The first of three days of the NFL Draft begins today. Here are projections for nine Gators and two guys who began their careers as Gators:
Vernon Hargreaves III, CB: He’s going in the first round. The only questions are does he go at #9 to the Tampa Bay Bucs or does he slide down to #13 to the Miami Dolphins or slide down perhaps to 18 or lower because he is only 5-10 and has what scouts deem to be short arms?
Keanu Neal, S: There are some mock drafts that have him sliding late into the first round (CBSSports.com has him going #29 to the Arizona Cardinals). It’s more likely that he goes in the first 15 picks of the second round.
Jonathan Bullard, DT/DE: As a tackle he’s quick but maybe too small. As a defensive end, he’s strong enough but maybe not quick enough. If he were a 300-pounder or a couple inches taller he would be a first rounder. More likely he goes in the second half of the second round or the first 10 picks of the third round.
Antonio Morrison, LB: He is going to be somebody’s bargain. He’s very likely to go fifth or sixth round because of (a) his injury history and (b) not so great combine numbers. Forget the combine. He moves well in traffic, doesn’t get picked off by blockers and he makes tackles. He will have a long NFL career if he stays healthy.
Kelvin Taylor, RB: Speed, or lack of, will relegate him to sixth or seventh round. Scouts question if he can take the pounding between the tackles and block well enough to be an every down player. If he ran a 4.5 he would be a second day guy. He might drop down to the sixth round because he runs a 4.6 or higher every time he’s timed.
Jake McGee, TE: He will get drafted because he’s got great hands. He’s a sixth or seventh rounder who would go higher if he ran a 4.7 or better (best time was 4.78) and he blocked better when he’s in a 3-point stance.
Alex McCalister, DE: A history of suspensions and injuries along with a lack of weight (239 on pro day) will relegate him to the sixth or seventh round. He’s athletic enough to get drafted but if he were 260 he would go no worse than third round even with his injury and suspension history.
Demarcus Robinson, WR: Second round talent. Free agent head. That’s the word on Robinson. He ran a 4.59 at UF’s pro day so he’s got adequate speed and very good size. His lack of strength (only 9 reps at 225) and his lack of personal discipline will cost him millions. He’ll get drafted but it will be after the fifth round.
Brian Poole, CB/S: Because he can play safety, corner or nickel, plus has special teams qualifications, he will either get drafted late or be somebody’s priority free agent. The questions about him are that he doesn’t have real cornerback speed and got lost in coverage too much as a collegian.
Former Gators to watch:
Jacoby Brissettt, QB: His draft stock has been moving up and he could go as high the first 15 picks of the third round. Scouts love his size and arm strength but wish he got rid of the ball quicker and made better reads when the blitz is coming. He won’t have to start so someone will give him a chance to develop.
Jeff Driskel, QB: Scouts love his athletic ability and the way he can make plays with his feet. They don’t like his lack of accuracy with the long ball – either underthrows or overthrows. He’s going to have to shake the happy feet label. He will get drafted but probably in the last two rounds.
HOW MEL KIPER RATES EACH POSITION
This is Mel Kiper’s top three at each position plus where he rates Gators and others from the state of Florida.
