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Ranking every Florida Gator in the NFL at the start of the 2022 season

Some Gators are unicorns. Others may be facing legal action. In conclusion, this is a world of contrasts.

New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Edward M. Pio Roda/Getty Images

It’s been a wild few weeks for many NFL players. The final cutdown day of the preseason was last week, but in reality, that only set off another frenzy of signings and moves by every team in the league. In the end, 33 former Gators will begin the 2022 season on active rosters, another 10 are on practice squads, and a handful remain just a phone call away from returning to the league.

Back in August, 52 former Gators were in an NFL training camp. Amid the carnage of the almost 20 cuts were some genuine surprises. There was also a shocking trade involving one of the best Gators in the league.

Even with active rosters set for the opening week, there will be an opportunity for those on the outside looking in to get back into the league. Injuries and poor performances may have meant cuts for some Gators, but when those bugs bite other players, it could mean opportunity being just around the corner for the former Florida stalwarts. (I’d be especially surprised if two veteran corners aren’t back in the league very soon, for example.)

What follows is a breakdown of every Gator who was on a roster this August — or on the periphery a phone call away. Just a refresher on who is considered a former Gator. If a player played mostly with Florida — and put up most of his stats — before transferring, you’ll find them below. Think Janoris Jenkins, Jeff Driskel, and Feleipe Franks. If a player played only a little in Gainesville before going on to success elsewhere, he isn’t tracked — Jacoby Brissett and Will Grier, for example, are not being tracked here.

A Quiet Summer Doesn’t Bode Well For These Vets

Brian Poole

DB / Free agent / Five years on active roster

2021: Did Not Play

Career: 299 tackles, 7 INT, 6.0 sacks

Poole spent time with the Saints, Patriots, and Colts in 2021 while battling injuries. He was active for a game in Indianapolis but didn’t see the field. When healthy, he’s proven to be a very productive nickel corner and it’s surprising he wasn’t invited to a camp. It suggests Poole’s injuries have taken a toll.

Vernon Hargreaves III

CB / Free agent / Six years

2021: 32 tackles, 1 INT, 3 PD

Career: 290 tackles, 4 INT

Hargreaves’s most memorable moment in 2021 was obviously when he was flagged for celebrating in the Super Bowl in street clothes as an inactive player. (It’s still funny. — Andy) The former first-round pick worked out with the Bears in early August but remains unsigned.

Johnny Townsend

P / Free agent / Three years

2021: 13 punts, 42.8 avg

Career: 85 punts, 43.3 avg

Townsend hasn’t been able to find a home since the Raiders cut him after his rookie season. He’s filled in for three different teams over the past two seasons, spending a week here and there with the Ravens, Titans, and Chiefs — where he subbed for his brother.

Lerentee McCray

OLB / Free agent / Seven years

2021: 11 tackles

Career: 75 tackles, 4.0 sacks, 2 forced fumbles

McCray carved out a solid career as a special teams ace. He was also arrested in January and his lawyer said it was due to “a significant mental health crisis.” Let’s hope McCray gets the help he needs to live a long, healthy life post-football.

Jordan Scarlett

RB / Free agent / Two years

2021: 1 G, 16 snaps on special teams, no stats

Career: 10 G, 4 rush, 9 yards, 1 tackle, 1 fumble recovery

Scarlett spent most of 2021 out of football before the Dolphins added him to their practice squad and activated him for one game late in the season. He played for the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League this summer, but did not get invited to a NFL camp.

Jon Halapio

OL / Free agent / Three years

2021: Did Not Play

Career: 27 G, 23 starts

Halapio spent part of last season on the 49ers’ practice squad. He hasn’t played in a game since 2019.

Brett Heggie

C / Free agent

2021: Did not play

Heggie was in the Giants’ training camp last year, and then spent a few weeks on the Raiders’ practice squad. Vegas waived him in May and no one offered a camp spot this year.

Cut Down But Hopefully Not Out

Jonotthan Harrison

C / Cut by Atlanta Falcons / Six years

2021: Did Not Play

Career: 84 G, 42 starts

After an injury-plagued 2021, Harrison was hoping to re-establish himself in the NFL with a strong camp in Atlanta. The Falcons have had all kinds of offensive line issues, so the opening was there, but he couldn’t take advantage — a couple of false starts in the preseason didn’t help. He’s seen lots of action at center and can play both guard slots and that versatility could be huge in finding a spot later this season.

