Florida football's top 10 players


Quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett, left, and Jeff Driskel will be battling for the starting position through the summer. (Photo illustration by Jon McDonald)

Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 19, 2012 at 12:07 a.m.

Traditionally, a few days before the spring game every year the Florida football coaches hold a draft to determine the two teams in the Orange and Blue game. That hasn't happened the past two years because the format has been changed to pit the offense against the defense.

But the idea of a draft got us thinking. What if you were going to build a college team and your draft pool was the players on the Florida roster?

So, we decided to have some fun and do just that, hold a mock draft (feel free to do this at home, too).

Before we get to the top 10, the draft pool from which we're selecting does not include the players who are currently injured. If we included those guys, Ronald Powell would be our first pick and Dominique Easley and Marcus Roberson definitely would be in the top 10.

The draft:

1. Jacoby Brissett, QB: We agree with Will Muschamp that the SEC is a line of scrimmage league. But to have any chance of succeeding, you also have to have an impact player at quarterback. So, we're starting with a quarterback. Actually, just like in the NFL Draft next week, quarterbacks are going to be the first two picks. Brissett and Jeff Driskel are dead even, but Brissett is listed No. 1 simply because we're putting the QBs in alphabetical order. Brissett has a big arm, plays with tremendous poise and composure and has a considerable upside.

2. Jeff Driskel, QB: There's really no perceptible difference between the two QBs, other than the fact Driskel is more of a threat as a runner. He showed this spring that he has a good command of the offense and can make all the throws. Like Brissett, his potential is unlimited.

3. Jon Bostic, middle linebacker: A senior and team leader, Bostic has as much or more experience than anyone on the roster. He's much more comfortable now in his second season in coordinator Dan Quinn's defense and it showed this spring. He was flying around making plays all over the field. He appears to be more physical and gives the defense a formidable presence in the middle.

4. Jelani Jenkins, outside linebacker: After gaining almost 15 pounds of muscle in the weight room this winter, Jenkins looks like an NFL outside linebacker. He's always run like one and now he has the size to have more of an impact in run defense. With a strong junior season, he may be in another draft (the NFL Draft) a year from now.

5. Sharrif Floyd, defensive tackle/end: Now, we're getting into Muschamp territory with this pick. Whether he plays end or tackle, Floyd has the size, strength and athletic ability to be a dominant defensive lineman. Always strong against the run, he improved his pass rush this spring and is now more of a complete player. He's another possible candidate to leave early for the NFL.

6. Matt Elam, safety: Even though he sat out the spring game with a groin injury, there's no question he's one of the Gators' best defensive players. Coming off a strong sophomore season, Elam worked on improving his tackling and becoming a more physical player this spring. He's a very instinctive safety who also can cover wide receivers man-to-man. Every secondary needs a guy like this.

7. Loucheiz Purifoy, cornerback: Every secondary needs a guy like this, too — a big, fast, athletic player who has the ability to be a lock-down corner in man-to-man coverage. He really came on strong in the second half of last season and has continued to make progress and play with more confidence. His name should be popping up on all-star lists next fall.

8. Mike Gillislee, tailback: This senior finally had a chance to show what he could do this spring and he impressed everybody with his strong, slashing running style. If, and it's a pretty big if, he can stay healthy, he has a chance to become the downhill runner the Gators have been looking for, and an every-down back.

9. Latroy Pittman, wide receiver: He's only a true freshman who still has a great deal to learn, but like the two quarterbacks, we're drafting him on potential — which he showed a great deal of in the spring. The Gators are desperate to add a dynamic playmaker at wide receiver, and this kid showed he has the ability to be that kind of player. It should be fun watching him develop over the course of the 2012 season.

10. Xavier Nixon, offensive tackle: As a true sophomore in 2010, Nixon looked like he was well on his way to becoming a dominant player at left tackle. Due to some health issues, though, Nixon took a step backward last season and really struggled to hold his own, especially against quicker outside pass rushers. He's healthy again — and noticeably bigger and stronger, especially in his lower body — and had the look of a dominant left tackle in the spring. He'll protect the blind side of UF's two young quarterbacks.

Here's our second 10: Tight end Jordan Reed, wide receiver Quinton Dunbar, offensive guard Jon Halapio, fullback Trey Burton, wide receiver Frankie Hammond Jr., defensive tackle Omar Hunter, offensive tackle Matt Patchan, safety Josh Evans, fullback Hunter Joyer and offensive guard James Wilson.

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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