1. Jared Goff, California; 2. Carson Wentz, North Dakota State; 3. Connor Cook, Michigan State; 4. Paxton Lynch, Memphis (from Daytona Beach); 6. Jacoby Brissett, North Carolina State (former Gator); 8. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State; 10. Jeff Driskel, Louisiana Tech (former Gator); 18. Jake Coker, Alabama (formerly FSU); 31. Everett Golson, Florida State; 33. Phillip Ely, Toledo (from Tampa Plant)
1. Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State; 2. Derrick Henry, Alabama; 3. Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech; 15. Kelvin Taylor, Florida
1. Dan Vitale, Northwestern; 2. Glenn Gronkowski, Kansas State; 3. Derek Watt, Wisconsin
1. Josh Doctson, TCU; Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss; Corey Coleman, Baylor; 32. Demarcus Robinson, Florida; 50. Andy Jones, Jacksonville; 58. Rashawn Scott, Miami
1. Jerrell Adams, South Carolina; 2. Hunter Henry, Arkansas; 3. Austin Hooper, Stanford; 9. Jake McGee, Florida; 22. Sean Price, South Florida; 31. Gabe Hughes, Florida Tech
1. Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss; 2. Jack Conklin, Michigan State; 3. Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame
1. Cody Whitehair, Kansas State; 2. Joshua Garnett, Stanford; 3. Christian Westerman, Arizona State
1. Ryan Kelly, Alabama; 2. Nick Martin, Notre Dame; 3. Max Tuerk, Southern Cal
1. Joey Bosa, Ohio State; 2. DeForest Buckner, Oregon; 3. Shaq Lawson, Clemson; 11. Jonathan Bullard, Florida; 23. Alex McCalister, Florida; 45. Giorgio Newberry, Florida State; 51. Mike Wakefield, Florida International
1. A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama; 2. Jarran Reed, Alabama; 3. Kenny Clark, UCLA; 4. Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss; 28. Nile Lawrence-Stample, Florida State
1. Myles Jack, UCLA; 2. Reggie Ragland, Alabama; 3. Kentrell Brothers, Missouri; 12. Antonio Morrison, Florida; 20. Raphael Kirby, Miami
1. Leonard Floyd, Georgia; 2. Darron Lee, Ohio State; 3. Kamalei Correa, Boise State; 17. Terrance Smith, Florida State; 30. Reggie Northrup, Florida State; 32. Curt Maggitt, Tennessee (from Palm Beach Dwyer); 41. Akil Blount, Florida A&M
1. Jalen Ramsey, Florida State; 2. Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida; 3. William Jackson III, Houston; 40. Brian Poole, Florida; 55. Richard Leonard, Florida International
1. Karl Joseph, West Virginia; 2. Vonn Bell, Ohio State; 3. Keanu Neal, Florida; 15. Deon Bush, Miami; 34. Lamarcus Brutus, Florida State; 41. Jamie Byrd, South Florida; 55. Dallas Crawford, Miami
1. Roberto Aguayo, Florida State; 2. Brad Craddock, Maryland; 3. Zach Matics, Appalachian State
1. Drew Kaser, Texas A&M; Riley Dixon, Syracuse; Eric Enderson, Delaware; 6. Cason Beatty, Florida State; 14. Mattias Ciabatti, South Florida
1. Jeff Oberbaugh, San Diego State; 2. Jimmy Landes, Baylor; 3. Reed Miller, Stanford
RANKING THE BEST FOOTBALL COACHING JOBS IN THE SEC
It’s more than just coaching and having the biggest stadium. There are a whole host of factors that determine the best football coaching jobs in the Southeastern Conference. Yesterday, stadiums were rated and today, non-stadium football facilities. Again we score 14 for the top spot, 13-12, etc. Also previously rated were winning (since 1990), tradition (emphasis on championships) and coaching.
Tomorrow, we rate recruiting (who does the best job and why); and Friday we rate intangibles (weather, location and other advantages).
Since there are 14 teams in the SEC, we’ll score 14 points for first place in any category, 13 for second and all the way down to 1 point for finishing last. Save your choices and score along. When we’ve gone through all seven categories, we’ll compare scores.
1. Alabama: Other than the Dallas Cowboys, Alabama probably has the best football facilities pro or college in the country. Certainly, they are the best college facilities in the country and the best in the Southeastern Conference. Alabama has three natural grass practice fields and an artificial turf field. Then there is the indoor practice facility, which is huge and again, state of the art. The weight training center is enormous.
2. Arkansas: The Jerry and Gene Jones Student Athletic Success Center is the best academic center in the SEC. The rest of the facilities are right behind those of Alabama. The Fred Smith Center, which houses the football offices, is outstanding and the Walker Family Training Center has a spectacular weight training facility and the indoor practice field. There are two outdoor practice fields plus a parking deck for athletes, coaches and football employees.
3. LSU: The only thing that keeps LSU out of the top two is the age of some of the facilities such as the indoor practice facility. It’s enormous but it’s one of the oldest in the SEC. There are three natural grass practice fields and one artificial turf field. The football only weight room is huge and the Cox Communications Center has a computer lab to be envied by everybody else in college athletics.
4. Texas A&M: The Bright Football Complex has added another 36,000 square feet plus $16.8 million was spent to upgrade the locker room and team areas. The training facilities are first rate. The McFerrin Athletic Center is very large, but it’s outdated even though it’s less than 10 years old. That will be addressed soon. The Nye Academic Center in the Bright Complex is one of the best in all of college sports. There are two outdoor practice fields.
5. Tennessee: A big money gift from Jimmy Haslam, the billionaire owner of the Cleveland Browns and a former UT football player, created a serious upgrade for the practice facilities, which include three natural grass fields outdoor to complement one of the better indoor facilities in the SEC. The Anderson Training Center has training and dining facilities along with a 22,000-square foot weight room.