Quincy Wilson

DB / Cut by Miami Dolphins / Fifth year

2021: Did not play

Career: 62 tackles, 2 INT

Wilson missed all of last season and has played only 12 games since 2018. Unfortunately, he was a non-factor for his hometown squad, despite the Dolphins’ lack of healthy corners.

Duke Dawson

CB / Cut by Carolina Panthers / Third year

2021: Did not play

Career: 26 games, 27 tackles, 2 PD, 1 fumble recovery

Dawson was having a nice camp and making a push to make the 53 in Carolina.

Then the dreaded injury bug bit again — for what seems like the eighth time as a pro — and Dawson was released with an injury settlement. The former second-round pick missed all of his rookie season in New England and was traded to Denver without ever playing a game for the Patriots. He played 26 games in 2019 and 2020 as a backup and special teamer before missing most of 2021.

Bryan Cox, Jr.

DE / Cut by Indianapolis Colts / Four years

2021: Did Not Play

Career: 26 G, 31 tackles, 0.5 sack

Cox spent all of 2021 on injured reserve. He signed with the Colts this summer but they cut him early in training camp.

Chaz Green

OT / Cut by Pittsburgh Steelers / Five years

2021: 2 G, 4 ST snaps

Career: 39 G, 8 starts

Green keeps hanging around the edge of the league, ready to fill in when teams are desperate for tackle help. He’ll be filling that role once again this year.

Shawn Davis

S / Cut by Green Bay Packers / One year

2021: 1 G, 1 tackle

Davis was having a tremendous camp and looked poised to be the third safety for the Packers this season.

Then he injured his knee and Green Bay, beset by injuries to safeties all preseason, decided to cut him. There is hope the injury isn’t too severe and Davis gets an opportunity somewhere.

Josh Hammond

WR / Cut by New England Patriots / One year

2021: 2 G, 13 OFF snaps, 2 ST snaps

Hammond spent almost his entire first two seasons on the Jaguars’ practice squad before getting called up and seeing game action in the final two games of 2021. The Eagles picked him up this summer, released him right as camp opened, and now he’s been cut by the Patriots as well.

Donovan Stiner

S / Cut by Pittsburgh Steelers

2021: Did not play

Stiner spent all of 2021 on the Steelers’ practice squad and was hoping for another go-around. He led Pittsburgh in missed tackles this preseason, a glaring issue that needs to be solved if he hopes to continue his career.

Jean Delance

OT / Cut by Chicago Bears

The Bears’ offensive line has been a mess, but even still, Delance’s only hope was a practice squad spot. At the end of the preseason, he was waived with a non-football illness designation. Delance worked out for San Francisco last week but remains unsigned.

Antonio Valentino

DT / Cut by Seattle Seahawks

Valentino spent a couple weeks with the Seahawks but didn’t survive the first round of roster cuts. Seattle was actually his second team after he signed with and was waived by the Giants in the spring. Although the stint was short, at the very least he saw what the Pacific Northwest is all about.

Practice Squad Players

Freddie Swain

Position: WR

Team: Miami Dolphins

Years: 2

2021: 25 rec, 343 yards, 4 TD, 5 rush, 32 yards, 22 punt ret, 189 yards, 8.6 avg

Career: 38 rec, 502 yds, 6 TD

Swain doubled his snaps and production from his rookie year and appeared to be locked in as Seattle’s third receiver. But as a late-round draft pick, he will always be fighting for a job and this year, he lost the fight. It was a bit of a surprise to see the sure-handed Swain drop so many passes this preseason and ultimately that cost him his job. The Dolphins plucked him up and he’ll have a chance to fill a special teams and depth role if Miami gets hit with any injuries.

Max Garcia

Position: C/G

Team: New York Giants

Years: 7

2021: 15 G, 11 S

Career: 93 G, 52 starts

Last season, Garcia had some rough highlight-reel moments against Aaron Donald - who doesn’t - and when he had to play center, but overall played well enough at guard to earn selection as a Pro Bowl alternate. I thought his ability to play both guard spots and center made him a lock for the Giants’ 53-man roster but he’s down on the practice squad to start the season.

