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Florida mid-season NFL Draft preview

October 19, 2018
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With half of Florida's 2018 season complete Inside the Gators had an opportunity to speak with Jon Ledyard of The NFL Draft Network for an in-depth look at the talent the Gators have coming out, or potentially coming out, this season.

Florida only has 10 scholarship seniors overall, five of which are starters. According to Ledyard, none of those five are sure-fire top of the draft prospects. Where the Gators could potentially take the greatest hit talent wise is among those juniors who are eligible to declare early.

Q: What do you think of Florida's senior class as far as their draft prospects?

A: The only seniors I’ve seen are CeCe Jefferson (great motor and versatility, good first step, not really polished as rusher or very bendy), Khairi Clark (I’ve only seen a little, he’s looked more athletic than I expected) and Martez Ivey (Physical tools are all elite. Explosive out of his stance and can really move as a puller. Super stiff in the hips and struggles to mirror laterally. Feet are just not functional right now)."

Q: It's still somewhat early, but where do you see them projecting?

A: I think they’re all day-three (rounds 4-7)/UDFA (undrafted free-agent) guys.

Q: And you said you haven't broken down any of the tight ends, so we'll move on to the juniors.

Q: Florida's two draft eligible running backs - Jordan Scarlett and Lamical Perine - are performing better than most expected. What are your thoughts on them as NFL prospects at this point?

A: Perine and Scarlett look like day-three/UDFA to me, but I kind of like both of them. Perine is balanced, but without great traits. Scarlett is a violent player, but I don't know about him as receiver or his athletic ability.

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Q: If any of the Florida receivers are going to leave early, it would likely be Van Jefferson and/or Tyrie Cleveland. Thoughts on those two?

A: I haven’t scouted Cleveland. Jefferson is smart, aware of the sticks and knows what he’s doing as a route runner. He’s a tough, smart, possession guy. He's not an especially explosive or athletic receiver. No great traits, but athletic enough. He is probably a day-three guy who reminds me of Pierre Garcon without as much nastiness to his game.

Q: What are your thoughts on them potentially coming out early?

A: This year is a good, not great, wide receiver group. Jefferson should declare because I think he’s ready and he's not going be a super high pick whenever he declares anyway.

Q: Along the offensive line after exploding on to the scene as a freshman, Jawaan Taylor has evened out a bit. Dan Mullen commented on him this week saying he has only graded out in two of Florida's seven games. What are your thoughts on him?

A: Taylor looks better at right tackle than he did last year. He should probably stay because he could be a coveted guy if he keeps improving under the new coaching staff. Last year I thought he was late day-three pick at best.

Q: Moving on to the defensive line, the talk is Jachai Polite is all but certain to come out and then Jabari Zuniga is a candidate as well.

A: Of the two, Polite is definitely the better, more developed pass-rusher, but smaller, and not as good a run defender. He has burst, speed and bend. He is a first round type of player.

Q: What about Zuniga?

A: Zuniga is a better run defender, plays inside for Florida a lot. He has some crazy peak plays and size/athletic ability are crazy but as a rusher he’s pretty plain. I think he's a developmental guy coming, but he probably still could go on day-two.

Q: Florida has two draft eligible linebackers in Vosean Joseph and David Reese. Thoughts on them?

A: Joseph I’ve just seen live. He's fast and physical. He has safety size though. If he declares, he is probably valued like Dorian O’Daniel (third round to Kansas City) was last year. Reese is so big and slow. From what I’ve seen live he didn’t look draftable.

Q: That leaves Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, who is all but a given to declare early.

A: CGJ is a day-two, maybe even a second round cover talent. However, he is a day-three/UDFA when it comes to physicality, tackling, and effort at times. I’ve never seen a player embarrassed over the course of a season like he was last year. A couple times every game. But he’s sticky as hell in coverage. I think he’s a slot corner for a man heavy team. Tough to say where he’ll be valued. He needs to kill interviews. He’s too soft to go in round one, but if he keeps improving his tackling this season, he’ll go day-two I think.

