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Florida Gators NFL Draft Preview

April 23, 2020
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THREE-PART SERIES: FORMER FIVE-STARS WITH AN ASTERISK

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

Florida is one of the programs that didn't get to hold a Pro Day before the nationwide shutdown. How does that impact those UF players who didn't get invited to the NFL Combine?

It could have a huge impact potentially, specifically for those players who did not have the chance to compete in the All-Star circuit or at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. It’s one less opportunity to prove their worth. This year’s cycle is going to be even more film driven than usual. The good news is that Florida is such a big brand that there is plenty of film and interest floating around them. It’s more a deficit for the smaller school players who needed this chance to really turn some heads.

Looking back to the Combine, which Florida players do you believe helped themselves the most? 

C.J. Henderson is the easy answer. It seems like he is almost the consensus cornerback in the class after Jeff Okudah from the league’s perspective. He texted well and has rode that momentum throughout the process. Jabari Zuniga is another that helped himself big time. It is easy to see the athletic traits on film but that showing will do a lot in an edge class that is starving for second-day talent. I think Tyrie Cleveland and Freddie Swain really helped themselves as well. I imagine Swain finding a niche for a long time on the back of the roster with special teams work. Cleveland is a really interesting guy for me. He was never able to put it together while at Florida but he has some really nice athletic traits to develop. 

Did anyone hurt themselves?

I was really hoping that Jonathan Greenard would test a little better. On film, he is a superior player to Jabari Zuniga. I enjoyed his evaluation quite a bit. I’m worried that NFL teams might not be quite as excited about him as I am. I’m not sure if “hurt him” would be the best phrase but it was a shame that Van Jefferson wasn’t able to compete. After a dominant showing at the Senior Bowl, another solid performance could have solidified him somewhere on Day Two. 

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 they should/could be taken?

CJ Henderson: I am a little lower on C.J. Henderson than the consensus. I think the lack of physicality shows up a lot more than just in the run game. That being said, Henderson is going to be selected somewhere in the top 16 picks. People are falling in love with his coverage upside… which I understand.

  • Ryan Roberts Projection: Henderson is almost a sure lock to be selected in the top half of the first round.

Jabari Zuniga:  Zuniga is nowhere near a finished product. The talent is apparent but his get off and consistency leave a ton to be desired. On film, Jonathan Greenard should be the first Florida edge selected. I would be shocked, however, if Zuniga isn’t the first off the board. He is a whole lot more developmental than his draft slot might indicate.

  • Ryan Roberts Projection: I think the next one on the board is Zuniga in early Round Three.

Jonathan Greenard:  I really liked Greenard’s film. There is a clear understanding and plan of attack. His hand usage is nice. I think the floor is relatively high to at least be a depth piece in a defensive line room.

  • Ryan Roberts Projection: Then Greenard and Jefferson fight for the next landing spot. I could see both coming off in either Round Three or Four.

Van Jefferson: He is one of the more advanced technicians in the class. He has an arsenal of releases and a strong pair of hands. The floor is substantial on him. He might not quite be the athlete to occupy a high volume role but he is a pretty safe bet. 

  • Ryan Roberts Projection: See above

Lamical Perine: Speaking of consistency, that’s what you are getting in Lamical Perine. There isn’t much flash but he does everything relatively well. He is the perfect complement to a committee system. I’m a fan.

  • Ryan Roberts Projection: Perine should be somewhere between Rounds Five and Seven.

Then you have two players who are definitely on NFL radars and could be drafted

Tyrie Cleveland: I am really intrigued by him. He was a huge recruit and never quite put it all together. He tested well enough where a team might take a shot with him as a developmental receiving option. I expect him to get a long look in camp. What he does with that opportunity is up to him.

  • Ryan Roberts Projection:  I think Cleveland ends up going late Day Three off of potential

Freddie Swain: I think Swain is going to do some admirable work on special teams and find a way to stick for a long time. I’m not sure he has enough upside to project favorably on offense but he brings some speed to the table so that’s a huge sell.

  • Ryan Roberts Projection: Swain ends up as a UDFA kid. 

Finally, your thoughts on the remaining seniors: Luke Ancrum, Nick Buchanan, Josh Hammond, David Reese, Adam Shuler, and Tommy Townsend?
Tommy Townsend?

I’d say they are very unlikely to be selected during the Draft. I only have official breakdowns on David Reese and Josh Hammond. Reese is just pretty limited. I’m not sure there is much developmental potential. I could see Hammond fighting for an end of the roster spot. Tommy Townsend is probably the most likely to grab a roster spot but I would be lying if I told you I had a clear evaluation on specialists.

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