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December 5, 2012
NFL Draft Preview: Breaking down the seniors
The incredible amount of talent that Urban Meyer and Will Muschamp have been stock piling at Florida over the last five years will begin making their way to the NFL en mass at the conclusion of the season.
Not only are seniors such as linebacker Jonathan Bostic and running back Mike Gillislee very likely to be drafted, but there could be several players who have eligibility remaining, tempted to make the leap to the next level as well.
Recently, both safety Matt Elam and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd have been slotted as first round picks on various Mock Drafts.
In order to sort through roughly where the seniors should be pegged to go and which underclassmen should or shouldn't make the jump, Inside the Gators decided to consult with CBS Sports NFL Draft expert Dane Brugler to get his thoughts on where the draft eligible Gators are slotted as well as their strengths and weaknesses.
Strengths: Physical tackler and hits the hole with power. Good football IQ to set the defense and follow the eyes of the QB, knocking down passes. Plays fast with controlled athleticism and flexibility. Takes accurate angles and closes well. Love the on-field intensity (just needs to control it).
Weaknesses: Too reactionary and needs to improve his anticipation. Tough hitter but needs to consistently wrap up and finish. Lacks elite strength to consistently shed. Needs to play smarter (unsportsmanlike penalty for barking over the ball carrier well after the whistle in the LSU game).
Strengths: Aggressive near the line of scrimmage and holds his own against bigger blockers. Quick read/react skills to beat the ball carrier to the ball. Very good speed and bend off the edge as a blitzer or in run support. Good tackling technique and pad level, getting low and wrapping.
Weaknesses: Streaky ball-skills and needs to do a better job playing the ball in the air. Inconsistent angles in the open-field and will struggle to finish in space. Needs to do a better job gaining body position in coverage and look for the ball. Battled tender right shoulder injury (missed part of Texas A&M game).
Strengths: Good bulk for the receiver position (est. 225-pounds) and is built more like a RB/FB. Accelerates quickly to top speed and has the wheels to create after the catch. Does a nice job locating, elevating and coming down with the tough catches. Versatile skill-set.
Weaknesses: Lacks a natural position - has done well at several spots, but hasn't excelled anywhere. Underwhelming production (20 catches as a senior). Average burst, not going to make a lot of defenders miss. Lacks experience as a returner on special teams.
Strengths: Very good momentum runner, always going forward and not slowing down in his cuts. Accelerates quickly and follows his blocks with very good vision. Flexible ankles and controlled balance to make explosive cuts, sticking his foot in the ground and maneuvering through the trash.
Weaknesses: Lacks prototypical size and build (est. 200-pounds) and has taken a physical beating this season. Has struggled to stay on the field with a lot of wear and tear this season (can he hold up in the NFL?). Will make some unnecessary moves behind the line of scrimmage at times.
Strengths: Experience rushing from both a two and three point stance. Brings a nonstop motor and workmanship attitude to the field. Fluid and shoots off the ball with natural bend and dip around the edge. Fast in pursuit and continues to work through blocks with violent hand use.
Weaknesses: Will bend too much around the edge and end up on the ground. Plays too fast at times and needs to do a better job breaking down on the move. Streaky awareness and needs to play better situational football, cutting down on the mental mistakes and penalties. Where is his best position?
Strengths: Natural in space with first round feet to mirror defenders. Very flexible and a natural bender, staying balanced in pass pro. Extends at the point of attack to jolt rushers, showing improvement with his blocking angles. Effortless puller with smooth hips and the mobility to block on the move.
Weaknesses: Plays light and lacks a great anchor, allowing rushers to bully him on his heels. Too many mental errors and penalties over his career (has improved, but not enough). Gets himself in trouble when he lunges and needs to stay patient. Dealt with a knee issue as a senior.
Strengths: Wide frame and good core strength. Eats up space and takes up a lot of room, plugging run lanes. Attacks gaps and does a nice job elevating to knock down passes at the line of scrimmage. Much improved awareness and has developed his eye use.
Weaknesses: Doesn't get much penetration and doesn't offer much as a pass rusher. Allows his pads to rise out of his stance and doesn't play with consistent leverage. Big body but doesn't offer the power expected. Limited range and doesn't make many plays away from the line of scrimmage.
Strengths: Smooth athlete with good speed and fluidity. Has some wiggle to make plays after the catch and force poor angles by defenders. Improved route runner and shows some savvy quickness out of his breaks. Gives excellent effort as a blocker on the perimeter.
Weaknesses: Smaller target and lacks great size for the position. Doesn't have much bulk and goes down too easily after initial contact. Had a few costly fumbles and drops and needs to do a better job taking care of the ball. Doesn't have much return experience on special teams (only eight career returns).
Note: I haven't done enough film study on James Wilson, Earl Okine and Caleb Sturgis to offer an opinion.
On Thursday, in Part II, Dane Brugler will offer his opinion on Florida's draft eligible juniors. Who should stay, who should go and why he feels that way.
Follow Brugler on Twitter (@dpbrugler)