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Inside the Gators - Orange & Blue Game Draft

March 19, 2021

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Because of restrictions put in place due to Covid-19,  there may not be an actual Orange & Blue Game this Saturday as scheduled. However, for the fourth 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 a 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 Thursday afternoon Donavon Keiser (Orange Team) and Mark Wheeler (Blue Team) conducted a 22 round draft.



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.


Hold your smartphone horizontally to better view the tables below



Cornerback Kaiir Elam: Due to the lack of cornerback experience, I had to take the future NFL cornerback. Team Orange gets a defensive veteran and leader.

Strong-side defensive end Zachary Carter: Regardless of name recognition and/or hype, the case can be made that Carter is the top returning defensive player for Florida - and someone who is equally adept at getting after the quarterback and playing the run.

Safety Trey Dean: To some, this might be a head-scratching pick, but Dean’s potential at safety is one to be excited about. With last year’s attrition at safety, Dean is the only trustworthy player on the backend.

Quarterback Emory Jones: Going into the draft one thing I knew was, even if you could draft your five preferred offensive linemen, protection was still potentially going to be a problem. I wanted someone who has been tested playing in-front of crowds and has shown the ability to throw the ball and move around.

Buck Brenton Cox: This is a no-brainer, as Cox is the best at his position on the entire roster. His ability to rush the passer will come in handy in Team Orange’s scheme against the pass.

Left tackle Richard Gouraige: By my way of thinking, there were three huge gaps between the top player at a position and everyone else at that position. Elam at cornerback, Carter along the defensive line, and Gouraige at offensive tackle. Getting Gouraige here begins my offensive line build.

Left guard Ethan White: Gouraige was one of my top targets, but Team Blue stole him from me the pick before. Knowing the importance of a strong offensive line, I took White early. Mullen has been raving about the left side of the line, so I grabbed White to get one of the two spring practice standouts.

Defensive tackle Daquan Newkirk: By all accounts, he has been a monster in the middle for Florida this spring and I wanted to start to build the interior of my defensive line.

 Wide receiver Jacob Copeland: You have got to have weapons to have a respectable offense. I snagged Copeland as my WR1 to surround my quarterback with playmakers. Copeland is a fourth-year veteran, one that can make a play when I need it.

Left guard Josh Braun: By the end of last season he was playing as well as anyone on the line - locking down a starting position. He teams with Gouraige to give Team Blue a winning edge on the left side of the line. 

Center Stewart Reese: Going back to the trenches, I took Reese to build my offensive line. Braun was drafted the round before, so I had to grab the next best guy. Reese has taken snaps at center this spring, providing a reliable piece to my offensive line to help out my young quarterback.

Right tackle Michael Tarquin: Yes, this seems a bit high, but compared to what is left at tackle, Team Blue had to take the plunge. He's starting to come into his own at right tackle. It wouldn’t be surprising if he takes over for Delance sometime early in the season and holds down the spot for the next couple of seasons.

Linebacker Mohamoud Diabate: I had first dibs at the linebacker position, selecting Diabate to build my defense around. The speed Diabate has will be crucial, as I will rely on him heavily in coverage based on my other draft picks at the position. I opted to take Diabate over Miller based on his skill set and development, as I believe Diabate has the higher ceiling at the linebacker position.

Linebacker Ventrell Miller: Linebackers are going the way of the dinosaur in today's game as teams are passing the ball at such a high rate. With that being said, with Diabate off the board, I couldn't afford to lose Miller as well. Plus, it was surprising to see him still here. Yes, Diabate has a high ceiling and a big future, but the game is being played tomorrow and I like Miller to make a million tackles behind my space eaters up-front.

Cornerback Jason Marshall: Getting into the middle part of the draft, Marshall was the highest value pick on my board. The secondary was a priority going into my draft, and I could not pass up an opportunity to draft another corner to ensure my pass defense was up to par. Although Marshall is a true freshman, he was a five-star prospect for a reason.

Receiver Justin Shorter: There are two things I like about him compared to the other receivers. First, he has a huge catch radius. Second, he is dependable. Copeland and Henderson possess undeniable talent, but both have also had issues holding on to the ball and with their route running. A mistake by a receiver can kill a young quarterback’s confidence.


Offensive tackle Jean Delance: Not the most ideal pick, but I needed a tackle after Team Blue took the other first-teamer in Gouraige. Team Orange gets an experienced tackle to anchor their right side, taking experience over talent.

Safety Rashad Torrence: If nothing else Dean proved last year that he should have been a safety all along (as well as seeing more time) and he is going to be one heck of a player. However, having said that, I would make the case that Torrence had a better season and is going to have just as bright a future. 

Running back Nay’Quan Wright: Although I was very intrigued to wait until the end to take a running back, I saw Wright and wanted to get it out of the way. I took Wright over the other backs because of his ability to run the ball and affect the passing game.

Defensive end Khris Bogle: Forgetting the hype surrounding them, on a per-snap basis, Bogle seemed to be at the very least as impactful as Cox last year. I like Bogle to be a difference-maker, not just in this imaginary game, but going forward.

