose of continuity, they will draft entire position groups (the starting offensive line as whole would be considered a draft choice, as would the starting secondary, etc...), or they could go player-by-player until they filled out each squad.

On Tuesday afternoon Ethan Hughes (Orange Team) and Mark Wheeler (Blue Team) conducted a 22 round draft.

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Now, this isn't a true big board draft in that we had to stick to 22 players to fill specific starting slots. Meaning, a left tackle couldn't be drafted to play center. Also, in only filling specific slots, it meant that once the other side filled that slot and couldn't draft another player at that position, the other side could wait until the end to fill that position.

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Hold your smartphone horizontally to better view the tables below

 

ROUND ORANGE BLUE
#1

Tight end Kyle Pitts: With the offense short on proven playmakers, taking Pitts first overall was a no-brainer. He’s one of the top tight ends in the country, and nobody on Team Blue’s defense will be able to contain him.

Cornerback Kaiir Elam: There's no need to explain why he is Team Blue's overall No. 1 draft choice.
#2

Strong-side defensive end Zachary Carter: Elam would’ve been the pick, but with him off the board, my focus shifted to the second-most important part of a defense – pass rush. Carter is really the only option at strong-side end, so I wanted to make sure I locked him down before the entire defense started slipping away from me.

Left tackle Richard Gouraige: At the end of last season offensive tackle was a bigger question mark than offensive guard, so I wanted to target the top tackle early on because I feel like there is such a big drop off at the position from Gouraige down to Stone Forsythe and Jean Delance.
#3

Cornerback Marco Wilson: I couldn’t risk missing out on both starting corners, so I snagged Wilson a little higher than I otherwise would have. He should be better this season now that he’s further removed from his injury and likely moving to his more natural position outside.

Left guard Brett Heggie: When healthy he has proven to be Florida’s best interior offensive lineman. Getting Heggie immediately after drafting Gouriage has me feeling pretty confident that the left side of my line will be a strength in the game.
#4

Left tackle Stone Forsythe: Entering the draft, I wanted Gouraige at left tackle and Forsythe at right tackle. Thinking that Team Blue might have a similar strategy, I decided to break them up and take Forsythe at left tackle. Plus, I needed to start building the offensive line given the few proven options.

Defensive end Brenton Cox: Remember our Insider Scrimmage Report from last fall, when we were told he recorded a sack and a few pressures during that first scrimmage of the fall. Well, that was just the beginning. He has been hard to block to this point, and we feel like we got the best overall pass rusher, who has the burst to play Buck and the size to play strong side.
#5

Free safety Shawn Davis: With Team Blue staying away from the secondary for three rounds in a row, I saw an opportunity to load up and create my own version of DBU. Davis is the top safety on the team and helps make up for missing out on Elam.

Defensive tackle TJ Slaton: His talent has never been in question, it has always been that he was up and down in his commitment to being great. As we saw at the end of last season, he can be dominant when he comes to play. In our latest Anonymous Player Q&A, he was named as the best lineman on the team. I like him to be disruptive in this season, thus in this game.
#6

‘Buck’ Mohamoud Diabate: With Cox gone, I needed to make sure that I got a great pass-rusher, and I decided to grab Diabate before Team Blue got creative and drafted him as an outside linebacker. He should build off of a strong finish to his freshman season and challenge Cox for the starting role in the fall.

Running back Lorenzo Lingard: I figured I would throw the first curve ball. From what we have heard, everyone in the program has been ‘wowed’ by Lingard during conditioning and workouts prior to the lockdown. Two different sources in our Anonymous Player Q&A series have raved about him.
#7

Quarterback Emory Jones: This choice was twofold. First, I’d missed out on Gouraige and Heggie, so it was very apparent to me that my offensive line was going to be a major weakness. So, it made sense to go with the more mobile quarterback that can dodge consistent pressure. Second, I felt that he was Team Blue’s first choice at the position, so I played keep-away.

Right guard Ethan White: Now that it is pretty obvious that in Kyle Trask, we will have the least mobile of the three quarterbacks, I decided to continue to build my offensive line. By adding White, that arguably gives the Blue team the top three overall offensive linemen.
#8

Slot receiver Kadarius Toney: With three possible starters now out of the picture on the offensive line, I knew that my best chance to move the ball was going to be by stockpiling speed. There are a lot of creative things that my offense can do with Jones and Toney on the field at the same time.

Receiver Trevon Grimes: Can you believe I am getting perhaps the most physically gifted player on the team with the #16 pick overall? Neither can I. 