Jarrad Davis

Position: LB

Team: Detroit Lions

Years: 5

2021: 9 G, 5 starts, 25 tackles

Davis returned to Detroit where he was a first-round pick back in 2017 looking to get his career back on track. He looked fresh and energetic early on and made an impression with improved pass coverage.

If you’ve been watching Hard Knocks, you could probably see the writing on the wall for Davis as a rookie linebacker nicknamed Rodrigo - Malcolm Rodriguez - became the darling of the coaching staff. The Lions chose youth over experience and cut Davis. He’s back on the practice squad, a clear sign they value his leadership and believe he can still contribute in some capacity.

La’Mical Perine

Position: RB

Team: Philadelphia Eagles

Years: 2

2021: 4 G, 8 rush, 31 yds

Career: 72 rush, 263 yds, 2 TD, 11 rec, 63 yds

The writing was on the wall for four months after the Jets drafted their third running back in as many years. Perine had already seen his playing time go from 200 offensive snaps his rookie season to 24 last year. It’s just a shame the cut came despite staying healthy through camp.

He went out fighting with a good preseason - 60 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown. I still really like Perine and think he can be a longtime backup in the league.

The Eagles have a recent history of plugging in a number of running backs throughout the season, so don’t be surprised to see Perine get activated at some point this fall.

Teez Tabor

Position: DB

Team: Atlanta Falcons

Years: 3

2021: 6 G, 1 start, 8 tackles

Career: 50 tackles, 1 QB hit

Tabor found himself on his third NFL team in Atlanta, but was really finding himself in Atlanta this preseason. He had an excellent camp and seemed to be making plays every week.

Tabor returned to the league last year after two seasons on the outside and seemed to have finally figured out what it takes to play in the NFL. That’s what made his initial cut so painful. The Falcons brought him back, and he’ll be on the active roster eventually.

Jeff Driskel

Position: QB

Team: Houston Texans

Years: 4

2021: 1 G, 10 special teams snaps

Career: 202/345 passing, 59% comp, 13 TD, 8 INT, 53 rush, 309 yds, 3 TD

Driskel flirted with a hybrid role last season in Houston before breaking his collarbone. His return to being just a quarterback resulted in being cut. Now back on the practice squad, maybe the Texans will flirt again with seeing if Driskel can contribute as a tight end.

David Sharpe

Position: OT

Team: Baltimore Ravens

Years: 5

2021: 3 G, 67 snaps

Career: 37 G, 6 starts

Sharpe is back in the same role he had last season - on the Ravens’ practice squad, insurance for offensive line injuries.

Jabari Zuniga

Position: DE

Team: Seattle Seahawks


2021: 3 G, 3 tackles, 1.0 sack, 1 FF, 1 QB hit

Career: 11 G, 8 tackles, 1.0 sack

Zuniga has struggled to shed the bust label and produce in the NFL and the Jets decided to move on. He had a strong camp before not doing much in preseason action. The rebuilding Seahawks took a flyer and will try to develop Zuniga into a consistent edge rusher.

Malik Davis

Position: RB

Team: Dallas Cowboys

When Davis signed with Dallas after the draft, I thought his chances of making the 53-man roster were pretty slim. But after attending a couple of Cowboys’ training camp practices, I was impressed by Davis. He looked really fast and explosive and made a strong push to make the opening day roster behind Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard.

In the end, the Cowboys decided on veteran Rico Dowdle over the rookie as their third running back. Davis is back on the practice squad, though, and I’ll be shocked if he isn’t called up to the active roster at some point.

Jeremiah Moon

Position: OLB

Team: Baltimore Ravens

Moon had a chance to make the Ravens but just didn’t do enough in camp and exhibitions to secure a spot as an edge rusher and special teamer. His most memorable moment was a roughing the passer penalty in the first preseason game. His elite physical tools made him a no-brainer for a stash and develop slot on the practice squad.

Only a Matter of Time

Joe Haden

Position: CB

Team: Free Agent

Years: 12

2021: 38 tackles, 6 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery

Career: 615 tackles, 29 INT, 3.0 sacks

Haden is a free agent with plenty of interest around the league. The three-time Pro Bowler is waiting on the right fit to open up and should join a team soon. Although he did not have an interception last season, he’s still a valuable outside corner.

