Meyer's Gators Making NFL Splash

Urban Meyer finally has his first full class of Gators that are heading to the NFL draft and combine, and his group has done it with a splash. Ten Gators from the 2009 squad that went 13-1 and finished third in the country will participate in this week's NFL combine. Some are expected to make huge gains at the combine and are hoping to help themselves.

The Gators very well could have a banner draft in April. As many as eight of the 10 Gators are expected to go in the first half of the draft. For them to do that, they will need to have a good combine this week in Indianapolis, Ind.

The most likely top Gator picked is cornerback Joe Haden who had an all-American junior season. Haden should be a combine warrior with his exceptional speed and strength for the cornerback position. Most mock drafts have Haden taken in the top 10 picks.

Next on the docket should be defensive end Carlos Dunlap. Dunlap led all Gators in sacks in 2009 and was second on the team in pass breakups deflecting six passes. Dunlap has some character questions stemming from a singular DUI incident, and the combine is where he can make up the most ground with his draft status. Dunlap should turn heads with his sub 4.7 speed in the 40 yard dash, especially weighing in at over 280 pounds and standing 6-6 with his very long arms.

Another Gator who could do wonders for himself this week is linebacker Brandon Spikes. The only thing the NFL folks are worried about with Spikes is how fast he runs and if he turns in a decent 40 time this week, things should go well for him. He has all the other tools in size and strength, great lateral movement, and awareness.

Tim Tebow won't be throwing at the combine this week, but the Gators' favorite hero should be able to put up impressive combine numbers elsewhere. He will run with the best of them and at 235 pounds, will be one of the biggest quarterbacks. He should also fare well in the weightlifting area. What these numbers will do for him as a quarterback remains to be seen.

Receiver Riley Cooper should also benefit from the combine. He will be one of the taller receivers and also should surprise folks with his speed. Cooper also brings excellent strength and that should be on display at the combine. He has helped himself a great deal all during his senior season and at the senior bowl. Now, he should be able to help himself more at the combine with his great athleticism.

Tight end Aaron Hernandez won the Mackey Award for the nation's best tight end in 2009 and measured in slightly over 6-2 at the combine and that should be good enough with his other physical attributes to place him high on some draft boards. Look for him to run well at the combine and show excellent agility in the other drills they will work on at the combine. His versatility should help him in Indianapolis.

Center Maurkice Pouncey was labeled tops in the nation at his position in 2009 winning the Rimington Trophy. Pouncey has a chance to surprise the NFL folks in Indianapolis with his overall power, his quickness, and speed. There is a reason that Pouncey has started every game he was healthy since his freshman campaign and that is because of his exceptional physical abilities and the way he translates that to the field of play.

Defensive end Jermaine Cunningham was a solidly productive player at Florida for three years. His speed will be the big test for him at the combine. He isn't slow by any stretch, but if he runs well, look for his draft status to rise in April. He can really help himself move to higher in the first day of the draft in my opinion.

Athlete Brandon James should run well, and I'm not sure what this combine can really do for him. His limitations as a football player are all in his height and that is nothing he can change one way or another. He needs to really blow everyone away with combine numbers to let this particular venue help him.

Safety Major Wright will move way up the draft board in April if he turns in a good 40 time. No one really knows what to expect from Wright in regards to his speed, so surprising here will do wonders for the sure tackler and instinctual safety.

It should be an exciting few days for these Gators at the combine in Indianapolis as they look to improve their stock for the upcoming NFL draft.


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