#9

Left guard Josh Braun: He was my No. 1 choice at this position, and I needed to salvage my offensive line as much as possible. He has great size and physicality for a freshman. He and Forsythe could form a nice combination on the left side in the running game.

Wide out Jacob Copeland: I understand that being a receiver isn’t all about build, but have you seen his offseason pictures? That shows me that he has been dedicated to becoming a better player. If you combine outstanding effort with his measurables, you get a player who is going to be hard to handle
#10

Nose tackle Kyree Campbell: This is one of the thinnest positions on the team, and I needed to shift my defensive focus to stopping the run, so he was a rather easy selection. I couldn’t let Team Blue get both starting tackles along with the top corner.

Defensive end Jeremiah Moon: He was having his best season as a pass rusher before going down with an injury last year. 
#11

Strong safety Brad Stewart: I had Trey Dean higher on my board, but I changed my mind at the last minute. I think Stewart is due for a bounce back after his disappointing 2019 season, and Dean moving to a new position would just be too much of a gamble. In Stewart and Davis, I have the two most reliable safeties.

Right tackle Jean Delance: I’ll admit that he absolutely struggled at times last year, but we’ve been told that he has really picked it up during off-season workouts. Will that equate to better play? Who knows, but I still like him in this spot compared to what's remaining on the board. 
#12

‘Star’ Amari Burney: This is basically like getting three players in one. I get a pass-rusher, a guy who can cover slot receivers and a player who is improving as a run-stopper. As we saw in the two losses last season, this position is crucial in this defensive system, and I don’t trust any of my other options.

Linebacker Ventrell Miller: The linebacker position has been ignored to this point, allowing us to draft the best overall player at the position this late in the draft. In the very first Coaches’ Corner feature of the season, former Florida assistant Jim Collins was high on Miller, and then he went out and proved him correct with a damn year.
#13

Right tackle Issiah Walker: With Team Blue getting Gouraige and Delance, I was running out of options at right tackle. Given that Walker hasn’t practiced with the team yet, this is a huge risk, but I couldn’t let another round go by without filling this spot.

Cornerback Chester Kimbrough: We’re at the point where those who don’t have a lot of question marks surrounding them are more than likely already off the board. I thought Kimbrough had a solid true freshman season and I like his size.
#14

Outside linebacker James Houston: Team Blue took Miller a couple of rounds ago and I selected Burney at ‘Star,’ so my options were getting thin at linebacker. I thought about taking Ty’Ron Hopper, but I went with the more experienced player instead.

Defensive tackle Elijah Conliffe: After missing the 2019 season with an injury, he was scheduled to be available this spring. When healthy, he has been a solid piece of the Florida defensive puzzle on the inside.
#15

Cornerback Jaydon Hill: I knew that I wanted to use this pick to complete my secondary. I didn’t like the idea of playing a guy who hasn’t participated in a college practice yet at an important position like cornerback, so I went with the most experienced option possible. Hill is unproven, but I think he’ll be fine if I have Stewart providing help over the top.

Center Kingsley Eguakun: Obviously with no spring practices we don’t have a daily depth chart to fall back on, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if Eguakun was at least very much in the running, if not the outright starter after the 14 spring practices. He completes what I believe is a much superior offensive line for Team Blue.
#16

Center T.J. Moore: Eguakun would’ve been the pick here. With him gone, I needed to get somebody who could snap the ball. It was either Moore or Tanner Rowell. I didn’t think that I could trust a former walk-on at center, so I went with Moore.

Linebacker Tyron Hopper: From what we’ve been told he is the second best coverage linebacker behind Amari Burney. Though he needs to add some size, I still like this pick this far down the board.
#17

Wide Receiver Rick Wells: Amazingly, I made it this far in the draft without taking an outside receiver. Copeland and Grimes were off the table, so I went with the only other receiver with any kind of meaningful experience. He and Jones should have a good rapport with each other after working together on the second and third teams the past two years.

Wide out Ja’Markis Weston: We haven’t seen anything out of him that would put him ahead of the other two freshmen receivers, so this is based solely on Dan Mullen’s comments about how good he is potentially going to be.
#18

Right guard Richie Leonard: Since I had to settle for Moore at center, Leonard was the best remaining option at right guard. I like his upside better than some of the other options such as Riley Simonds, Griffin McDowell and Rowell. Since I had to go with a youth movement upfront, why not go all in?

Tight end Keon Zipperer: I was tempted to take Kemore Gamble here, but with Mullen wanting to give fans an offensive show during the spring game, I went with the player who I feel has big play potential in Zipperer.
#19

Wide Receiver Dionte Marks: I couldn’t bring myself to pick a guy that caught just two passes in three seasons at Texas in Jordan Pouncey, so I went with the highest-ranked member of the 2019 wide receiver class. Toney and Wells are smaller receivers, so Marks will add some much-needed size to my receiving corps.

