Kiper gives Gators high marks
Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 5:29 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 5:29 p.m.
Three of the four Florida juniors who declared for the NFL Draft made the right call, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said Wednesday. The one who didn't, he said, is outside linebacker Jelani Jenkins.
“Jenkins coming out. … I would have stayed another year and put together a full healthy year that shows what he's capable of,” Kiper said on an ESPN draft teleconference Wednesday. “He could have been a second-round pick (if he'd done that this season). Now, it's the third or even fifth round (for Jenkins).
“With the injuries, I'm surprised he came out. (By coming back) he could have put together a great year and stayed at 100 percent and gone through the process. He could have upgraded over where he is. But if you're a third- or fourth-round pick and can play, you're going to be fine.
“He could have gone a little higher by going back (to UF for his senior season). He is the only (UF junior coming out) I would say I can find fault with.”
Kiper said he has no problem with the other three Gators leaving early — defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, safety Matt Elam and tight end Jordan Reed.
Kiper projects Floyd to go in the first round (to San Francisco with the 30th pick), Elam to go in the early to mid-second round and Reed to be taken possibly as high as the second round.
“I like Floyd. I like his athletic ability, and he can help a lot of teams,” Kiper said. “He had a heck of a year. He's solidly in the first round. I have no problem with that decision.
“Elam could be the second safety off the board. I have no problem with that decision. Jordan Reed can catch the football and will have nice workouts. I have no issue with that.”
Some other draft analysts are projecting Elam to go late in the first round.
“I thought about him as a borderline (first-round pick),” Kiper said. “I see more as going in the second round, probably more early in the second round.”
Kiper said Reed, UF's leading receiver this past season, could go as high as the second round, but probably will hear his named called in the third round.
“I like him. He's one of those athletic tight ends that are in vogue in the league,” Kiper said. “He can stretch the deep middle of the field.
“That tight end group is not all that strong. It's not a great year (for tight ends). The third tight end (slot) is wide open. There's a chance he'll be right there. He could be the third tight end taken or the fifth.
“Either way, he's in the third-round discussion, maybe the second if he runs a great 40.”
At least three UF seniors — tailback Mike Gillislee, middle linebacker Jon Bostic and offensive tackle Xavier Nixon — also are projected to be taken in the draft. Other possibilities are safety Josh Evans and place-kicker Caleb Sturgis.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.