Well, that was fun, wasn't it?
If you know me, you know I'm a lover of the NFL Draft, so when I say I enjoyed this past draft weekend, you probably don't give that much unbiased merit. But, when I say this draft was surprisingly fun to track and analyze, I mean it! For a draft that was categorized as "weak or "boring" before it even began, we saw quite a few teams make great strides for their franchises, and to be honest, we didn't see many (if any) terrible classes.
The Florida Gators were well-represented throughout the NFL Draft, with eight players selected — my personal over/under was seven. For Dante Fowler, D.J. Humphries, Chaz Green, Matt Jones, Max Garcia, Neiron Ball, Andre Debose, and Trenton Brown, the weekend was surely a dream come true.
But as my favorite NFL Draft quote goes, "There comes a time when names on a page become careers on a field, and teams must face the consequences of their choices." Draft grades the week after the picks are made don't really mean much: They're expressions of opinions on the future, not concrete facts. However, the draft is all about value, and selecting talent higher or lower than their perceived market value does give some insight to how a team fared on draft weekend.
With that said, let's round up some draft grades around the web for each Gators pick.
Dante Fowler Jr. had been a consensus top-10 pick for most of the offseason. So his selection by the Jaguars at No. 3 didn't come at much of a surprise. CBS rated the Fowler pick as a B+ because the writer would've taken Leonard Williams, who fell all the way to No. 6. Our friends over at Big Cat Country, SB Nation's Jaguars blog, gave the class an A, and appear to have given the Fowler pick a B+ as well. Finally, Mocking the Draft's Dan Kadar gave the pick an A. Fowler is now tied for the record of highest Gator ever drafted — and it doesn't seem like anyone thinks he was a reach.
With the La'el Collins situation unfolding, and Brandon Scherff gone by pick No. 5, teams had to reach to take offensive tackles in the first few rounds. That benefitted D.J. Humphries, who was selected 24th by the Arizona Cardinals. CBS gave this one a B+, stating Humphries would be a much better pro than he was in college (shrugs). SB Nation's Cardinals blog Revenge of the Birds gave it a B, saying it was a boring pick, but noted (correctly, I may add), that there were OTs still on the board who could've had a bigger impact in their rookie years. (This is true.) And, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. gave the Humphries pick a C+, explaining it was too much of a reach for the lower production they'll get in his first season. Are you getting the feeling that Humphries is raw yet?
Who would've thought Chaz Green would be the third Gator taken? PUT THAT HAND DOWN YOU, LIAR. Green goes to a great spot in Dallas -- as I stated in my player mock for him pre-draft. CBS calls it a bit of a reach, and assesses a B- grade, but clearly his talent is fine if it was still a B. Bleacher Report gave it a B- as well. Kiper hated the pick because he thought it was a "massive reach": C+, he says.
Matt Jones will have quite the competition in Washington as the team's seventh running back on the roster. For that reason, CBS gave the pick a C-. Kiper loved Washintgon's draft overall, giving them an A-, and Fansided and the Washington Post both graded the pick as a B.
Max Garcia was given special attention from the Broncos ever since the Senior Bowl. It's cool to see a relationship not be a smokescreen when it comes to the draft, and for that, I couldn't be happier with Garcia keeping his orange and blue. CBS liked this pick a lot, delivering a B+ grade. Our friends over at Mile High Report seemed to like it as well, with high B and low A grades. And Rant Sports, which is by far the most pointless, ad-annoying, difficult website I've ever been to, gave the pick a B+.
I'm proud of Neiron Ball. He's battled against circumstances beyond his control for most of his life, and he's rewarded, if for a moment, with seeing his name pop up on that screen. As for the fit in Oakland, he'll be playing the Will LB in their 4-3 (I hope). CBS didn't love it, giving the pick a reaction grade of C, because Ball "didn't play a lot," and Silver and Black Pride echoed that thought, noting Ball was viewed by some as undraftable before handing out a C-.
When I gave my over/under of seven Gators drafted, Andre Debose was always the one who could have tipped the scale to the over. On Saturday, the Raiders made sure he did. CBS loved the pick, giving it a B grade and saying this could be the "perfect spot for a classic underachiever." Silver and Black Pride noted the Florida theme, but gave the Debose pick a C+ since he'll be strictly a return man.
Finally, we come to the earth-moving Trenton Brown.
Side note: At the Florida spring game, I was sitting with some friends of mine who are Miami fans. (They wanted to see what fans in a stadium were like.) As we watched, we naturally began to talk some NFL draft. I told them Florida would have at least four offensive linemen taken; one of them scoffed. So a gentleman's wager came to be, with the stakes taking the form of a Zinger Mountain Melt from Ale House. I won the bet. It will taste so good.
CBS graded this out as a C- because Brown is a "boom or bust" pick, to which I respond, "Dude, it's the seventh round..." Bleacher Report didn't mind the pick, giving it a B, and our blog over at Niners Nation found out not many experts liked the 49ers' haul at all.
Several Florida Gators (and former Gators) will also have shots to make rosters via the undrafted free agent route. Here's what we know about those players at moment.
Kyle Christy - camp invite with the Vikings
Quinton Dunbar - signed with Washington
Clay Burton - signed with Buffalo
Darious Cummings - signed with Carolina
Leon Orr - signed with Raiders
Cody Riggs (Notre Dame) - signed with Titans
Tyler Murphy (Boston College) - signed with Steelers
Mike Taylor - unknown
Jabari Gorman - unknown