A year ago, Florida was coming off a disappointing 7-6 season and the team's showing at February's NFL Combine and the subsequent NFL Draft followed suit. Chris Rainey and Jaye Howard were the only Gators chosen.
It's quite a different story this year.
With six seniors and four early departures making the trip to Indianapolis, Ind., to workout, Florida had a large presence at the combine. And a name from Gainesville is likely to be called in the first five to 10 picks come April.
That name? Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd.
At 6-3, 297 pounds, Floyd impressed scouts and general managers when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.97 seconds. His footwork in the three-cone drill and the 20-yard shuttle also wowed the NFL personnel on hand.
Floyd didn't have eye-popping stats at Florida, and he was talked about as a fringe first-round pick a few months ago. Questions remain about his strength, and he chose not to do the bench press in Indy,but teams have seen enough on tape and now in person to reportedly push Floyd to the top of the pack at defensive tackle. The news about Star Lotulelei's heart condition also benefited Floyd.
ESPN.com's Mel Kiper Jr. now has Floyd as the No. 2 overall prospect, while Don Banks of SI.com has projected Floyd to be taken No. 3 overall by Oakland. If Floyd makes it past No. 3, it's hard to envision Philadelphia at No. 4 passing on the hometown boy, especially considering the moves the Eagles made this week along the defensive line.
It will be interesting to see how things play out over the coming weeks until the draft.
Here's how the rest of the former Florida players did this week:
S Matt Elam (5-10, 208 pounds)
40 time: 4.54 seconds
Bench press: 17 reps
Vertical jump: 35.5”
Broad jump: 118”
One of the smaller safeties in the draft, Elam helped solidify his first-round grade with a fast time in the 40-yard dash and a solid number on the weight bench. He was among the top seven in both, which should inspire confidence for a team that was already impressed by what they saw of Elam on film. Likely to be one of the first safeties chosen.
RB Mike Gillislee (5-11, 208 pounds)
40 time: 4.55 seconds
Bench press: 15 reps
Vertical jump: 30.5”
Broad jump: 119”
Three cone drill: 7.12 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.40 seconds
60-yard shuttle: 12.02 seconds
Like Gillislee’s career, his combine performance wasn’t anything flashy. Put on the tape and watch Gillislee run and you know what you’re going to get. He’s a hard-nosed workhorse that has the size to be an every-down back in the NFL. He showed that at the combine. He’s just not elite. Gillislee compares himself to Arian Foster, and while their stories are similar, Gillislee will be hard pressed to match the production of Foster.
TE Jordan Reed (6-2, 236 pounds)
40 time: 4.72 seconds
Bench press: 16 reps
Reed had to have been disappointed in his results in Indianapolis, where his 40 time ranked outside the top five at his position and his showing on the bench put him third to last among tight ends. Reed drew some criticism for deciding to leave school early, but he will be drafted on his potential, which still figures to be high.
LB Jelani Jenkins (6-0, 243 pounds)
Bench press: 27 reps
Florida’s Pro Day on March 12 is the date of importance for Jenkins, who did not perform in most of the drills in Indy while still recovering from a broken bone in his foot suffered against Florida State in November. The strength Jenkins displayed on the bench press was impressive, and scouts have raved about his ability in pass coverage, but a long history of injuries leaves a shadow of doubt on Jenkins and where he will be selected come April.
LB Jon Bostic (6-1, 245 pounds)
40 time: 4.61 seconds (sixth among linebackers)
Bench press (225 pounds): 22 reps
Vertical jump: 32.5”
Broad jump: 118”
Three-cone drill: 6.99 seconds (eighth among linebackers)
20-yard shuttle: 4.24 seconds (10th among linebackers)
In today’s NFL, there is no substitute for speed. Linebackers who can hold their own in pass coverage are becoming coveted commodities, and Bostic showed he has the potential to run with tight ends at the next level. There are still questions surrounding Bostic, however, and a team isn’t likely to call his name in the first three rounds.
S Josh Evans (6-1, 207 pounds)
40 time: 4.58 seconds
Vertical jump: 34.5”
Broad jump: 123”
Three-cone drill: 6.64 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.10 seconds
Evans is perhaps the most intriguing prospect Florida has entering the draft. The senior safety’s play on the field in 2012 garnered him praise as one of the most improved players on the Gators’ defense, and Evans’ workout in Indianapolis was impressive. At this time last year, Evans wasn’t on the NFL’s radar. Now, he’s likely to be drafted as high as the fourth round. A good kid with a solid head on his shoulders, some team is going to get a productive player at a good price in Evans.
LB Lerentee McCray (6-2, 250 pounds)
Another guy who needs to perform well at Florida’s Pro Day
is McCray, who didn’t work out at the combine because of recovery from shoulder
surgery. A potential late round selection.
OL Xavier Nixon (6-6, 321 pounds)
A hamstring injury prevented Nixon from working out and building on what some perceived to be a strong showing at the Senior Bowl. A potential late round selection.
K Caleb Sturgis (5-10, 188 pounds)
Arguably the most impressive kicker at the combine, Sturgis has a chance to be drafted in the last round come April if a team wants to avoid having to battle other teams for his services as an undrafted free agent. Sturgis will get every chance to make an NFL roster.