And then it comes down to guessing and hoping on draft day. The players at the combines are all about the next level, but there are things we learn from the combine list that give us an indication of what to look for in college football next season as well.
How's that? Well, look at it this way. The number of players from a school is a clear indication of the talent that team is losing from the 2007 roster. Therefore the more players you have at the combines, the more you lost and your team has to make up for. The fewer players you have in Indianapolis, the fewer holes you have to fill in your lineup. With that as a barometer, Gator fans and Georgia fans are probably feeling pretty good about '08.
Florida and Georgia have the fewest players in Indianapolis of any of the top teams from last season. The Gators have just two players, Derrick Harvey and Andre Caldwell auditioning for the NFL. Georgia has three; linebacker Marcus Howard and running backs Thomas Brown and Kregg Lumpkin. Georgia will miss Howard, for sure, but with Knowshon Moreno around Brown and Lumpkin would have been tourists.
Among other teams of note, National Champ LSU has eight players at the combine as does 2008 Gator opponent Arkansas. There are six Kentucky Wildcats and five Tennessee Vols up there, too. It may be somewhat surprising to learn that Florida State (4) and Miami (6) both lost significantly more talent in the NFL's eyes than the Gators did. Shoot, even Vanderbilt and Hawaii (4 each) sent more players to the combine than the Gators and Bulldogs did.
Obviously the number of NFL combine invitations is not the only measure of the talent a particular team is losing, but it is a pretty strong and independent one. The bottom line is that Florida lost significantly less talent than most of the teams on the 2008 football schedule. That doesn't guarantee anything, but it certainly fuels the fire of great expectations and Gainesville and Athens for the upcoming season.
Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel
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