Picking favorites: Who would make up your ideal Gator football team?
Published: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 3:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 3:44 p.m.
If you were going to build a college football team through a draft and your draft pool consisted of the Florida Gators, who would you pick first? Who would be your top 10 players off the board?
There are a lot of different ways to go with this.
Here's what we would do:
* 1. Loucheiz Purifoy, cornerback: The obvious No. 1 overall pick because he's a potential game-changer in all three phases of the game — offense, defense and special teams. Purifoy spent the first half of the spring at wide receiver and showed enough playmaking ability that the coaches are going to have an offensive package for him in the fall. With his size (6-foot-1, 185 pounds), speed and hands, he could give the Gators a downfield threat they've been missing. He's also potentially UF's best defensive player and best special teams player. Purifoy is the total package, the kind of player you build a team around.
* 2. Jeff Driskel, quarterback: Can anyone ever remember a good team that didn't have a good quarterback? Although Driskel struggled with consistency and decision-making at times last season, the coaches seem sold on him. He's a dual-threat quarterback who can make big plays with his arm and his legs. If the skill players around him play better, which the coaches are anticipating, Driskel could emerge as one of the league's most dynamic offensive players.
* 3. Dominique Easley, defensive tackle: He brings a lot to the table. Experience. Passion. Leadership. Strength. Versatility. His lightning-quick first step gives him a chance to make big plays and disrupt an offense in a lot of different ways. And he can go from defensive end and tackle.
* 4. Marcus Roberson, cornerback: Every good defense needs a lock-down cover corner, and that's what this guy is. He can cover the opponent's best wide receiver man-to-man, which can take all kinds of stress off the defense and put it on the quarterback. He's added weight and strength and should be more effective disrupting routes. He also can change a game with his ability as a punt returner.
* 5. Dante Fowler, defensive end: He had an impact as a true freshman last season and seems primed to take his game to another level now with experience. Fowler has great lower body strength and explosive speed off the edge, qualities that give him a chance to emerge as an elite pass rusher.
* 6. Matt Jones, tailback: For an offense that desires to run the ball downhill, Jones seems like a near perfect fit at tailback. He's big (almost 230 pounds), strong and also has the cutting ability and speed to turn a five-yard gain into a 75-yard touchdown run. He's coming off an impressive spring in which he distanced himself from the other tailback candidates. He has the hands to be an effective weapon catching the ball out of the backfield. His upside is way up there.
* 7. Antonio Morrison, middle linebacker: Strong defense starts up the middle, and Morrison is one of those guys who can anchor the inside of a defense. Not only is he a very instinctive player who plays the game with great passion. He also has shown he can change a game with his explosive striking ability (something FSU quarterback EJ Manuel can attest to). After establishing himself as a true freshman last season, Morrison has a chance to develop into an elite SEC defensive player.
* 8. Ronald Powell, Buck: Had he not injured his knee in the 2012 spring game and undergone two ACL surgeries in the last year, Powell very well could be sitting on the top of this list at No. 1. Powell was starting to emerge as an elite defensive player before he was hurt. If can overcome the expected mental hurdles and pick up where he left off in the spring of 2012, Powell could be a dynamic player at linebacker and defensive end.
* 9. Trey Burton, wide receiver/fullback/quarterback: Burton doesn't do any one thing great, but he does a lot of things very well. His versatility is a huge factor when you start talking about how to attack a defense. He can make plays at wide receiver and running back, and if you want to run the Wildcat formation, he's your guy at quarterback. Offensive players with Burton's versatility are hard to find.
* 10. Kyle Christy, punter: When you can change field position like this guy can, he's clearly a top-10 player on any team. He was perhaps Florida's most consistent weapon last season, the way he consistently flipped field position and impacted games.
Robbie Andreu is a Gainesville Sun staff writer.