Janoris Jenkins

Position: CB

Team: Free Agent

Years: 10

2021: 54 tackles, 1 INT, 6 PD, 1 FF

Career: 576 tackles, 27 INT, 2.0 sacks

Much like Haden, every team with cornerback injuries has been linked to Jenkins the past two weeks. He was cut in March by Tennessee and remains on the lookout for a new team. He’s clearly not the same player he was at his best, but he can be productive and should find a role at some point, perhaps after Week 1 when veteran contracts aren’t vested anymore. Jackrabbit still has some run in him.

This Could Be a Special Rookie Class

Kaiir Elam

Position: CB

Team: Buffalo Bills

Drafted: 1st round, 23rd overall

The Bills took Elam to be the starter opposite All-Pro Tre’Davious White. Elam was up and down in training camp and in the first preseason game.

In exhibitions two and three, Elam played much better. With White still on PUP, Elam should start the season opener and if he keeps playing like this, he’ll never come off the field.

Zach Carter

Position: DL

Team: Cincinnati Bengals

Drafted: 3rd round, 95th overall

Carter is flashing in Cincinnati. He’s playing defensive tackle mostly so far and is going to have a rotational role on the Bengals defense.

Dameon Pierce

Position: RB

Team: Houston Texans

Drafted: 4th round, 107th overall

If I beat the Pierce drum any harder, I’d have broken my arms. I’ve been preaching how much of a steal he was going to be since February.

The bandwagon has been picking up steam all offseason and after his training camp and preseason, it’s approaching maximum capacity. If you want Pierce on your fantasy team, you’re going to have to get him early. It would not shock me to see him finish as a top-15 fantasy RB. He’s a dude — as seemingly everyone except Dan Mullen has known.

Last year my weekly recap was often a love letter to Kyle Pitts. This year, Pierce may steal my affection.

Veterans on Active Rosters for 2022, Ranked

#30: Kyle Trask

Position: QB

Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Years: 1

2021: Did Not Play

Trask spent all of 2021 on the 53-man roster but was never active. He might face the same fate again this year. Redshirt seasons and sitting behind other quarterbacks are nothing new for Trask of course. In the first preseason game of the year, Trask showed out with some beautiful throws. If you checked Bucs twitter three weeks ago, Trask was the worst QB on the planet based on a few bad practices. After the first preseason game, he was back to a future building block.

The second preseason game didn’t go as well with a pick and a couple of fumbles, but there were still moments that show why he has a shot at unseating Blaine Gabbert as Tom Brady’s backup.

Game three saw more highlights for Trask.

It seems as if playing time leads to progress for him! Weird how that works!

#29 - Stone Forsythe

Position: OT

Team: Seattle Seahawks

Years: 1

2021: 10 G, 14 OFF snaps, 44 ST snaps

Forsythe secured the Seahawks’ backup swing tackle spot with a solid preseason. Despite being a sixth-rounder last season, Seattle kept him on the 53-man roster all of 2021 for a reason. Pete Carroll loves his size and power on the edge and has been impressed by the improvements he’s made from year one to year two.

#28 - Feleipe Franks

Position: QB/TE

Team: Atlanta Falcons

Years: 1

2021: 3 rush, 6 yds, 0/1 passing, INT

Franks is currently listed as the third-string quarterback and tight end on the Falcons’ depth chart. By all accounts, he’s been impressive picking up the tight end position although he didn’t see much action there in preseason games - one catch for five yards. The Falcons are hoping he can be a Taysom Hill-like weapon for them, although I don’t think I’ve seen Hill run someone over like Franks did to former Gator Teez Tabor in practice.

#27 - Tyrie Cleveland

Position: WR

Team: Denver Broncos

Years: 2

2021: 7 G, 4 tackles, 1 target

Career: 6 rec, 63 yds, 6 tackles

Cleveland made the roster in Denver despite missing a good chunk of the preseason with a throat injury. His elite special teams skills were enough to keep him in the league for now. Eventually he’s going to have to produce as a fourth or fifth receiver too, but many players have made nice careers out of being aces on punt and kick coverage.

#26 - Fred Johnson

Position: OT

Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Years: 3

2021: 5 G, 1 start

Career: 23 G, 8 starts

Johnson could never crack steady playing time in Cincinnati despite showing promise and the Bengals struggling with pass protection. That tells you he’s far from a finished product. In Tampa, he benefited by a rash of offensive line injuries and will start the season as a swing tackle. He’s played guard before as well so could see some action there too.