Q: He isn't coming out as a sophomore, but what are your early thoughts on Feleipe Franks?

A: Franks isn’t a legit prospect to me. He's just a college guy with no NFL potential there.

Q: Why is that? His arm and size are there.

A: His accuracy, mental processing and decision making. And yeah, I'm not wild about his arm either. In my opinion, if Florida had a better option, I think they would be playing him. Mullen has gotten about everything possible out of Franks.

Q: You bring up his arm. He did have the longest throw (74-yards) at a camp full of top quarterbacks over the summer.

A: Almost all quarterbacks at this level can throw the ball far. Having a great arm is all about velocity. Velocity and distance are very different when evaluating arm strength.

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You can read in-depth reports on many of the players listed above at The NFL Draft Network

Florida mid-season NFL Draft preview

2,942 Views | 29 Replies | Last: 1 yr ago by Mark Wheeler
Go Gators TJ
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All the juniors should come back to spend another year with Savage getting bigger, stronger and faster.

They can only help their draft status.
Eric-UF
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Quote:

A: Almost all quarterbacks at this level can throw the ball far. Having a great arm is all about velocity. Velocity and distance are very different when evaluating arm strength.
Probably the most accurate response of all of the and something almost all fans do not understand!
1bigg8rindade
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That's harsh on Reese, Franks and Gardner-Johnson.

Reese is an old school player. He can play in the NFL.

I would be interested in knowing if he is judging CGJ by last year or this year? He is playing better under Grantham.

Let Franks develop for two more years before we decide if he can or can't make it in the NFL.
upstateg8tor
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Yeesh, that was harsh. We may have fewer leave early than expected. Im guessing right now Polite, Zuniga, CGJ and Van gone, with possibly Scarlett.
SORT14
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1bigg8rindade said:

That's harsh on Reese, Franks and Gardner-Johnson.

Reese is an old school player. He can play in the NFL.

I would be interested in knowing if he is judging CGJ by last year or this year? He is playing better under Grantham.

Let Franks develop for two more years before we decide if he can or can't make it in the NFL.
Honestly, I'd be surprised if Franks if starting at UF next year and really surprised if he is the year after that. E. J. Jones or Jones will take over IMO.
Eric-UF
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Agree Sort! Might have been harsh, but it is true. Gardner was a horrible tackler last year and Reese, while better than our other LB's is average at best (which is why we needs upgrades ASAP!).

I do not think we are going to lose very many to the NFL (early).
---Go Gators!
SORT14
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True Eric. I didn't really disagree with anything the scout said. It is in line with what we have seen and heard about those players so far.
KassidyHill
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Only one that really surprised me was Reese. He's slow out in coverage but stout in the middle against the run.
OrangeandBlue
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We don't have a NFL quarterback on our roster, but we don't need one to win. How many quarterbacks does Alabama have starting in the NFL?
Mark Wheeler
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Staff
The thing with Reese II is that he is an old school middle linebacker. 10-15 years ago he might have been a 1-3 round pick. However, the NFL is increasingly a passing league and while Reese II is great against the run, he is well below average defending the pass.

He is basically a one down linebacker in the NFL.

Hell, even Brandon Spikes can't get a job right now.
Mark Wheeler
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Staff
As far as Franks, he still has two years to develop and mature under Mullen before we write him off as an NFL prospect. Also keep in mind, it isn't like receivers or linemen where there are 25-30 drafted a year. There are normally 10-12-15 quarterbacks taken and you figure 2-3-4 are underclassmen declaring early.

So no, Franks isn't one of the top 10 sophomore quarterbacks in the nation.

But again, he has spent less than a year with Mullen and has improved by leaps and bounds. Who knows what happens over the next two years.
Sgun2.0
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Great interview! It always annoys me when posters overproject players thinking they'll go in the first. It's so ridiculously difficult to make the NFL but especially the first round.

This was a dose of reality.
Titletown
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That was worse than reality that was a big negative. I don't mind getting the truth but right now the team is rolling along great why throw water on our fire with a story like this?

