Florida NFL Draft Preview: Offense

D.J. Humphries knew he was going against what the NFL told him to do when he elected to leave school early.

It looks like it paid off.

After putting in his paperwork, the NFL Draft advisory board encouraged Humphries to return for his senior year at Florida. It wasn’t what he wanted or expected. When Florida’s Birmingham Bowl win was over, Humphries thought it over and talked to family members to make sure that he wanted to leave early.

Instead of listening to the NFL’s advice, Humphries decided to use it as motivation. He decided to leave school early, bulking up to answer any questions about his weight. He measured in at the NFL combine and the Florida pro day at 307 pounds. The more NFL teams were able to see his film plus the added weight, the more D.J. Humphries started to fly up draft boards.

Thursday night he’ll experience the rewards.

The former Florida offensive tackle is expected to be a first round pick on Thursday night in Chicago. The NFL Draft begins at 8 p.m. and is televised by ESPN and NFL Network. There are a lot of teams looking for offensive line help in the second half of the draft order, meaning Humphries could get picked by an immediate contender.

The most interesting pick is Carolina at No. 25. Humphries grew up in North Carolina and admitted at his pro day that he would love to be back near his home while playing for the Panthers, who desperately need help on the offensive line.

Despite Florida’s offensive issues in recent years, Humphries won’t be the only player from that side of the ball drafted.

Florida has a chance to see at least three former offensive linemen drafted. Guard Trenton Brown, center Max Garcia and lineman Chaz Green could all hear their names called in the later rounds over the weekend, and Tyler Moore could also be picked or signed as an undrafted free agent.

Measuring in at 6-8, 355 pounds, Brown’s size makes him an intriguing prospect for NFL teams. They were impressed with his ability to move during pro day, and the size is a big deal against strong NFL defensive linemen. Garcia handled the center position well in his first year playing it for Florida and has the athleticism to snap the ball and pull on run plays. Green proved valuable in his five years for Florida, playing guard and tackle.

Running back Matt Jones ran for 817 yards last season, but his most attractive NFL attribute could be his ability to catch the ball. The junior showed soft hands out of the backfield and could fit into an h-back role in the NFL with his size. He could make sense as a third-down back that gets selected late in a draft loaded at the running back position.

The receiver position provides two intriguing prospects in Andre Debose and Quinton Dunbar. Debose could garner interest as an undrafted free agent for his return abilities. Dunbar’s sub-4.4 speed could intrigue teams even though his production never matched the speed at Florida.

Other players that could sign as undrafted free agents are running back Mack Brown, tight end Clay Burton and tight end Tevin Westbrook. Fullback Hunter Joyer tore his ACL training and had surgery earlier this month.

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