Evaluating Florida Gators ahead of 2014 NFL Draft

By Adam Silverstein
May 7, 2014

Despite being incredibly busy during the week of the 2014 NFL Draft, longtime analyst Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net sat down with OnlyGators.com on Tuesday afternoon for a wide-ranging look at the Florida Gators who could be selected Thursday-Saturday at Radio City Music Hall in New York, New York.

Pauline evaluated all 11 Florida players available in the draft and even provided projections for each prospect including those who may neither be selected May 8-10 nor signed after the festivities are over.

Defensive tackle Dominique Easley
Projection: Round 2
Analysis: “Easley, if he didn’t have the knee injury, he probably slides into round one. He’s a quick, explosive three-technique lineman who brings some inside pass rush. That’s becoming more and more valuable these days. The way it is, even with the knee injury, I think he’s going to slide into that second day of the draft and has a definite shot of going in the second round.”

Cornerback Jaylen Watkins
Projection: Rounds 2-4
Analysis: “I like Watkins the best out of Florida’s cornerbacks. Obviously he’s the fastest, he’s the most versatile, he’s the one that’s least prone to get beat deep. I think he’s underrated; he’s been overshadowed by the other two guys. He’s got the best possibility to succeed at the next level. I rate him as a second- or third-rounder, but he’s probably going to go third or fourth round. I think he’s going to be a real good value in the third round. Watkins is definitely my number one out of the Gators’ cornerbacks.”

Cornerback Marcus Roberson
Projection: Rounds 3-4
Analysis: “Roberson didn’t run well at the combine or Pro Day, obviously. Coach came out later on and said he’s a 4.6-second type of guy. He had some injuries last year and other issues, too. He has good ball skills, but I don’t know that he’s a great athlete, which I think is going to limit him with the type of systems he can play in at the next level. I do think he can play at the next level, but he’s got a lot of ground to make up.”

Cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy
Projection: Rounds 4-5
Analysis: “Purifoy, I thought from the get-go, was overrated. I had him ranked coming into the year as a fourth- or fifth-rounder, and I took a lot of heat for it. I think he’s an average athlete with average ball skills whose resume has kind of been fluffed up because of some dynamic hits and returns on occasion. He’s going to be a nickel or dime back and a return specialist at the next level and that’s probably it.”

Linebacker Ronald Powell
Projection: Round 5
Analysis: “When you watch his film, he’s a third-round prospect. He’s a defensive end who projects to outside linebacker. But he’s more than a lot of these other guys. He plays well in space, shows the ability to move around early and chase the action in pursuit. He was able to drop off the run and sprint. He’s shown the foundation and didn’t seem lost, didn’t seem out in space somewhere. He did a competent job of it. But you have to factor in the injuries; it’s a long injury list. So, I think he’s probably going to be a fifth-round type of prospect, but if he’s healthy, he’s going to surprise at the next level. He’s one of those guys where if he’s able to stay healthy and continue to build upon what we saw last season, could be one of those guys that people are going to say, ‘How could this guy fall so deep into the draft?’”

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Guard Jon Halapio
Projection: Round 6
Analysis: “I always thought Halapio was a late-round guy and still do. I got him as a sixth-rounder. He’s a nice player. He’s not great. He may be able to develop into a starter, but he’s not standing out as a starter now. He moves well for a big lineman. He’s got a variety of skills. Even though he had the shoulder injury, he plays like his hair is on fire. He’s an intense guy who goes hard; those are always good to have around. I think he’s a late-round guy, a sixth-round guy who you keep on the depth chart and maybe he develops into a starter down the line. I think he’s got the ability to play within a variety of blocking schemes.”

Wide receiver Solomon Patton
Projection: Rounds 6-7
Analysis: “I think Patton is really underrated. Patton’s got size limitations, obviously, but the fact is this: he’s a speedy slot receiver who can be used as a return specialist. I think Patton, if he’s used correctly and given the opportunity, he can make the next level as a fifth receiver. Patton could definitely get drafted late on the third day.”

Tight end Trey Burton
Projection: Round 7 or priority undrafted free agent
Analysis: “I like Burton. He’s been pigeonholed as a tight end/H-back/move tight end. I think in the right system you may be able to use him as a fifth possession receiver. He’s not the fastest guy, but he’s got good size, good hands. He obviously plays intelligent football. He’s not a stupid guy. I have him right now as a tight end, but in the right opportunity he can make it as a move tight end or fifth receiver if you ask him to run underneath routes and use him in the red zone. Burton I consider a priority free agent. I don’t think he’s going to get drafted, but he could be snatched up in the seventh round.”

Defensive tackle Damien Jacobs
Projection: Undrafted free agent
Analysis: “Jacobs is not bad. He plays hard. He’s fiery. He’s more athletic than his numbers would lend you to believe. He doesn’t have a big body of work, but I think he’s going to be signed as a free agent and have an opportunity to make it as a tackle on a four-man line.”

Center Jonotthan Harrison
Projection: Undrafted free agent
Analysis: “I like watching Harrison on film but I don’t think he projects all that well to the next level. He looks like a small-area mauler, a slug-it-out lineman who is best in a phone booth. He’s only 303 pounds, so he doesn’t really have the size to be a power blocker or ball-control lineman at the next level. I don’t have him being selected in the draft.”

Linebacker Darrin Kitchens
Projection: Unsigned
Analysis: “Kitchens just does not project as an NFL-caliber player.”

Photo Credit: CBS Sports

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