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Florida’s Vosean Joseph declares for 2019 NFL Draft

VoJo has some tantalizing traits, but some bad film, too.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida Gators junior linebacker Vosean Joseph will forgo his senior season of eligibility and enter the 2019 NFL Draft, he announced in a tweet on Wednesday.

Joseph tallied 93 tackles to lead Florida in 2018, though David Reese averaged more stops per game, and ranked third on the roster in tackles for loss (nine) and sacks (four) behind the tandem of defensive ends Jachai Polite and Jabari Zuniga.

Known as an instinctive player and big hitter, Joseph has good size and speed for the linebacker position, and has created his share of highlights as a Gator — ones he retweeted en masse on Tuesday, in a rather unsubtle tipping of his hand — but still has a lot of improvements to make to his coverage skills and discipline as a run defender if he is going to stick in the NFL.

And he is also the least likely early entrant of Florida’s five to announce their departures from Gainesville through Wednesday.

The Gators had to know they were likely to lose Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Jachai Polite, Jordan Scarlett, and Jawaan Taylor, all of whom are either set to be picked relatively early in the NFL Draft and/or would be foolish to return. Joseph is the first Gator to announce a decision to leave Florida in this cycle with significant room for improvement still possible at the collegiate level, and his departure is the one that could potentially end up looking like a bad call should he linger until the late rounds of the draft.

But it is also not hard to see a team choosing to value Joseph for his positive traits and see his upside rather than to fault him for his deficiencies, and so it would not be entirely shocking if he comes off the board earlier than some project.

In any case, Florida should be fine at linebacker even without Joseph’s experience and big-play potential. The Gators have reloaded at every linebacker position over the past two recruiting classes, and should see junior David Reese, an undersized workhorse with limited NFL appeal, return for his senior season as the anchor of their linebacker corps.