Prediction time for the juniors


Because there are no games to predict this week, it seems like a good time to look at what Florida’s much-discussed juniors will be doing after the Sugar Bowl in terms of the NFL Draft.

Here’s what we’re predicting:

Joe Haden — This is a no-brainer. He’s being projected as the No. 1 cornerback in the draft and an almost certain top-15 pick. He talked last week about possibly returning for his senior season to earn his degree and play with his brother Jordan, who will be a true freshman cornerback next season. That sounds good, but it’s time for Haden to take his game to the next level. He said he will know what he’s going to do before the Sugar Bowl (he probably already does). We have a good idea, too. Prediction: He’s gone.

Carlos Dunlap —
There is no doubt this athletic freak has first-round ability. But a huge red flag went up two weeks ago with his DUI arrest the Tuesday before the SEC title game. The pros already had some concerns about his inconsistent work ethic. Now, they have to be wondering about his character. There’s a good chance now Dunlap could fall out of the first round. The advice I would give him is to come back for his senior year, stay out of trouble and bust his butt on the field on every play. That would vault him back into the first round in the following draft. I think his parents might be thinking the same thing, but I doubt that’s what he’s thinking. Prediction: He’s gone.

Aaron Hernandez — This talented tight end tipped his hand when he threw the ball into the stands after catching a first-half touchdown pass in the home finale against Florida State. That was his way of saying farewell to The Swamp. He does not have prototypical NFL size, but he’s a pure pass-catching tight end in the Tony Gonzalez mold. He’s pretty much made it clear he’s ready to move on. Prediction: He’s gone.

Maurkice Pouncey — He probably will stay if he doesn’t project to go in the first two rounds. But ranked as the No. 1 center in the draft by some, Pouncey figures to be a second-round pick, so this looks like an easy call. He might want to stick around and play one more year with his twin brother Mike. Then, again, maybe it’s time for the twins to go their separate football ways. Prediction: He’s gone.

Mike Pouncey — He’s rated one of the top offensive guards in the draft and could go somewhere in the second round. The temptation will be there to leave, especially if Maurkice pulls the trigger. It’s plausible that Mike could come back even if Maurkice doesn’t. But that scenario won’t happen. Prediction: He’s gone.

Major Wright — His name hasn’t been mentioned much about this draft, but he will have a chance to go. He does not have top-end speed for an NFL safety, but this guy could be a potential star at strong safety in the NFL the way he hits people. Hey, he might even grow into an outside linebacker. He definitely has a big upside. Prediction: He’s staying.

Ahmad Black and Chris Rainey — We’ve put these two Lakeland kids together because they’re pretty much in the same category. THEY ARE NOT READY FOR THE NFL. Not even close. Rainey has the speed, but he doesn’t have the size and strength. And he hasn’t really done much. Black doesn’t have the size or the speed. He’s a safety in a cornerback’s body. Black’s father wants him to come out, but it would be a serious mistake if he does. Black is a really good football player, one of the most instinctive defensive players on the UF roster. But he needs to get bigger, stronger and a shade faster before he’s ready to tangle with the big boys. Rainey isn’t ready, either. If these guys decide to come out, I would not be shocked if neither gets drafted. That would be a waste. Prediction: They’re staying.

Marcus Gilbert — This offensive tackle has an NFL body and an NFL future, but he’s been a starter for only one season. He needs another year to develop. Prediction: He’s staying.


  1. i agree with everything what robbie said, with the exception of dunlap. Dunlap is still going to be a first rounder, the question is, is he going to drop further in the first round. And it seems like Black’s father is just worried about making money, I hopw Ahamad is smarter then that.

  2. Why no mention of Moody? He might not get drafted, but he is being misused at UF, thus he is wasting his time. He is the team’s best pure RB. Agree totally on Black and Rainey and I will take it one step further. Neither will ever be good enough to play in the NFL. As for Wright, what upside do you see? I suggested they make him into an undersized SLB after his freshman year, b/c he is NOT a free safety. He has zero ball or coverage skills and no play recognition skills, thus making him a horrible free safety. Even in the NFL a strong safety has to have some coverage and ball skills. Wright might could make a team as a backup and special teamer only, but he would be lucky to be a 2nd day pick.

  3. It is sad to see this great group (juniors and seniors) leave. I think you are spot on with your thoughts. It would be nice to have the O-Line back intact though. The one thing that stands out in the Meyer era is the quality depth he has built in the O-Line and the defensive front seven. I don’t recall that kind of depth post Charlie Pell.

