With six players taken in the first two rounds, and nine overall, the Gators were a major story in last year’s NFL Draft. They figure to be a relatively minor one this year.
Center Mike Pouncey is projected to be a first-round pick. After that, there’s a good chance only three more Gators will be selected in the draft — strong safety Ahmad Black, free safety Will Hill and offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert.
“It’s not like it has been in past years (with the Gators in the draft),” ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said. “After (Pouncey, Black, Hill and Gilbert), there’s a whole bunch of other guys that never really played to their full potential. I think a lot of athletes that never became great football players, or great football players who just don’t have the physical tools.”
McShay said defensive end Justin Trattou falls in the category of great football player without the physical tools.
“He just doesn’t have a fit in the NFL,” McShay said. “Defensive tackle, he’s a tweener. Defensive end, he’s only 6-3, 255 and he doesn’t have the speed to get off the edge. He’s very instinctive and plays hard. Someone looking for a later-round guy or a free agent, it won’t surprise me if Trattou winds up finding a niche somehow, someway, and contributing.”
McShay said the Gator whose stock has risen the most in recent weeks in Gilbert, who has been impressive in workouts.
“He’s 6-6, 330. He’s not a great athlete, but he has very good size,” McShay said. “He plays with some pretty good balance and he does a nice job of moving laterally in short areas. Actually, with his size and the way he’s continued to improve, I think he can be a starting right tackle in the league.
“Some teams might look at him as a guard. I think he might be too big with that 6-6 frame. I think he can be a starting right tackle. There’s a chance he’ll come off the board in the third round.”
McShay said Black also is likely a third-rounder, while Hill probably will go in the middle to late rounds.
It’s a lot different than a year ago, when the Gators had three players taken in the first round (Joe Haden, Maurkice Pouncey and Tim Tebow) and three in the second (Jermaine Cunningham, Carlos Dunlap and Brandon Spikes).