#25 - Marco Wilson

Position: CB

Team: Arizona Cardinals

Years: 1

2021: 14 G, 13 starts, 48 tackles, 1 TFL, 4 PD, 2 FF

Wilson was a day one starter as a rookie last season, but struggled at times - 120.8 passer rating against. He battled through a groin injury early in camp this year and appears to have played well enough to keep his starting position despite the Cardinals trading for corner Trayvon Mullen last week.

#24 - Eddy Pineiro

Position: K

Team: Carolina Panthers

Years: 2

2021: 8/8 FG, 9/10 XP

Career: 31/36 FG, 36/39 XP

After losing a camp battle to veteran Greg Zuerlein, I was once again asking why the NFL hates Eddy Pineiro so much. Pineiro was hurt or cut in training camp in 2018, 2020, and 2021. This despite always performing well. Even after salvaging the Jets kicking situation halfway through the 2021 season and becoming a cult hero to fans - perfect on all eight field goals he attempted for New York - he was still cut this August.

Now Pineiro has new life in Carolina. He’s made 19 straight field goals going back to 2019. With a Panthers offense that figures to be good but not great, he should have plenty of chances to extend that streak.

#23 - Taven Bryan

Position: DT

Team: Cleveland Browns

Years: 4

2021: 2.0 sacks, 15 tackles, 4 TFL, 8 QB hits

Career: 86 tackles, 5.5 sacks

Bryan was a massive disappointment in Jacksonville but gets new life in Cleveland. He has flashed some potential this preseason and is currently listed as a starter. Sandwiched on a defensive line between Myles Garrett and Jadaveon Clowney could be a good way to rebirth a career.

#22 - Jon Bostic

Position: LB

Team: Washington Commanders

Years: 8

2021: 22 tackles, 1 TFL

Career: 559 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 3 INT

It was a wild couple of weeks for Bostic. He signed with New Orleans and played well in the preseason - PFF’s fourth-highest-graded linebacker. He was one of the final cuts by the Saints, and now he’s back with Washington. The Commanders and coach Ron Rivera are familiar with Bostic - he was a starter from 2019-2021. A pec injury sidelined him for most of last season but he battled back and brings depth and experience to the young Commanders’ defense.

#21 - Jonathan Bullard

Position: DL

Team: Minnesota Vikings

Years: 6

2021: 9 G, 21 tackles, 1 PD, 1 QB hit

Career: 113 tackles, 3.5 sacks

You’ve officially reached journeyman status when you’re on your fifth team in five seasons. That’s not to say Bullard won’t help the Vikings. He’s a solid backup on the interior line and although it’s a far cry from the impact player I expected him to be when he left Gainesville, it’s a respectable role.

#20 - C.J. Henderson

Position: CB

Team: Carolina Panthers

Years: 2

2021: 12 G, 7 starts, 39 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 PD

Career: 75 tackles, 1 INT, 8 PD

The Jaguars gave up on C.J. Henderson so fast, you had to think he might not last long in the league. Instead, he’s balled out in Charlotte this preseason and might be a starter in a good, young secondary. Here’s a pick six from practice — granted, it was of Sam Darnold, but it still counts!

#19 - Marcell Harris

Position: LB

Team: New York Jets

Years: 4

2021: 15 G, 7 starts, 44 tackles, 1.0 sack, 1 INT, 1 PD, 2 TFL, 1 QB hit

Career: 155 tackles, 1.0 sack, 1 INT

Harris was initially cut by the Jets in what looks like a procedural move. Once they moved their injured players to injured reserve, they brought Harris right back. He’s coming off his best professional season in 2021 after switching from safety to linebacker. Now he’s reunited with former defensive coordinator Robert Saleh in New York with hopes of a big role in the Big Apple.

#18 - Alex Anzalone

Position: LB

Team: Detroit Lions

Years: 4

2021: 78 tackles, 1 INT, 7 PD, 1 TFL, 2 QB hits

Career: 201 tackles, 5.0 sacks, 2 INT

Anzalone was credited with 15 missed tackles last season, four more than he had in his first three seasons combined. It was a point of emphasis this offseason and into training camp, and the Lions are optimistic the issue is cleaned up. Anzalone vastly improved in pass coverage last season so he’s shown the ability to make the necessary adjustments and improve his weaknesses.

