LSU and Alabama are the only schools ahead of the Gators on the list of the most players selected from the South Eastern Conference for the NFL Combine. The event will begin the 22nd of February and end on the 25th. All eight of the players representing Florida have much to gain with strong performances at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Loucheiz Purifoy is a First round talent at Corner. Measuring at 6 foot 185 lbs he has the prototypical size for a player at his position in the NFL. Despite the Gators flaws Purifoy has had a solid season and held his own against some of the best Wide Receivers College football had to offer over the past two seasons. He was apart of Muschamps initial recruiting class in 2011, and has played in 37 games during his 3 year career. Considering that Loucheiz was also a track athlete in high school specializing in the triple jump and the long jump he should do particularly well in the broad and vertical jump portion of the Combine which is what NFL coaches want to see from their 1st round corners. His biggest concern should be lighting up the 40 yard dash which seems to be what makes or breaks athletes this time of year. His best game of his career came this year against Arkansas where he had interception return for a Touchdown and a sack that resulted in a forced fumble. He also has an interception on Heisman trophy winning quarterback Jameis Winston which will do a great deal to bolster his resume.
Marcus Roberson is also considered a top Defensive Back this year, and with a big display at the Combine, could join Purifoy in the First round discussion. 2013 was an injury filled season for Roberson seeing action in only 7 games. His decision to leave early may attract skepticism, but his ability to lock down the best Receivers the SEC had to offer over the last 3 season speaks for itself. Roberson has been a guy that UF has constantly put on an island with any teams number one guy, that skill set is rare and highly desirable at the next level. His last full season as a Gator, Marcus recorded 12 Pass breakups, a stat that hasn't been seen since Joe Haden wore the Blue and Orange in 2008. Considering that he was only a Sophomore when he accomplished that feat should impress any NFL scout. His opponent list reads like a Prize fighter in his prime, inlcuding names like Mike Evans from TAMU, Cordale Patterson of Tennessee, Marlon Brown of Georgia, Doral Green Beckham of Mizzou, and Odell Beckham of LSU. Look for him to be a big mover on draft boards when teams start to realize his potential moving forward in the draft process.
Possibly the best pure Football player UF has had graced the field of glory in recent years, Dominique Easley is out to prove that an ACL problem won't limit his professional success. If Easley stayed healthy this season, the Senior was on course to a All American show case. A consensus pre-season First Team SEC selection, Nagurski, Lombardi, and Outland award watch-list player, big things were in the work for this Monster at the Defensive Tackle position. His stats may not jump out at you, but his presence was felt every single down he was on the field. Persistently destroying double teams and constantly ruining offensive game plans, Easley's draft stock will continue to rise when the scouts meet him this weekend. Dominique was selected by the UF staff and players for the Greg See Tenacity Award and Jame W. Kynes Award for mental and physical toughness. In 2012 he recorded a team high 4 sacks, which could be accredited to the outstanding motor he possesses. His best game of his career came during the Sugar Bowl in 2013 against Teddy Bridgewater's Louisville team. He had 5 total tackles that night and 3.5 Tackles for a loss. Even though it was a defeat for the Gators, Easley's beast mode performance was one the few bright spots on the field.
This highlight shows that no matter where Dominique Easley is on the line he is a force to be reckoned with. I can only compare him to Sheldon Richardson of the New York Jets and if all goes well he could have that kind of impact to any team lucky enough to have taken a chance on him.
Trey Burton is, for lack of better words, an extremely interesting prospect. He has been a versatile player during his time for the Gators, playing Tight End, Slot Reciever, Fullback, Quarterback, and in certain packages Wingback. His size and speed has got to have NFL coaches intrigued. At 6'3 228 lbs he is a rare specimen. Because he does not have a specific position it will be very tough to grade him and could land somewhere in the late rounds, if he doesn't have a stellar pre-draft workout. Burton has been a playmaker for UF, and because of need has had to play positions that he may not have adapted to as well as he would like. Trey is a natural in the backfield and very comparable to a Delanie Walker type. A Fullback who is a constant threat in the passing game .After this weekend we'll have more of an idea of where in the draft Burton will land.
Here is a highlight of his historic 6 touchdown game against Kentucky.
Two of the Gators stand out Offensive linemen are graduating this year. Jon Halapio and Jonotthan Harrison have been the rocks that held the interior line in the post-Pouncey error. Halapio has started every game except for 2 at Right Guard over the past 3 years for Florida. Harrison has started every single game at Center over the past 2 seasons, his best game came in 2012 when he graded out a 92% against a tenacious Seminole Defensive line. Halapio has recorded tremendous games against LSU, TAMU, and FSU during the 2012 season, each of these opponents had quality D-lines and the tape should make his case for an early round pick. They were both selected as team captains over the past two seasons, and with that have a leadership quality that is necessary for NFL offensive linemen.
Ro-Po decided to leave early, and it will be sad to see him go. After an injury sidelined Powell in 2012, he came back with a vengeance. Leading the Gators in both sacks(4) and Quarterback hurries(8), second on the team in Tackles for loss(7) last season. Ronald was awarded the Chris Patrick Courage Award for battling back through injuries. In 2011 he was 4th on the team with 9 Tackles for a loss, and led the Gators with 6 sacks. His resume is impressive and shows that he knows how to tackle adversity. NFL coaches will get to know what this stud athlete is made of when they hold personal interviews with him over the weekend. His measurables are among the best Pass rushers in the country and could play Defensive End, Outside linebacker, or a hybrid backer at the next level. Powell has a variety of pass rush and run defense techniques that he has showcased against the country's elite Tackles during his time at the Swamp. His stock is rising and there's no telling how high he will be selected after the completion of series of workouts. At 6'4 240 lbs what more could a scout ask for?
Here's a look at him during the pinnacle of his 2011 campaign against the Seminoles.
Jaylen Watkins another prospect with the extremely interesting tag attached to his name. During his senior season he played both the Corner and Safety positions. He definitely has the frame of a NFL player at 6 foot 190 lbs. His best season came in 2012 where he had 3 picks and 8 pass break ups. Over the course of his career Watkins has had 21 pass break ups and 133 tackles. What position he plays at the next level is the big question for Watkins, but again we will have a better idea of that over the weekend. Its safe to say that he will be drafted, but when and where is a grey area.
Then there are some that got the short end of the stick and were not invited to the combine. Solomon Patton leads that list, a great talent and personally I am very interested to see how he performs during UF's pro day. Damien Jacobs and Darrin Kitchens were tough Gators who will definitely get some attention in the days leading to the draft, but only time will tell if they possess the talent evaluators are searching for.