Ladies and gentlemen, NFL Draft Week 2014 is finally upon us — and thank goodness. While some football fans haven't enjoyed the extra few weeks between the college football season and NFL Draft, it has changed the draft stock of a few players in this draft class, including those coming out of the University of Florida.
The seemingly endless process that has frustrated fans has cost those players money.
Here's an overview of where everyone carrying the orange and blue banner stands.
The first-day threat
Prior to his second ACL tear, Easley was considered to be one of the top defensive linemen in all of college football. But it wasn't until re-evaluating his tape at the end of the season that scouts and draft enthusiasts realized his certain abilities have a chance to translate, and help Easley dominate at the next level.
Easley's biggest knock will be his health and durability, and he faces questions about whether this major injury will be his last. If it is, the consensus around the league is that he's worth a first-round selection, but that risk seems to cover some of his potential in the eyes of NFL executives.
The second-day possibilities
Purifoy struggled to find his fit during his tenure at Florida. Was he a cornerback? A nickel corner? Could he have been better at safety? Unfortunately, his three years there didn't answer any of those questions, and produced tape with splash plays as a blitzer and coverage woes aplenty.
Purifoy is a long, athletic corner with a limited understanding of coverage adjustments. Most scouts wish he would have stayed another year in school, but here he is, now hoping to land as high as the third round.
Midway through the 2013 college football season, national NFL Draft writers like Matt Miller of Bleacher Report and Dane Brugler of CBS Sports had Roberson as a borderline first-round cornerback. However, after watching him struggle through small injuries and getting a look at him at Florida's Pro Day, scouts don't agree.
My thought process with Roberson is that he declared because the NFL Draft Advisory Council vastly overvalued him or he's getting some bad advice. He's not even the best cornerback in Florida's class this year, and he, like Purifoy, is hoping someone takes a liking to him.
Watkins went under the radar as an NFL prospect for much of his time at Florida, but it seems as though Purifoy and Roberson getting all the attention entering the pre-Draft process may have actually gotten Watkins some well-deserved recognition: He showed up his former teammates repeatedly, from the Senior Bowl to the NFL Combine to Florida's Pro Day.
Watkins has emerged as the top cornerback prospect in Florida's group and a player I've heard a nice buzz about from scouts. Versatility is his key: His ability to play outside corner, nickel corner and even drop back to a safety spot makes him valuable in complex modern secondaries. Watkins is in range for the second round.
Halapio is a tough lineman who played through a serious injury this year — only now is he fully recovering from a torn pectoral muscle. He wasn't able to show his strength at the NFL Scouting Combine, but certainly made up for that at Florida's Pro Day, putting up 32 reps on the bench press.
Halapio's stock isn't Day 1 or Day 2 high, but some NFL teams are noticing him. He's one of the stronger run-blocking offensive guards, and for that, I'm expecting he'll be an early Day 3 pick.
A major knee injury sidelined Powell for a key year in the middle of his time at Florida. As a former No. 1 overall recruit coming out of high school, Powell has a lot of talent left in that body. If it holds up — and some team will take a risk on that, trust me — he could make a career out of filling in as a 3-4 OLB. The interest is there for a fifth- or sixth-round selection.
The problem with Patton's career at Florida was fit: He was misused as an X receiver; Patton wins much more as a quick-hit Y (or slot) receiver.
He's versatile in the kick return game and that's something that will really help his stock. I've heard a few teams take notice of his returning abilities, and if they see that on a consistent basis in camp, he'll get a chance at receiver as well. I think he gets drafted late.
Harrison's final year at Florida was plagued by injuries and a lack of chemistry along the line; he was a good player trapped on a bad unit. He's a nice run-blocking center, but it hurts him that this center class is good. With teams not reaching for centers — and I'm not sure how smoothly Harrison can move to guard — his draft stock is that of a seventh round hopeful.
The problem with Burton's stock isn't a lack of talent, it's fit. Where does a team put him? In Watkins's case, versatility is good, but in Burton's case, it's kind of hurt him, because he wasn't an NFL-caliber at anything in college or the pre-Draft process. If he gets drafted, it's late, but I doubt it.
Kitchens was a fill-in linebacker for most of his time at UF, and that doesn't really help his chance to get drafted, given his lack of tape. With the draft all about value, Kitchens doesn't present much that enough teams would covet to be worth a draft selection. I think Kitchen deserves a camp invite and I expect him to get it, but I'm not so sure he'll get drafted.
This year's defensive tackle class is deep, and though Jacobs can be a mean, tough defensive tackle, I think the class is too strong for enough team to show draft interest. His slow 40 times at Florida's Pro Day didn't help his cause, either.
Trevor writes about the NFL Draft at Road to Radio City and previously covered Florida's Pro Day for Alligator Army. He also graduated from the University of Florida this weekend, so congrats, I guess.