Anzalone hasn’t had a lot of airtime on Hard Knocks, but when Thor’s been on screen, it’s been nothing but laughs.

#17 - T.J. Slaton

Position: DT

Team: Green Bay Packers

Years: 1

2021: 23 tackles, 1.0 sack, 2 QB hits

Slaton carved out a solid role on a very good Packers defense last season and looks slated for even more this year. He was disruptive in preseason action and should see more snaps spelling Green Bay’s star Kenny Clark.

#16 - Jawaan Taylor

Position: OL

Team: Jacksonville Jaguars

Years: 3

2021: 17 G, 17 S

Career: 49 G, 49 starts

Taylor hasn’t just started every game since coming into the league in 2019; he has played every offensive snap - 3,214 and counting. It’s a remarkable streak - by my count, it’s the fourth longest current streak in the league. But Taylor’s up and down play especially last season put him in a battle for the starting right tackle position this camp. The Jags haven’t named a starter yet but signs are pointing to Taylor and it might be because as many football coaches will tell you, availability is the best ability.

#15 - Demarcus Robinson

Position: WR

Team: Baltimore Ravens

Years: 6

2021: 25 rec, 264 yds, 3 TD

Career: 145 rec, 1,679 yds, 14 TD

Robinson was snatched up by Baltimore very quickly after being cut by the Raiders. His experience, professionalism, and consistency - only three drops in the last three seasons - and his ability as a big receiver who can block and do the dirty work outside are why John Harbaugh and company wanted him. But Robinson had some big catches for Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, including in the postseason. He flashed that big play ability his first time in a Ravens uniform.

#14 - Tommy Townsend

Position: P

Team: Kansas City Chiefs

Years: 2

2021: 37 punts, 47.2 avg, 1/1 passing, 16 yds

Career: 89 punts, 45.9 avg, 2/2 passing, 29 yds

Townsend has one of the best jobs in all of sports. In both of his seasons so far, he has held for extra points more often than he has punted. Once a year, he gets to channel his inner Patrick Mahomes and let a pass fly on a fake punt too. Living the life.

#13 - Keanu Neal

Position: S

Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Years: 6

2021: 72 tackles, 1.0 sack, 4 TFL, 2 QB hits

Career: 410 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 2 INT, 8 FF

Neal is back at safety after one season playing linebacker in Dallas. The Buccaneers were looking for experience and versatility and have been happy with Neal’s play so far. He’ll probably still fill a hybrid role closer to the line of scrimmage as a box safety who can defend the run. Neal needs to improve his tackling - 13 missed tackles last season - and get back to forcing turnovers with big hits.

#12 - Dante Fowler, Jr.

Position: OLB/DE

Team: Dallas Cowboys

Years: 6

2021: 36 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 6 TFL, 8 QB hits, 3 FF, 1 PD, 17 pressures

Career: 200 tackles, 35.0 sacks, 10 FF

Fowler is now with his fourth team in five seasons. Injuries and a lack of consistent production have significantly hurt his chances at success. But, man: When he’s right, he’s a force.

Despite a rough start that saw him benched in the first preseason game after a late hit, Fowler showed out with some big plays.

The Cowboys are hoping he can eclipse double-digit sacks for the second time in his career. With Randy Gregory now in Denver and DeMarcus Lawrence seemingly on the decline, Fowler will have his chances.

#11 - Brandon Powell

Position: WR/KR/PR

Team: Los Angeles Rams

Years: 3

2021: 8 KR, 26.0 avg, 6 PR, 22.2 avg, 1 TD

Career: 27 KR, 22.0 avg, 25 PR, 11.7 avg, 1 TD, 23 rec, 198 yds, 2 TD

Powell came out of nowhere last season to almost single-handedly turn the Rams’ return game from an albatross to electric. Powell may also see an opportunity in the slot, especially with Van Jefferson’s balky knee. Sean McVay and Matthew Stafford both love Powell. In fact after Powell banged his own knee, McVay said it wasn’t a big deal and Powell wasn’t going to play in the preseason anyway - something McVay does with his main starters. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Powell get some touches on offense this year.

#10 - Kadarius Toney

Position: WR

Team: New York Giants

Years: 1

2021: 39 rec, 420 yards, 3 rush, 6 yards, 1/3, 19 yards

Toney has to stay healthy. After missing almost half of his rookie campaign with various ailments, he missed most of the preseason with a leg injury. When he’s on the field, Toney is an electric playmaker. He could put up video game numbers in a variety of roles all over the field in Brian Daboll’s system. Toney was a quarterback when he arrived in Gainesville, so might we see more trick play passes from him this year?

