2023 NFL Draft mock projections: Where will Florida Gators, Anthony Richardson land this year?

By OnlyGators.com Staff
April 27, 2023
2023 NFL Draft mock projections: Where will Florida Gators, Anthony Richardson land this year?

Image Credit: Jordan McKendrick, UAA

As the 2023 NFL Draft approaches with Round 1 set for Thursday, OnlyGators.com is here to take a closer look at the Florida Gators who could be selected over the course of the three-day, seven-round draft. It is once again expected that the draft will feature plenty of twists and turns this year with no player more center to that potential turmoil than Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson.

Below are draft projections for each of the nine Gators who participated in the pre-draft process that are available this weekend along with evaluations of the prospects from your’s truly following consultation with multiple national draft experts. While all nine could potentially be selected, Florida is likely looking a more than a handful being chosen and a few more moving on as undrafted free agents. Let’s get to it.

Reminder: OnlyGators.com will offer complete, live coverage of the 2023 NFL Draft all week. So be sure to come back on Thursday, bookmark our draft tracker to follow the action all three days.

Quarterback Anthony Richardson
Only Gators projection: Round 1, picks 3-10
There’s truly no telling what will happen with Richardson. He has wow’d evaluators — just like he did Gators fans — with his athleticism, been praised for his absurdly high ceiling and been the hottest topic entering the draft largely due to his boom-or-bust potential. Because on the other side of that athleticism is an unpolished thrower who struggles with short and intermediate routes, possesses inconsistent footwork, often gets off rhythm and showed tremendous inconsistency during his one full year as a starter. He set speed records at the NFL Combine, supposedly passed the mental-based tests with flying colors and flashed his signature personality during interviews.

Will that be enough for him to go among the top five selections? If not, how far will he drop? Richardson is being mocked everywhere from No. 4 overall as the second quarterback taken to No. 20 overall as the fourth. The Colts (No. 4) and Seahawks (No. 5, No. 20) seem interested. But is either willing to use a top-five pick on a not-so-sure thing? Will the Lions (No. 6) sit behind Jared Goff while molding him as their QB of the future? If neither of those three, the next four picks are ripe for trade opportunities, particularly from the Seattle, which could use package No. 20 with a 2024 pick to shoot back up. It’s one thing if Richardson does not go among the top five, but it would be a surprise to see him fall out of the top 10 with this much hype. If that somehow were to happen, the Seahawks at No. 20 would be his floor.

Offensive lineman O’Cyrus Torrence
Only Gators projection: Rounds 1-2
Once considered a sure-fire first-round pick, Torrence can be found in the top 15 or as far down as the middle of the second round on mocks without much reason for such a wide range of projections. The consensus first-team All-American offers size, strength and skill, plus, he has done nothing but impress throughout his college career. He did not commit a single penalty last season and emerged as the Gators’ best player on either side of the ball. Though Torrence does need to work on his blocking against double teams — and he put forth one of the worst athleticism scores at the combine — he offers great drive as a run blocker and a tremendous ability to sustain blocks in pass protection.

Defensive tackle Gervon Dexter Sr.
Only Gators projection: Rounds 2-3
Dexter placed among the top performers in the workout portion of the combine showing solid speed and burst for his position. Lack of explosiveness has consistently been a knock against him, and his inability to fight through double teams limits what he can accomplish at the next level. However, Dexter is shifty enough when going one-on-one to open some eyes, and he has only continued to elevate himself during the pre-draft process by flashing immense athleticism. He is seen as a high-ceiling prospect.

Linebacker Ventrell Miller
Only Gators projection: Rounds 4-5
Miller did not participate in the combine workout due to a foot injury. A classic two-down linebacker, he was a strong leader for a Gators defense that lacked experience and discipline. Florida simply played better when he was on the field with Miller frequently making big plays despite not having a “playmaker” label due to his lack of pass rushing. A sure-handed tackler who will pick up a playbook with ease, Miller will likely be an immediate special teams starter who works his way into a team’s rotation and earns additional reps with the more time he gets on the field. He was originally projected as an early Day 3 pick but has seemingly slid down boards as the process has unfolded.

Evaluations on the five players below have been significantly mixed based on the multiple NFL evaluators to which OnlyGators.com spoke before crafting this breakdown. There are some who believe a couple players below could be drafted as high as the fourth round, while other evaluators have those same players going undrafted entirely.

While this is not uncommon when dealing with a prospect or two, the wildly varied evaluations on a complete handful of Florida players likely speaks to uncertainty about whether it was their ability, scheme fit or coaching issues to blame during their time with the Gators.

Wide receiver Justin Shorter
Only Gators projection: Rounds 5-6
Shorter’s workout was unspectacular with him not placing high in any of the combine events. His size makes him a big target at the next level, and his sure hands will have NFL teams interested in taking a flier on him. However, Shorter is slow off the snap and requires longer routes to gain separation. He also does not have breakaway speed after the catch. He’s talented enough to go before the final round but sneaking into the fifth is unlikely unless a team finds that he fills a particular role they need.

Defensive back Trey Dean III
Only Gators projection: Rounds 5-7
Dean posted the most bench press reps of any defensive back this year and tied for the fourth-most ever. Though he has plus size and enough athleticism to play man coverage, his consistent lack of awareness and inability to be in the right spot on the field to make plays created frequent holes in Florida’s defensive backfield. His ceiling in the NFL is likely as a special teams starter and defensive reserve, though with the right coaching, he could develop into a third or fourth option at safety or perhaps even at cornerback.

EDGE Brenton Cox Jr.
Only Gators projection: Rounds 5-7
Cox did not place among the top performers in the workout portion of the combine. A 13-game starter and the Gators’ leading tackler in 2021, he started the first eight games of the 2022 season and posted a team-high eight tackles for loss before being dismissed by Florida (as he was previously from Georgia). Though he possesses NFL measurables, Cox does not have the speed or athleticism that matches up with the top prospects at his position. He could develop into a rotational backup at the NFL level but is unlikely to be selected before the latter portion of Day 3.

Offensive lineman Richard Gouraige
Only Gators projection: Rounds 6-7
Though he was originally scheduled to participate in the combine workout, Gouraige was pulled from activities after the on-site physical exam. He will almost certainly find an opportunity in the NFL, though he may be forced to move inside at guard due to lacking length necessary to play tackle at the next level. That would also hide some of his flaws, such as the inability to sustain a low center of gravity against powerful rushers. His technique, hand placement and heads up play should lead to him going on Day 3.

Defensive back Rashad Torrence II
Only Gators projection: Rounds 6-7
Torrence’s workout performance was seen as unnotable. Though he did make a number of big plays for the Gators, those were mostly circumstances where he outsmarted the offense or put himself in the right position on the field due to his football IQ. He was never a consistent performer due to a lack of speed, explosiveness and overall athleticism. Whether Torrence goes on Day 3 will be determined by whether teams believe his intelligence can make up for some of the areas in which he lacks.

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