Cornerback Ethan Pouncey: Yes, he is undersized, but I am a fan. Corner is probably the one position on defense where you can throw a true freshman into the fire and reasonably expected that they will at least be competitive.
#20

Middle linebacker Lacedrick Brunson: This pick was simply the product of a process of elimination. I needed a middle linebacker, and Brunson was the only one left who could fill that role.

Safety Donovan Stiner: He’s been up and down in that he is good for a big play or two here and there, but he has to get the bad angles and missed tackles taken care of to be a better all-around player.
#21

Running back Dameon Pierce: Once Team Blue took Lingard in the sixth round, there was no need to take a running back until the very end. No other running backs were considered, and Pierce’s powerful running style should prove very beneficial given my shortcomings on the offensive line.

Safety Rashard Torrance: This pick tells you about all you need to know about the state of the safety position. I would rather go with an early entry freshman who is basically an unknown than to go with any of the remaining upperclassmen. Though, if Trey Dean were projected as a safety, I would have nabbed him here. 
#22

Defensive tackle Marlon Dunlap: I chose the only experienced option left to fill this position. He’ll team with Campbell to give my team a pair of sturdy players in the middle who will keep the linebackers clean and help prevent explosive runs.

Quarterback Kyle Trask: Once Team Orange selected Emory Jones early on, we had the luxury of not having to take a quarterback until the very end. It's not often you can pull the starting quarterback on the very last pick of the draft.

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THE TEAMS

OFFENSE
POSITION ORANGE BLUE
QB Emory Jones Kyle Trask
RB Dameon Pierce Lorenzo Lingard
WR Rick Wells Trevon Grimes
WR Dionte Marks Jacob Copeland
WR Kadarius Toney JaMarkis Weston
LT Stone Forsythe Richard Gouraige
LG Richie Leonard Brett Heggie
C TJ Moore Kingsley Eguakun
RG Josh Braun Ethan White
RT Issiah Walker Jean Delance
TE Kyle Pitts Keon Zipperer
DEFENSE
DE Mohamoud Diabate Jeremiah Moon
NG Kyree Campbell TJ Slaton
DT Marlon Dunlap Elijiah Conliffe
DE Zach Carter

Brenton Cox

LB James Houston Ventrell Miller
LB Lancedrick Brunson Tyron Hopper
NB Amari Burney  Ethan Pouncey
CB Marco Wilson Kaiir Elam
CB Jaydon Hill Chester Kimbrough
S Brad Stewart Donovan Stiner
S Shawn Davis Rashard Torrence

Ethan makes the case for Team Orange: They say that defense wins championships, and that’s why Team Orange would win this matchup. This defense checks every box. Marco Wilson will limit Trevon Grimes, while Mohamoud Diabate and Zachary Carter will harass Kyle Trask. Trask’s lack of mobility will allow Carter and Kyree Campbell to crash hard on Lorenzo Lingard and shut down the run. On the other side of the ball, Kyle Pitts will have a field day with Jeremiah Moon, Ventrell Miller and Rashad Torrence in coverage. The one major concern I have is the offensive line. I’m counting on three true freshmen to block Brenton Cox, Jeremiah Moon and Tedarrell Slaton. However, Emory Jones’ running ability and the quick-strike throws to Kadarius Toney should spread the defense out just enough to allow Dameon Pierce to produce a decent running game and keep the pocket relatively clean. I also do not have as much talent at wideout as I would like, but this will be offset by Team Blue only having one probable starter in its secondary. This will be a low-scoring game, but Team Orange’s defense will allow it to prevail.

Mark makes the case for Team Blue: I was ‘gifted’ Kyle Trask with the last pick in the draft to play behind an offensive line that features five of the top seven offensive linemen. Trask will be throwing to Trevon Grimes and Jacob Copeland. Then on defense, as Ethan himself points out, Team Blue has Brenton Cox, Jeremiah Moon and TJ Slaton going against Stone Forsyth, Issiah Walker and Richie Leonard. No offense to them, they may be players in the future, but those young’ins aren’t ready for what they would have coming at them at this point in their careers. My main concern is covering Kyle Pitts, but on the plays where Kaiir Elam isn’t on him, we can double him up if need be. The first two years I thought my team was a slam dunk. I think if you go back and rewatch the individual performances, that will be on display. This year it is a bit closer, but I still like Team Blue to win it.

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READ OUR ANONYMOUS PLAYER Q&A FOR THOUGHTS ON COX, LINGARD & MUCH MORE

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