Two Gators drafted on Day 2
Published: Friday, April 26, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 1:08 a.m.
Hollywood could not have scripted it any better.
Standing at the podium at the NFL Draft in New York on Friday night, former Florida and Chicago Bears running back great Neal Anderson broke into a big smile when he looked at the card in his hand as he prepared to announce the Bears' second-round draft pick.
Then came the reason for the smile: “With the 50th pick in the 2013 draft, the Chicago Bears select Jonathan Bostic, linebacker, THE University of Florida,” Anderson beamed.
It doesn't get any more appropriate than that: a Gator/Bear announcing the selection of another Gator/Bear in the draft.
Unlike Florida's two first-round draft picks — defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and safety Matt Elam — Bostic, a standout middle linebacker, went somewhat overlooked for most of this past season in terms of his NFL potential.
But he obviously caught the attention of the coaches and scouts during the NFL Combine and workouts.
“I can tell you that since the coaches have started to get involved in the evaluation process, this kid has slowly risen,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. “The challenge this year for him was to be more physical. A little bit more of an outside linebacker's body type playing inside, he was kind of a run-around guy a year ago.
“This year he took a step up. He took on teams, he took on blockers. When the (NFL) coaches get involved, if they push for a kid, he started to move up. He's a heck of a player.”
A few hours after Bostic's name was called, UF junior tight end Jordan Reed was drafted in the third round with the 85th pick by the Washington Redskins. The former quarterback led the Gators in receiving in 2012 with 45 catches for 559 yards and three touchdowns.
The 6-foot-1, 245-pound Bostic could eventually replace a legend in Chicago — star linebacker Brian Urlacher, who failed to reach a contract agreement with the Bears in March and is now a free agent.
“I know they have a great tradition of linebackers, especially the two they had this year — especially the one they had that played Mike (Urlacher),” Bostic said in a teleconference with the Chicago media. “You can sit here and name plenty of them. But obviously to play in Chicago is going to take a lot of work.”
In his four-year UF career, Bostic recorded 237 total tackles, 19.0 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, seven pass breakups, five interceptions and two forced fumbles.
Bostic's ability was overlooked by many, but not by Florida coach Will Muschamp, who said several times during the 2012 season that Bostic was playing as well as any middle linebacker in college football.
“I'm very proud of Jon, he really worked hard for this moment,” Muschamp said. “Last offseason, we sat down with Jon and told him the things he needed to work on and he really attacked those things.
“His hard work has paid off now, and we wish him the best.”
Like most of the linebackers at UF, Bostic was trained to play all three linebacker positions. That versatility is part of what attracted the Bears to Bostic.
“He's a three-position player, three-position linebacker,” Chicago general manager Phil Emery said. “I thought it was very important that if we were going to take a linebacker in the second round that we get somebody that could immediately fill in at all three spots.”
Reed also is a versatile athlete who came to Florida as a quarterback but moved to tight end in the spring of his sophomore season. Although he lacks size at 6-2, 236, Reed has excellent speed and hands and had a knack for making things happen after the catch.
“I'm very happy for Jordan,” Muschamp said. “He causes matchup problems for defenses and is extremely athletic for his size. He hasn't been playing tight end for very long and will continue to grow into the position.”
Bostic and Reed were the only Gators selected on the second day of the draft (second and third rounds). UF should have a considerable presence in the final four rounds today, with as many as five or six players having a chance to get picked, including tailback Mike Gillislee, outside linebacker Jelani Jenkins and safety Josh Evans.
The Gators have quite a history with the Bears. Chicago has drafted 19 UF players, the second most among NFL teams. The most recent Gator to get drafted by Chicago was safety Major Wright in 2010.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.