Safety Donovan McMillon: Once again, Team Orange’s philosophy to draft well in the secondary was apparent. In the first 11 rounds, four of those selections were in the secondary. McMillon has been turning heads as an early enrollee, even gaining praise from the head man Dan Mullen.

Defensive tackle Gervon Dexter: I had Dexter pegged as a top 5-7 pick, but kept thinking if he is drafted, I’ll take Desmond Watson as my fallback option. I can't believe I got Dexter at the halfway point of the draft.

Tight end Kemore Gamble: It was a toss-up between Gamble and Keon Zipperer, but I opted to take Gamble to help out more in the run game. Gamble is a willing blocker, picking up some slack from the average offensive line in the run game.

Center Kingsley Eguakun: He's Team Blue’s biggest question mark up front, but we can take some solace in the fact he will be going against Humpries some and we can help him with a double-team on Shelton.

Wide receiver Xzavier Henderson: Both drafts were moving in different directions, and I wanted to play keep away while building serious depth at wide receiver. Henderson was a no-brainer, landing another top target to pair with Copeland.

Cornerback Jaydon Hill: He is more physical than you would think for his size. He didn't make a lot of impactful plays last season, but then again, really none of the cornerbacks did. Though he didn't record an interception, he was second on the team with 7 pass break-ups (Elam had 11).

Offensive tackle TJ Moore: With all other options at tackle exhausted, Moore had to be the pick to fill the spot.

Safety Tre’Vez Johnson: As you would expect from a true freshman, he had an up-and-down debut season, but overall looked solid. He looks like a potential playmaker, who has to become a bit more reliable in coverage.

Inside linebacker Derek Wingo: It was a tough decision to take Wingo over Hopper, but I took Wingo as he can help out more against the run. Another former five-star, Wingo is ready to step into a bigger role and limit the weaknesses of Team Orange.

Wide receiver Jamarkis Weston: We haven’t seen anything out of him, so this is based solely on Dan Mullen’s comments about how good he is potentially going to be - and calling him the fastest receiver on the team about two weeks ago.

Wide receiver Daejon Reynolds: One of my favorite picks in the entire draft was Reynolds, as he is versatile at the wide receiver position. Reynolds is a big body guy with a crazy catch radius who also has breakaway speed even after a knee injury in his senior year of high school. Reynolds was a late-round value pick, adding even firepower to an already loaded Team Orange offense.

Linebacker Tyron Hopper: I couldn’t believe he was still here. Hopper is already an athletic freak, but as he has put on weight and strength he has become an all-around playmaker on defense. This may have been the best ‘value’ pick the Blue Team made all day.

Defensive end Princely Umaninelen: It was a toss-up to draft Elam over Carter, but I feel confident in Umaninelen’s abilities to fill the role that Carter would, so I opted for Elam instead. Umaninelen is ready to break out at defensive end, giving me a perfect backup plan, all while locking down the outside with Elam.

Cornerback Jordan Young: I’ll have to eat some crow when it comes to Young. As I stated in a write-up after signing day, I hadn’t seen him since summer of 2019, and I wasn't all that impressed at that point. Either I was way off, or in the 18 or so months since then, he has improved significantly. He has had a terrific spring camp.

Nickleback Mordecai McDaniel: Filling my STAR role is McDaniel, based on his pure speed and capability to play inside the tackle box. The former track star, McDaniel has unreal closing speed and should compete in coverage against Whittemore in the slot.

Right guard Griffin McDowell: He was listed as the top back-up to Gouraige at left guard last season but was relegated mostly to special teams. Entering his fourth season at Florida, he should be where he needs to be size and strength-wise to be a contributor this season.

Defensive tackle Antonio Valentino: With Florida having two transfers to fill in the defensive line, I opted to take Valentino as I drafted multiple positions before defensive tackle. Convinced by the depth at the defensive tackle position, I awaited the pick knowing some could fall to me late.

Nickleback Amari Burney: I know, I know - coverage hasn’t exactly been Burney’s strong suit, and I was tempted to go in another direction here, but with the advantage Team Blue has up-front, I’m not expecting Richardson to have all day to pick apart the secondary and Burney gives me a solid physical presence in run support.

Quarterback Anthony Richardson: I figured Team Blue would draft Emory Jones, which I content with knowing Richardson would be mine. Richardson is a budding star, one that I am confident in leading my team at the quarterback position.

Receiver Trent Whittemore: He got off to a solid start last year before suffering a shoulder injury. He’s a good athlete, and as importantly he has shown to have dependable hands.

Defensive tackle Jaelin Humphries: It came down to Desmond Watson or Humphries, but I opted to take Humphries due to his experience within the program, and that he is in better football shape as of right now. Humphries has had his ups and downs as a Gator, but I believe in his abilities to get the job done against an above-average Team Blue offensive line.

Tight end Nick Elksnis: Of the early enrollees, it has been Elksnis, Watson, and Young who have drawn the most praise to this point. As of today, Elksnis might be the best overall tight end on the roster. The loss of Arik Gilbert likely opened the door for him to have a big season.

