Mullen: Some Gators face ‘business decision’ from NFL

Florida offensive lineman Jawaan Taylor (65) talks with media members at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Brad McClennyStaff photographer]

Numerous Florida underclassmen are still awaiting feedback from the NFL concerning their draft status, but UF coach Dan Mullen seems fairly certain that at least one more will declare for the draft, joining safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson.

“We had our guys turn things in and everybody’s waiting to find out the evaluations, find out where they’re at and then make an educated decision,” Mullen said Friday. “In my estimation, I know we’ll have at least one more that will come out for the draft. But beyond that, I’m not sure.”

Mullen was asked if the one is junior second-team All-America defensive end Jachai Polite, whom many are projecting as a first-round selection and an obvious choice to leave early.

“Nah, I’m not going to go who it is, but no,” Mullen said. “It wouldn’t be him. I’m not going to say who it is, but it’s not him.”

Junior offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor is the other Gator underclassman who is being projected as a possible first-round pick.

Although Polite likely would go in the first round and likely will make the move to the NFL, he’s still not ready to make that decision.

“He’s still researching,” Mullen said. “He’s a guy that met with me. He’s one of the ones that has met with me about gathering information and researching. You study and it’s a business decision.’

“If you’re a top-10 pick you’re getting $30 million dollars. If you’re a second or third rounder, you’re getting $4 million dollars. There’s a big difference between those two numbers.

“Guys need to be really educated as to what you’re doing and how it’s going to affect you in the future. Have zero regrets about your decision in whatever you do.”

With all the other UF underclassmen still waiting to hear back from the NFL, it’s pretty obvious that Gardner-Johnson made his decision without much feedback from the league. He declared for the draft two days after the Nov. 24 win over Florida State. He has not been projected as a possible first-round pick.

Mullen was asked if Gardner-Johnson has made the right call.

“That’s his personal decision,” he said. “That has nothing to do with me. I said it’s a personal decision for everybody. I guess for him, time will tell whether it was a good move or bad move.

“Our job is to inform, not to say whether it’s a good idea or a bad idea.  Just to give you as much information as possible. Hopefully, for all our guys, I hope it really works out well for them and ends up being the right decision.”

Gardner-Johnson is practicing and has assured the coaches he will be playing in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 29 against Michigan. Mullen has gotten the same feedback from the other draft-eligible underclassmen.

“That’s what they’ve told me,” he said. “No one has come up (and said they’re not playing). We’ll see. It’s a personal decision for everybody to go do that.

“But, you’re playing a great opponent, a great opportunity when you’re playing in a New Year’s Six bowl, you’re playing against a Top-10 team. Even if you are leaving for the NFL, I don’t care if you’re a redshirt sophomore or a fifth-year senior, you get an opportunity to go play against a team full of a bunch of NFL talent and go put it on tape what you can do. It’s one more chance to go build your resume as a football player.”



  1. Well, truthfully, Coach Mullen may face some ”decisions to make” too, in the upcoming Peach Bowl game.
    Because in five games versus ranked opponents in this season, Florida Q.B. Felipe Franks has only thrown 4 T.D.s, along with four interceptions. And Franks has only completed 52.5 % of his passes against ranked teams. And I do sincerely hope Franks can drastically improve on the stats above, especially since Michigan Football is ranked a Top 10 team presently. If Franks gets flustered in the Peach Bowl, and begans to look as if he’s really struggling against the Wolverines, I sure hope Coach Mullen puts back-up Q.B. Emory Jones into the game.
    Because in last year’s game against Michigan, Florida back-up Q.B. Malik Zaire (similar style to Emory Jones) looked much more effective with his legs than Franks did against Michigan’s stout defense. However, the game was already lost, and many of the Gator players appeared to have given up by the time back-up Q.B. Zaire got into the Florida opener in Dallas last year.
    So in this year’s Peach Bowl game against Michigan, I am of the opinion that Emory Jones has everything to gain, and very little to lose playing in this bowl game. And I don’t buy the argument that ”playing him too soon may ruin his confidence for the future.” Especially since Emory Jones has been at U.F. for a whole season now. Because we all have to start somewhere! And Emory Jones needs to learn how to handle the ups and downs, the successes and failures that all players experience in the game of college football, and in the game of life. Go Gators! Beat Michigan!

    • GI my thoughts too. Franks has the talent just maybe or maybe not the mindset to use that talent. Jones has come along nicely. I thought our glimpses of him this year have shown a huge upside. I don’t think Mullen would let the game any game get out of hand before making some kind of change. Particularly this one where there are a lot of eyes on for how we play. Beat the Wolverines.

    • Another excellent analysis, GI. If Franks falters, my opinion is that Jones is likely to shake Michigan up big time. Don’t get me wrong, I want Franks to have the game of his life and I’d really like to see two QBs befuddle those guys — but if Franks is off I think Jones just might be ready for a big game himself.

  2. Jones would give a whole different look that would help to keep Michigan defense off balance. Use UM’s speed against them and that is just another advantage tat out team would have. We will have to wait and see. GO GATORS!!!

  3. As in the commercial “Think wisely my friend(s).” or was the “Drink wisely my friends.”? This is the most important X you have signed. If you are better off waiting improve your stock and help us and yourself to another great year. Go Gators!!🐊🐊

  4. i HavE HEARD that Polite is a projected early 2nd round pick. Gardner-Johnson is late 2nd, early 3rd. Nothing yet on Taylor or Zuniga. Mel Kiper likes Zuniga and I think Kiper’s opinions are almost a kiss of death.

  5. cattrick. The only player on the team that absolutely should jump to the NFL in my opinion is Polite. He is ready and is likely a late first round pick for some NFL team. Taylor would be a gamble for NFL teams as a OT and somewhat of a project still. He would seriously benefit from coming back and working one more year developing his skills with Havesty. I have no doubt, if he did that, he would go in the first round and be a NFL ready starter after next season. The remaining juniors considering a jump to the NFL should seriously consider the benefits of coming back and working on their football resume for another year. Gardner-Johnson jumping to the NFL so early was and is perplexing to me. I do not see him going higher than the 3rd round, and I could see him falling all the way down to the fourth round. Why not come back and get better with Grantham for one more year? But he is probably sick of going to classes, as Jefferson was even before the season ended.

  6. Here is latest from the scouts I know at IMG: Polite, late 1st round. Joseph could be late first or early 2nd. He is going to go pro. Gardner-Johnson was originally late 2nd round/early 3rd but his stock now up to early 2nd round based on tapes, coverage ability and NFL teams are drooling about a guy with size and speea(d to play both safety and DB, maybe even as a 5th pass rusher. No word yet on scouting report on Zuniga or David Reese (who last I heard was in the Free Agent category).
    Taylor is definitely going to the NFL. Polite waiting to make his decision but will go. A good game against Michigan could move him up top 10 and an extra signing bonus of $20+ million.

    • 6 underclassmen who are arguably near nfl ready, plus a few seniors and other guys tells me with all of what has happened, you are looking at least a one in 3 shot of making the nfl if you sign with florida, maybe better. not bad, but it also says we are going to lose a lot of talent next year, which is why im not for hyping this team up just yet. once the georgia qb moves on we should return as the dominant team in the east and more, but thats for another conversation.
      Gardner Johnson i could see moving up as he is the type of flexible player (and also knows the systems needed) to go against spread offenses that are taking over the nfl finally.

  7. Cattrick I think the scout at IMG might need to find a new line of work if he actually believes Joseph is a late first or early second pick. He still needs to improve in a lot of areas, especially his passing defense, before he even gets close to that level.