It’s probably too early to do this, but if it’s not too soon for Mel Kiper and the boys to start pumping out mock drafts (which started happening earlier in the week), it’s OK for us to take a shot at projecting where the draftable Florida players might go in April.
Let’s do it:
Mike Pouncey, center, Sr. — Some Gator fans still think it was a mistake that Pouncey made the move from guard to center last year, but the draft will prove out that it was the right decision. Some errant snaps will not be that damaging. Like his brother, Maurkice, Pouncey is an extremely quick and powerful athlete at a position where those qualities are now in demand in the NFL. Urban Meyer always said Mike Pouncey was about a year behind his twin. Well, this is the year he catches up. Projection: 1st round (somewhere in the middle).
Ahmad Black, strong safety, Sr. — Forget about size, forget about speed, forget about all the things critics say he can’t do. Black is a baller, plain and simple — a guy who knows how to play the game, a guy who uses his great instincts to make play after play, which is just what we saw at UF. At first, he’ll have to earn his way in the NFL on special teams. That’s OK, he did the same thing at Florida. Projection: 4th round.
Will Hill, free safety, Jr. — Some college underclassmen simply don’t want to go to school anymore, so they put their name in the draft regardless of the feedback from the NFL. If you’ve seen any of Hill’s tweets, you’ll know he’s probably one of those guys. Other than his interception against Georgia in overtime this past season, Hill’s biggest plays came on special teams. Granted, he had to fight through injuries this year, but still, he just didn’t show anyone a whole lot. Projection: 4th round.
Chas Henry, punter, Sr. — Kickers traditionally don’t go until the later rounds, but Henry is a gifted punter who figures to have a long and productive career in the NFL. Someone is going to scoop him up in the middle of the draft — and be happy they did. Projection: 4th round.
Marcus Gilbert, offensive tackle, Sr. — Gilbert has an NFL body and is an excellent athlete for a big man. He wasn’t the most consistent guy during his UF career, but he showed real flashes. With time and development, he’ll eventually have a chance to be a player in the league. Projection: 5th round.
Justin Trattou, defensive end, Sr. — He’s not big enough to be an every-down defensive end (something we even saw at UF), but he has a chance to make it at outside linebacker, like Jermaine Cunningham is doing with the Patriots. Trattou can really run, and the NFL guys will love his relentless motor. Projection: 6th round.
Carl Johnson, offensive guard, Sr. — He certainly looks the part, but he seemed to lack consistency at UF and seemed to struggle some in pass protection. Still, he’s a big, strong guy with the right demeanor. Projection: 7th round.
Carl Moore, wide receiver, Sr. — A writer from another paper seemed shocked when I told him earlier this season I didn’t think Moore would make it in the NFL. Well, let’s see, he’s not very fast, not very quick and he has very little to show the NFL in terms of his game tape. He never really did much. Didn’t get open, didn’t make plays. Projection: free agent.
Emmanuel Moody, tailback, Sr. — He’s a really good athlete who showed flashes at times, but he always seemed to be hurt. There is almost nothing on tape for the NFL scouts to break down. Projection: free agent.
Lawrence Marsh, defensive tackle, Sr. — Injuries pretty much wrecked his senior season and, perhaps, his chances in the NFL. Projection: free agent.
A.J. Jones, linebacker and Brandon Hicks, Sr. linebackers: I put these two together because they’re pretty much the same — fast, athletic, aggressive, but lacking in size and coming off a relatively unproductive season. Projection: free agent.
Duke Lemmens, defensive end, Sr. — Like Trattou, he’s too small to play defensive end at the next level. But he might have a chance to stick with a team as a backup outside linebacker and on special teams. No one plays harder. Projection: free agent.
Terron Sanders, defensive tackle, Sr. — He’s played really well at times. Other times, he’s been slowed by injuries and has lacked consistency. Projection: free agent.
Other possible free agents: defensive tackle Brandon Antwine, whose injury list is long and serious; outside linebacker Lorenzo Edwards, a career special-teams player for the Gators; offensive guard Maurice Hurt, who was injured much of his career; wide receiver Justin Williams, mostly just a special teams player at UF.