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Expert Opinion: Class of 2017 Signee Film Breakdown IV

Though the Letters of Intent have been signed and faxed in, Inside the Gators isn't quite ready to move on from the class of 2017 just yet.

Today, in order give a more complete look at the Florida signees, NFL Network, NFL Films analyst Matt Hamilton shares his expert opinion on Florida's signing class.

All evaluations were based solely off each player's Rivals.com highlight film. Scouts usually need at least three full game tapes of a player to get a full evaluation of his skill set, strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies. More so, scouts prefer the tapes not to be from consecutive games. Highlight tapes only show off a few physical traits and some tendencies as far as technique is concerned, making it hard to get an overall assessment of where a player truly stands. By it's very nature, it shows the prospect at his best and will lead to a more positive review than if you were to see an entire game tape.

It is also important to keep in mind things like practice habits,health status and character go a long way in determining recruits' future success.

Having said that, here is what I observed from watching their highlight tapes:

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* All 10 of our Class of 2017 Signing Class Reviews

* Anonymous Player: Looking at those who have left

* Anonymous Player: Tidbits on the 2016 signees

* Anonymous Player: Breaking down the offense, playcalling

* Anonymous Player: Taking a closer look at the quarterbacks

* Anonymous Player: Florida football behind the scenes

* TOTAL ACCESS: 30 DAY FREE TRIAL

* Redshirt Report: Brett Heggie

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* Cornerback Marco Wilson - Wilson looks smaller than his listed 6-foot, 185-pounds, but is a talented athlete and makes up for his lack of size with his physical play. Has excellent feet and hips, can turn and run with just about anyone and isn't afraid to put his hands on opposing receivers. Fluid in his backpedal. Excellent in man coverage. Looks less comfortable in zone and can get caught peeking in the backfield at times, but will make some plays regardless as a result. Very good top-end speed and change of direction. Is an average tackler, won't come up and make a ton of plays but is sound as the last line of defense. Overall, Wilson is an excellent prospect with tons of upside and should be able to play on the slot or on the outside.


* Cornerback C.J. Henderson - Henderson is a raw cornerback prospect with excellent speed and a high upside. Not a ton of tape on him actually playing corner, but as evidenced by his 1-on-1 camp footage, he still has plenty of work to do on his backpedal and technique. Has very good acceleration, hips, and feet. Displays good change of direction and hands. Has good length and plays the ball well in the air. Didn't see any tape of him tackling. He is an explosive athlete and can potentially contribute as a returner. Overall, Henderson will benefit by being able to focus exclusively on playing cornerback and has all of the physical tools to be an excellent cover corner at the college level, but will need some time and refinement.


* Defensive Back Shawn Davis - Davis is a ballhawking defensive back prospect who can play free safety or corner. He has excellent ball skills, hands, and range and forces a lot of turnovers as a result. Has good change of direction, which helps him not only break on the ball but also step up and lay some big hits on receivers. Has good speed, acceleration, hips, and feet. Is physical, excellent in press coverage, a sound tackler, and intimidating hitter. As a corner, he is at his best in zone, showing tremendous awareness and route recognition, often baiting opposing quarterbacks into making dangerous throws. In man, he's better when he's pressing, not quite as comfortable playing off. Overall, he certainly seems more comfortable at corner, that's where his instincts really shine. Has the traits to play safety, but will need to hone his skills and get more acclimated to play there at the next level.


* Defensive Back Brian Edwards - Edwards is a long, physical defensive back who played mostly cornerback in high school but can play safety at the next level as well. Has excellent feet, hips, and good top end speed and change of direction. His long arms and height make him an asset as a corner, he is able to jam and impose his will on smaller receivers, while having the feet and athleticism to stay with them when he plays off as well. As he continues to grow and hit the weight room, safety might ultimately be the best spot for him. Is a sound tackler with good size, but would likely need some time to adjust to a new position. Overall, wherever he ends up playing, Edwards has exceptional physical traits and should be a big contributor to the Gators' secondary in a few years.


* Safety Brad Stewart - Stewart is a dynamic safety prospect who has excellent speed and range. He is superb in coverage, with very good feet, hips, and change of direction. Can play man and zone with equal effectiveness and has good instincts. Is an excellent tackler and will lay some big hits. Plays aggressively and swarms to the football. Could see him playing strong or free safety depending on how he develops physically. Has good size and strength, can play in the box and stop the run, but will need to get a bit stronger to do so at the college level. Plays the ball well in the air, has good hands and is an explosive athlete. Is also a tremendous special teams player, can contribute right away there if needed. Overall, Stewart is a fantastic prospect who should star in the Gators secondary once he gets himself acclimated.


* Safety Donovan Stiner - Stiner is an intriguing strong safety prospect with good size and strength. An excellent tackler, is phenomenal in run support. Can play in the box seamlessly, take on blocks, and lay some big hits. Has good instincts in coverage as well. Can man up tight ends, has good feet, hips, and change of direction. Excels in zone coverage, reads the quarterback well and has good range. Displays good ball skills, will make big plays. Has good pursuit speed, rallies to the ball. Still needs to refine his technique, but has very good physical traits that project well. Overall, Stiner has good versatility, can do everything you need a strong safety to do, and has the ceiling to turn into a huge piece of the Gators' defense in a few years.


* Final Thoughts: Jim McElwain and Company have assembled a deep, well-rounded class that should serve as the foundation for success for years to come. They may not have landed a marquee name relative to Alabama or Florida State, but these are the types of classes that you build a program off of. Not to mention they did add players like Daquon Green, Brad Stewart, and Kadeem Telfort who have the potential to turn into those type of stars. Whenever you can assemble a class that addresses every positional need it is a win, but doing so with so many high level athletes gives this class the potential to be a home run. The overall perception of this group may be tied to the development and success of the quarterbacks when we look back at it in five years, but either way, it is hard to look at the 2017 class as anything but a major positive for McElwain and his staff.

Matt Hamilton was a former student assistant for the quarterbacks at Missouri, coach at the high school level in Connecticut, intern scout for the Detroit Lions and currently works at NFL Films breaking down film for use on the show Good Morning Football and Playbook on NFL Network.

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* Breakdown - Running game signees

* Breakdown - Passing game signees

* Breakdown - Defensive front seven

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Brian Edwards
Brian Edwards (Rivals.com)