Four more Gators selected on third day of NFL Draft

The Florida Gators finished with a fine NFL Draft weekend on Saturday as four more Gators had their names called to play for NFL teams. Linebacker Antonio Morrison, receiver Demarcus Robinson, running back Kelvin Taylor, and defensive end Alex McCalister will now have new places to call home after their big day on Saturday.

After an exciting first day where junior cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III (#11) and junior safety Keanu Neal (#17) both went in the first 20 picks and then senior defensive end Jonathan Bullard went in the third round, the Gators saw three more juniors and a senior make the grade in the fourth through seventh rounds.

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 The first to go on Saturday was Antonio Morrison who was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the 4th round and the 125th pick overall. Morrison was as productive as you can get, especially considering that many thought he would never play as a senior after badly injuring his leg in the bowl game to close out the 2014 season.

All Morrison did was lead the Florida team in tackles (103) as a senior. He was a Butkus Award semi-finalist and a unanimous First Team All-SEC selection at linebacker. He finished with 101 tackles as a junior and was a Second Team All-SEC selection in 2014.

Morrison is a hard-hitting linebacker who is able to sift through blocks and if there is a liability it would be his lateral quickness, especially since the injury. Still, he has big time leadership qualities and understands the game better than most. He is a guy that can play for a long time in the league if he stays healthy.

 

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 Maybe a surprise was the very next pick, the Kansas City Chiefs chose junior receiver Demarcus Robinson in the 4th round, pick #126. There is no denying the talent that Robinson has. He has turned in some nice performances over his three years on the field, but questions about his off-the-field issues had many thinking he would be bypassed.

The Chiefs thought otherwise taking him in the fourth and have him joining former gator receiver Frankie Hammond on the roster. After starting 11 of 12 games as a sophomore and notching 53 catches for 810 yards and seven touchdowns, Robinson saw his numbers drop in 2015 with just nine starts, 49 catches and 522 yards.

Still, the Gators had their issues at quarterback in both seasons and the production cannot all be pinned on him. The talent is quite evident as he displayed against Kentucky in 2014, when he hauled in 15 catches for 216 yards, showing every move in the book to make plays. If he keeps his head straight off-the-field, he also has a chance to make it a long time in the league.

 

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 No surprise at being drafted, running back Kelvin Taylor did everything he could as a junior to lead Florida to victory. The San Francisco 49ers saw enough of Taylor to take him in the sixth round, and what they have is maybe the hardest worker on their football team.

That is what Taylor brought to the fold for Florida. He wasn’t the long ball guy, the back that can score easily from 40+ yards. He is always going to get you those tough yards and he won’t give up the ball. Taylor carried the ball a whopping 486 times in his college career and not once did he fumble the ball.

After playing behind Washington Redskins star Matt Jones for two years and hitting the 500 yard mark in both his freshman and sophomore seasons, Taylor amassed 1,035 yards as a senior and is only the second Gator running back to run for over 1,000 yards since the end of the 2004 season.

Playing behind a make-shift and extremely young offensive line, Taylor showed his durability and willing to give it all up for his team day in and day out after never missing a game to injury despite the load he had to carry. The 49ers are getting a very dependable player with their sixth round selection.

 

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 You had to know after his workouts at the NFL Scouting Combine that junior defensive end Alex McCalister would get picked in the draft. It took till the final round, but the Philadelphia Eagles made their move for the fastest guy off the edge in the entire draft.

After showing up at Indianapolis as the top performer among defensive linemen in the broad jump, the 3-cone drill, and the 20-yard shuttle McCalister all of a sudden was a house hold name.

His collegiate stats are no joke, especially when you figure that he was more of a specialist and not an every down guy. If the Eagles can figure out how to bulk him up and keep most of his quickness, they could have more of a productive pass rusher with almost limitless potential.

As a junior McCalister finished second on the Gators with 6.0 sacks and as a senior he tied for the team lead with 6.5 sacks. Missing games both from injury and suspension in both years, his productivity for the amount of time on the field is pretty of the charts.

He’s not a bad person but broke team rules and that will have to be managed. More importantly here is keeping him healthy and slowly adding more weight and muscle to a track guy that likes to hurt quarterbacks. The Eagles could have gotten a real steal here with McCalister.

In all, it was a productive year for the Gators in terms of giving up talent to the NFL via the draft. With seven players drafted, an obscene five of them left school early to earn a living. Mo doubt the group will be missed in 2016, but making their mark in the league is something that certainly helps all parties.


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