First Kyle Pitts, then what? Where will these five Florida Gators land in this week's NFL draft?
The moment many have been waiting their entire lives for is just over 48 hours away: the 2021 NFL draft.
For the University of Florida, it should be an eventful Thursday — but it won’t end there.
Multiple former UF players should hear their names called across the seven rounds of the draft, and it’s anyone’s guess as to who will end up where and in what order. A lot can change before NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell takes the stage in Cleveland, but I’m going to take my best shot at predicting where the Gators will land.
Kyle Pitts, early first round
Undoubtedly, Florida junior tight end Kyle Pitts will hear his name called early Thursday night. He’s been a consensus top-5 pick in most mock drafts since wrapping up the 2020 season with the Gators, with some speculating he could go as high as No. 2 to the Jets. While it looks like that won’t happen, it would be shocking if Pitts hasn’t been drafted by the time the clock strikes 9 p.m. ET. My guess is he winds up in Atlanta with the No. 4 pick, unless the Falcons shock the world and go with either a quarterback or Oregon offensive lineman Penei Sewell. Either way, expect to hear the phrase “generational talent” ad nauseum come Thursday night when Pitts is being discussed.
Postseason honors:Pitts wins Mackey Award as nation’s top tight end
Kadarius Toney, late first round?
Talk about a rise for Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney. The speedy pass-catcher from Eight Mile, Alabama, was considered to be picked on either the second or third day in the draft when he entered his name back in January, but he’s quickly accelerated up boards and stands to be one of the top 50 picks in the NFL selections. If he’s available at No. 25 when the Jaguars have their second pick Thursday night, I would love to see Urban Meyer take Toney and pair him up with inevitable No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence. If anyone knows how to get the best out of Toney, it’s Meyer. People love to make comparisons to Percy Harvin, yet this one may actually be relevant if Meyer winds up coaching Toney at the next level.
Stone Forsythe, first four rounds
Like Toney, this is another vault up the rankings for the Gators. Stone Forsythe, Florida’s 6-foot-8 left tackle, is getting plenty of notice around the league in the build-up to the draft as scouts and general managers pick apart film around the clock. Forsythe is hard to miss when watching the film of UF quarterback Kyle Trask, and his Pro Day last month drew plenty of acclaim for his athleticism. An elite left tackle can make or break a team’s chances at competing for the playoffs, which is why Forsythe should be drafted within the first four rounds this weekend, although I now expect him to be off the board before Friday’s over. If the Cincinnati Bengals, or another team with a highly regarded young quarterback under center, don’t wind up with an elite-level tackle before the second round is over, they should be all over Forsythe.
Kyle Trask, second, maybe third
I’m not a betting man, but I believe Kyle Trask will slightly fall down NFL draft boards and be the fourth Gator selected. While some, namely the ever-informed Peter King, have heard Trask may hear his name called as high as the late first round, I think he will drop into the second or possibly third round. If it weren’t for Forsythe’s rise, I would have him as the third UF player drafted this weekend, but I have my doubts about how the NFL world, which seems to fall in love each year with quarterbacks who are either more mobile or stronger than Trask, views the Manvel, Texas, native who now famously toiled away as a back-up for seven years before his record-setting season. Either way, whichever team that takes Trask is going to get a quarterback eager to prove the naysayers wrong once again — I wouldn’t be surprised if he does it.
David Whitley's opinion:Kyle Trask would be good fit for Tampa Bay Bucs
Shawn Davis, mid- to late rounds
Based on his Pro Day, many expect Marco Wilson to be the first defensive back drafted for the Gators this year, but I’m not so sure. I’m actually going with someone who couldn’t show what they could do in Florida’s indoor practice facility at the end of March: safety Shawn Davis. The Miami native tweaked his hamstring during his 40-yard dash, sidelining him for the remainder of his Pro Day. But I’m hearing scouts remain intrigued by what he’s put on film at Florida. Although there are some injury concerns, Davis will provide teams with versatility at the safety position and he has above average ball skills. If he can stay healthy and continue improving, he could be a late or mid-round steal for a team.