What if Chauncey or CeCe see this and it makes them think that all they have worked for isn't going to get them a payday and shut it down.
SORT14
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Titletown said:

That was worse than reality that was a big negative. I don't mind getting the truth but right now the team is rolling along great why throw water on our fire with a story like this?

What if Chauncey or CeCe see this and it makes them think that all they have worked for isn't going to get them a payday and shut it down.
I doubt they are that fragile. Don't you think they get the same feedback from NFL scouting reports? Plus, it could have the opposite effect and make them realize they need to work that much harder.
Mark Wheeler
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Staff
First off, we are six months away from the draft, with games left to be played, the Combine and Pro Days left to be participated in, so things can and will change.

Also, it is just one person's opinion. He may be right, he may be wrong.

To be sure though, we don't go into something like this fishing for an outcome. I don't seek out someone with the hope or mandate that they give a positive review. We only ask that they give their honest opinion and let the chips fall where they may.
GatorDMD
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What this tells me is that we are winning more by coaching than talent and since we aren't losing many top players we'll be better next year.
1bigg8rindade
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GatorDMD said:

What this tells me is that we are winning more by coaching than talent and since we aren't losing many top players we'll be better next year.


What it tells me is I hate to admit it but he was right on Franks.
Dan the Man
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We are probably going to be 10-2 with only 1 player leaving that is going to be taken in the first 3 rounds. I read that to mean that we are going to be better next year.
OrangeandBlue
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I love Gardner's cockiness but he does need to back it up more. The first 2-3 games he looked like he was going to be all conference. He hasn't done anything all that great for us lately.
Mark Wheeler
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Staff
This is something to go back and read now that some of the players he mentioned are declaring.
Graylon
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CGJ soft?
Eric-UF
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Graylon said:

CGJ soft?


Keep in mind this was mostly based on results prior to the 2018 season and coming off the 2017 season when he led the team in missed tackles and got trucked almost every week.
UFgator52-20
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CGJ played soft some this year too.
Mark Wheeler
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Staff
UFgator52-20 said:

CGJ played soft some this year too.

Football is so damn violent that I wouldn't feel comfortable describing any young man's play as soft.

Gardner-Johnson definitely 'put his nose in there' more often this year than he did last year for sure, but there were a couple of instances where he didn't.

I remember at least one instance in a game thread where I deemed a tackle attempt as two-hand touch.

Overall though, I think he helped his draft stock this year, and without question was much more of a positive than a negative. He will be missed.
SwampMagic
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Taylor was a champion in 2 of the first 7 games and he goes pro? That doesn't make any sense.

Why didn't he come back and get better for another year and then go make more money?
Eric-UF
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SwampMagic said:

Taylor was a champion in 2 of the first 7 games and he goes pro? That doesn't make any sense.

Why didn't he come back and get better for another year and then go make more money?


Hard to get much better than a 1st round pick (early second).
UFgator52-20
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Mark Wheeler said:

UFgator52-20 said:

CGJ played soft some this year too.

Football is so damn violent that I wouldn't feel comfortable describing any young man's play as soft.

Gardner-Johnson definitely 'put his nose in there' more often this year than he did last year for sure, but there were a couple of instances where he didn't.

I remember at least one instance in a game thread where I deemed a tackle attempt as two-hand touch.

Overall though, I think he helped his draft stock this year, and without question was much more of a positive than a negative. He will be missed.


What do you mean you don't want to call players soft? You call him soft in the story.
Mark Wheeler
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Staff
UFgator52-20 said:

Mark Wheeler said:

UFgator52-20 said:

CGJ played soft some this year too.

Football is so damn violent that I wouldn't feel comfortable describing any young man's play as soft.

Gardner-Johnson definitely 'put his nose in there' more often this year than he did last year for sure, but there were a couple of instances where he didn't.

I remember at least one instance in a game thread where I deemed a tackle attempt as two-hand touch.

Overall though, I think he helped his draft stock this year, and without question was much more of a positive than a negative. He will be missed.


What do you mean you don't want to call players soft? You call him soft in the story.


Those are the draft analysts words, not mine.
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