Offensive guard Richie Leonard: Filling in as a guard, I took Leonard with the final pick of the draft to fill my last vacant offensive line spot. Leonard moves well for his size, bulldozing over defensive lineman that stands in his way, especially in the run game.

Running back Malik Davis: After Team Orange took Nay’Quan Wright in the first half of the draft, I was content to wait and take Dameon Pierce here at the end of the draft, thinking I would want a more bruising running style, but after seeing the Team Orange defensive line, I don't believe we’ll need that, so instead I wanted to add Davis because of his value in the passing game.


Class of 2020 Redshirt Report Series



QB Anthony Richardson Emory Jones
RB Nay’Quan Wright Malik Davis
WR Jacob Copeland Justin Shorter
WR Xzavier Henderson Ja’Markis Weston
WR Daejon Reynolds Trent Whittemore
LT TJ Moore Richard Gouraige
LG Ethan White Josh Braun
C Richie Leonard Kingsley Eguakun
RG Stewart Reese Griffin McDowell
RT Jean Delance Michael Tarquin
TE Kemore Gamble Nick Elksnis
DE Brenton Cox Khris Bogle
NG Antonio Valentino Daquan Newkirk
DT Jaelin Humphries Gervon Dexter
DE Princely Umanmielen

Zachary Carter

LB Derek Wingo Ventrell Miller
LB Mohamoud Diabate Tyron Hopper
NB Mordecai McDaniel Amari Burney
CB Kaiir Elam Jaydon Hill
CB Jason Marshall Jordan Young
S Trey Dean Rashad Torrence
S Donovan McMillon Tre’Vez Johnson

Donavon makes the case for Team Orange: With a young offensive core, Team Orange could find success with a balanced attack lead by quarterback Richardson. The redshirt freshman has plenty of playmakers surrounding him in Copeland, Reynolds, and Henderson, all of who can be big-play receivers with a balanced back in Wright out of the backfield. There is a concern in the offensive trenches, but both teams are relatively weak due to the lack of quality depth Florida has across its offensive line. While the offensive line is a glaring weakness for Team Orange, a quick passing attack with a mix of quarterback runs can throw off the loaded defensive line of Team Blue. One plus is the experience at the wide receiver position with Henderson and Copeland, one of which will be going one on one with true freshman Jordan Young. Across the board, Team Orange has a matchup advantage at receiver versus defensive back at each of the three spots, allowing the ball to move with ease.

The defense is one of the main strengths of Team Orange, as the unit is loaded with both promise and experience. The trenches could be better, but Valentino and Humphries should be able to hold their own against the Team Blue offensive line. With two edge threats in Umaninelen and Cox, the pass rush will have itself a day. The secondary is the best unit on Team Orange, built with a mindset that the pass rush will cause pressure while Elam and Marshall lock down their respective receivers on the outside. Dean and freshman stud McMillon will cause trouble on the backend. If Team Orange can stuff the run, there is no way Team Blue could move the ball.

Mark makes the case for Team Blue: I’m not sure if my young friend missed the mark entirely or is a diabolical genius. Obviously, the game isn't going to be played, so the outcome of who actually won is going to be based on a fan vote - meaning was his drafting hype over the actual reality of the situation a winning ploy? Take the secondary for example, where I will concede Team Orange got the overall best player in Elam. However, Marshall and McMillon - two players Team Orange took in the first half of the draft - are highly regarded prospects and could be two incredible players down the road, but by all accounts, Young has had the better camp. Look at tight end where Gamble is the projected starter, but again, by all accounts, Elksnis has had the better camp, and as bad as their offensive line looks, they need a tight end capable of blocking, and Gamble just admitted last week he still needs work in that area, whereas Elkins was just singled out as being a physical blocker.

All of that aside though, this game, like almost all SEC games, comes down to line play. How do those two key areas match-up is what is most important. As Urban Meyer said two weeks ago, you can’t scheme around a bad defensive line. The one common denominator among great teams is a great defensive line. Now, I’m not calling Team Blue’s defensive front great, but facing that Team Orange offensive line, I’m confident they would look great. Along those same lines, while the Team Blue offensive line isn’t exactly great (though it is better than the Team Orange offensive line) - they’ll more than hold their own - especially in the run game - against that Team Orange defensive line.

On the flip side, while I will concede that Team Orange knocked the ball out of the park drafting receivers, that is going to be mitigated by the fact that Richardson is going to be running for his life. 

I felt like I won each of the first three times Inside the Gators has done this feature, and this year is no different. However, I will concede that this is the closest match-up yet.




Inside the Gators - Orange & Blue Game Draft

1,068 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 24 days ago by Mark Wheeler
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What I learned from reading this is we don't have SEC caliber OL or DB this year.

When our freshmen and sophomores get experience we'll be okay at DB but we are in trouble long term on OL with bringing in players like Slaughter and the Jacksonville OL signee.
Mark Wheeler
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I did it on Twitter, but I need to do it here, I concede (this is harder than I thought) defeat.

I had better lines and thought that Jones would be that much better than Richardson, but the reports from the final scrimmage indicate otherwise.

So, I'm 3-1.
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