Muschamp mixed on Gators' draft results
Published: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 at 8:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 at 8:15 p.m.
ORLANDO — Florida coach Will Muschamp has mixed feelings about how his players fared in the NFL draft over the weekend.
He's proud of Dominique Easley, who was selected 29th overall by New England despite missing three-fourths of his senior season with his second ACL tear.
But Muschamp said when Patriots coach Bill Belichick turned on the tape, he felt Easley was the best interior defensive lineman in the draft.
“He's a dominating player,” Muschamp said at a Gator Gathering stop Tuesday. “He came back to improve his status, and he did. And he only played three games. But they go back to the film.
“They're not watching the combine workout, and they're not listening to some street agent on what they think you are, and they dang sure ain't watching some show on where to draft people. They're going to watch film. The guys that play well and produce on film, those are the ones that get drafted. Especially the ones that are clean.”
On the flip side was cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy, a first-round projection this time last year. But he was not drafted and signed a free-agent contract Monday with the Indianapolis Colts following a subpar junior season and poor combine performance coupled with off-the-field issues that included a guilty plea for marijuana possession, which was first reported Tuesday by The Sun.
While Muschamp wouldn't criticize Purifoy or anyone for choosing to come out early, he feels players need to be better informed about their draft stock and handling the process.
“It's very concerning that 98 guys came out and 36 didn't get drafted,” Muschamp said. “Go back and look at the mock drafts from this past year. They got three guys on one that I saw that didn't even get drafted.
“But the league minimum is $420,000 now. That's a lot more than they've ever been exposed to. So it's all relative to what you think. My job is to get them all the information. That's a family decision.”
Two juniors Muschamp did sympathize with were linebacker Ronald Powell and cornerback Marcus Roberson. Powell slipped to the fifth round before New Orleans took him, while Roberson went undrafted and signed a free-agent contract Monday with the St. Louis Rams.
“There's no question Marcus will make that team,” Muschamp said. “I'm shocked he was not picked. I don't really understand that part of it. The draft is a lot like recruiting. It's not an exact science. It's all in the eye of the beholder, and sometimes your opinion may be different from someone else's.
“Ronald Powell is a guy that went through a lot of adversity. I think he made the right decision in coming out. It's frustrating for him with the way things went there, but he'll be fine. He's a guy that's heavy handed. He can play in the early downs and give you some pass rush on third down. I know (Saints defensive coordinator) Rob Ryan really liked him when he was in Gainesville for Pro Day.”
Muschamp said Florida's other selections, cornerback Jaylen Watkins (Eagles) and offensive guard Jon Halapio (Patriots), will do well with their new teams.
The Gators have now had 14 players drafted and three first-rounders under Muschamp, which are the same totals former coach Urban Meyer produced in his first three years at UF.
“We inherited some guys at Florida that were very talented, especially on the defensive side of the ball,” Muschamp said. “We do a good job of developing those guys in their careers at Florida, and we're going to continue to do so. We still got a bunch of guys sitting on that football team that are going to get drafted again next year.”
Note: True freshman offensive lineman Nolan Kelleher had surgery on his back and will redshirt in the fall, Muschamp said.