6. Auburn: Auburn is upgrading everywhere. There is a new academic center, new dorms and a 24-hour wellness kitchen. The Watson Fieldhouse has undergone renovations to the weight room and includes 10,000 square feet of warmup and conditioning. Auburn has an indoor practice facility, one full-length outdoor practice field and a 90-yard practice field.
7. South Carolina: There is a brand new indoor facility that’s one of the largest in the SEC and 2 full outdoor practice fields. There is a stand-alone football building which includes weight and training facilities. The academic and nutrition center is outstanding.
8. Ole Miss: The Manning Center isn’t that old but it’s already been renovated. It houses a football only weight room and an indoor facility that has a track. There are two natural grass outdoor practice fields and an outstanding academic support center.
9. Kentucky: The new football training facility is a 98,000 square foot building scheduled to open up this summer and will include dining, nutrition, health care, training facilities, football only weight room and even a barber shop. There are two outdoor grass practice fields and an artificial surface field. The indoor practice facility also includes a track for indoor track and field competitions.
10. Mississippi State: The recently opened Leo Seal Jr. Football Complex brought Mississippi State into the 21st century. The 80,000 square foot building houses an outstanding strength and conditioning facility and football offices, locker rooms, and training rooms. The Palmeiro Center was expanded so there is a full size indoor football field. There are three grass practice fields outdoors.
11. FLORIDA: The addition of the indoor practice facility left Georgia as the only program without one in the SEC, but it came at a cost. Now there is only one full size outdoor grass practice field and a 70-yard artificial field. The new academic center will help things when it’s opened but the Griffin-Oakley Strength and Conditioning Complex is undersized and needs upgrades. Dorm issues have been and continue to be upgraded.
12. Georgia: Georgia will only be at this level for another year. When the new indoor practice facility – it’s huge – opens up, complete with other bells and whistles, Georgia will move to the upper half of the SEC. For now, however, Georgia sits near the bottom. Dorms, dining hall and academic facilities are upper half of the league.
13. Missouri: In most leagues, Missouri’s facilities would be upper level. In the SEC, they’re trying to catch up with everybody else. They need a new indoor facility but at the insistence of former head coach Gary Pinkel, the money was spent on a new football complex that will open in another year or so. The total Person Program houses academics and tutoring. Cuirrently the Mizzou Athletics Training Complex houses the weight room, dining facility and training facilities that are shared with the other athletic programs.
14. Vanderbilt: The indoor practice facility is nice and they have two full size grass practice fields outdoors. The weight room is average and shared with all the other sports.
Points through five categories:
1. Alabama, 68
2. LSU, 62.5
3. FLORIDA, 48.5
4. Texas A&M, 45.5
5. (Tie) Tennessee, 45
5. (Tie) Auburn, 45
7. Ole Miss, 42
8. Arkansas, 37.5
9. Georgia, 35
10. Mississippi State, 33.5?
11. South Carolina, 27?
12. Kentucky, 17.5
13. Missouri, 12?
14. Vanderbilt, 10
A group of Denver Broncos fans have begun a petition to bring back Tim Tebow. So far, more than 3,000 have signed on. Don’t count on Tebow making a triumphant return to the NFL.
Miami’s season opener with Florida A&M is probably going to be moved since renovations to Sun Life Stadium are described by the Miami Herald as “significantly behind schedule.” The Hurricanes are likely to re-schedule the game for either Orlando or Tampa.
Idaho, which was once a powerhouse in Division IAA, is dropping out of Division I to return to its Big Sky Conference and Division IAA roots. It’s a smart move for Idaho, which ran up incredible travel costs trying to play in the Sun Belt Conference.
Bill Snyder, the HBC at Kansas State and the oldest coach in Division I at 77, says he isn’t going anywhere. Frank Solich of Ohio University is the only Division I coach who’s within 10 years of Snyder’s 77 years.
The Atlanta Braves have a real shot at 110 losses this year. The Braves have gone full circle. They’re back to being the worst team in baseball just like they were in the 1970s and 1980s.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
There is no question Demarcus Robinson has NFL talent, but if you are a general manager would you risk a draft choice on him?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
If this were simply music I can’t stand week, then Michael Bolton would have already been featured, but I wouldn’t wish him on my enemies. Since this is just music I can do without week, then Aerosmith will do. I know a lot of folks like them but Stephen Tyler just never did it for me. Today’s music is their 1993 album “Get a Grip.”