    No thoughts on Lawrence Marsh? That thought is no stranger than Ahmad Black coming out.

  4. I’m holding out hope the Pounceys stay. I read an article on another Gator site last week that quoted their mother saying they might end up staying if both weren’t guaranteed 2nd round our higher. If they end up going in the draft, I will wish them the best of luck and say thanks for their contributions to the Gator Nation. Black and Rainey would be making HUGE mistakes in life if they were to come out. Wright should stay another year and work on his cover skills. Haden, Dunlap, and Hernandez are goners.

  5. I believe Robbie is spot on with his predictions. My concern is the turmoil created by these and the seniors’ departure in addition to the 2 assistant coaches and possibly others leaving. How will affect the Sugar Bowl prep? (more distractions) How’s that going to look to a potential recruit? Perception could be rats leaving the ship.

  6. Robbie:

    I think you are right on all fronts, but I would really like the Pouncey’s to stay and help John lead the offense next year. Dunlap has an opportunity to change his legacy at Florida by staying for his senior year, but don’t know if he will really do the right thing. Unfortunately, so many do what they think is personally in their best interest at the time. Tim Tebow always thought of everybody else first….which is why he’s a legend and the man he is. Brandon Spikes is right there too. Is it about the money today, or is it about taking care of each other and building a future you can be proud of? We’ll find out in the next three weeks.

  7. Black and Rainey should call Brandon Siler in SD and see if he liked being picked at the end fo the draft, it’s worked out.. 3 yrs later, but I’m sure he would have stayed had he known he wouldn’t get picked until round 7. Ma Pouncey should go, his brother should come back and play center & guard and improve his stock w/versatility and another solid year as a leader. Wright and Black are not nearly as good as Reggie Nelson was at UF and if you saw last nights game you know how difficult the NFL can be, even on a star player. Our safeties should come back, won’t be surprised is Black leaves and is drafted in the 5th/6th round. Dunlap, Haden, & Hernandez are 1st/2nd round picks… I hope they all do great in the NFL. Gilbert’s not ready and will cost himself serious $$ if he leaves, hope he stays. I wish all the players nothing but success at UF and/or in the NFL. Go Gators!!

  8. on yeah and another thing, C. Rainey would get drafted but only because of his speed, he can get stronger and bigger working out with a NFL club just as much as he could if he came back to UF, so that’s not a valid point. Marsh would be making a big mistake too, he wouldn’t get drafted at all, but i will say this….moody and thompson would get drafted for sure, but I think they feel like they will be able to improve their stock next season with brantly at the helm and should.

  9. I agree with this post with the exception being Dunlap.
    He will earn more money being a top 15 pick then waiting
    a year with the new caps imposed. NFL teams are salivating
    over his raw skills and size. Most NFL coaches are confident
    in themselves and their abilities to coach-up their players.
    Coach’s know they can’t create 7′ wingspans, they can only draft them
    when they rarely become available.

    IMO he is a risk, but the Pro’s egos will convince themselves he is a risk
    worth taking.

    I sincerely thank all the Gator players for their contributions and wish them the very best in whatever they decide. ONCE A GATOR ALWAYS A GATOR !!!

  10. Fans want what is best for the Gators and the players, whether they leave or not. Don’t get fooled by the talk of the Rookie Salary cap. It isn’t going to happen before 2012 at best because of the Players’ Union. Hopefully these kids have parents and support groups with their best interests in mind to keep the slick talking agents at bay. I want them all to come back to help the Gators but if they don’t want to be here then let them go. Who needs the attitude problems next year with Black and Rainey wishing they left. God forbid they get hurt and blame Urban for their “lost opportunity”.

  11. Agreed, with one caveat, I think Carlos may do better by going; if he comes back there’s the chance he can get hurt. I don’t think his stock as a player can rise any more. I agree, Dunlap gets overlooked by some teams but ends up being the break out NFL rookie of the year ala Percy Harvin. A of of teams may overlook him only to end up losing to him later. Watch and see, Later Gator.

  12. Ahmad Black’s biggest problem is that he listens too much to his malcontent father. It has been strongly suggested that Black had a role in the Gators being “flat” in the SEC Championship game, and whether he is ready or not, it might be in UF’s best interests if Black went to the NFL now.