In all seriousness, Toney’s quicks and cuts will terrorize defenses. He finally made it back on the field to finish camp — and he was, well, Kadarius Toney. Check out the little wiggle he put on Jets rookie Sauce Gardner.

That’s steal-your-nickname good if it happens on a Sunday.

#9 - Marcus Maye

Position: S

Team: New Orleans Saints

Years: 5

2021: 6 G, 46 tackles, 1.0 sack, 2 PD, 4 TFL, 1 QB hit

Career: 312 tackles, 6 INT, 3.5 sacks

Maye is looking to get back to form after an injury-plagued campaign in New York last season. Assuming he wins the starting free safety job, he’ll be teamed up with Tyrann Mathieu to form one of the best safety duos in the league. It’s a shame we won’t see him lined up next to Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. More on that in a minute.

Unfortunately Maye has been in the news for the wrong reasons, once back in the offseason and again just last week. Depending on how those charges turn out, Maye is putting his playing career in peril.

#8 - Jonathan Greenard

Position: DE

Team: Houston Texans

Years: 2

2021: 12 G, 33 tackles, 8.0 sacks, 9 TFL, 12 QB hits, 4 PD, 2 FF, 19 pressures

Career: 52 tackles, 9.0 sacks, 2 FF

Greenard was a revelation at times for the Texans last season. He had a sack in five straight games at one point and finished with eight total, second best by a Gator in 2021. If he stays healthy, Greenard will put up double-digit sack totals and force more than a handful of turnovers. The next step for him is perfecting the Carlos Dunlap batted pass pick. He’s getting close.

#7 - Trent Brown

Position: OT

Team: New England Patriots

Years: 7

2021: 9 G, 9 starts

Career: 72 G, 69 starts

Brown’s return from injury last season stabilized the Patriots’ offensive line and was a big factor in quarterback Mac Jones’ growth and development. Brown allowed only one sack in 2021.

This season, he’s moving back to the left side of the line and there are some rumblings he’s not happy about it - since he isn’t getting paid left tackle money. When healthy and motivated, there is no question he’s a Pro Bowl talent and one of the best tackles in the league. Earlier this preseason he was out to prove something to everyone so I’m guessing we’re gonna see him motivated this season.

#6 - Carlos Dunlap

Position: DE/OLB

Team: Kansas City Chiefs

Years: 12

2021: 35 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 8 TFL, 14 QB hits, 7 PD, 1 FF, 21 pressures

Career: 539 tackles, 96.0 sacks, 21 FF, 2 INT

This is probably more of a career achievement ranking, but Dunlap did play some of his best football down the stretch in Seattle last season - seven sacks in the final four games. He’s in Kansas City now and the Chiefs are hoping for the same production. Dunlap will be used situationally, playing about 30% of the defensive snaps. Even still, he should hit 100 career sacks this season, cementing his place as one of the best pass rushers ever from Florida.

#5 - Van Jefferson

Position: WR

Team: Los Angeles Rams

Years: 2

2021: 50 rec, 802 yards, 6 TD, 2 rush, 20 yards

Career: 69 rec, 1,022 yds, 7 TD

Not many people knew that Jefferson’s knee bothered him at the end of last season and throughout the postseason. The monster season he put up was all the more impressive in hindsight.

He had a procedure early in the offseason, then unfortunately had to have another surgery early in August. There had been some concern he won’t be going for tonight’s season opener at one point last month.

Here’s hoping he gets healthy and keeps going … brick by brick.

#4 - Evan McPherson

Position: K

Team: Cincinnati Bengals

Years: 1

2021: 28/33 FG, 46/48 XP

A kicker in the top five? McPherson is coming off the greatest rookie season by a kicker in NFL history, capped by a perfect postseason — 14 for 14 on field goals, and six for six on PATs.

And what did he do in his first preseason game? He banged out a 58-yarder and a 56-yarder. The Money Mac legend continues to grow — and maybe he’ll get a walk-up (walk-on?) song out of this year.

#3 - C.J. Gardner-Johnson

Position: DB

Team: Philadelphia Eagles

Years: 3

2021: 12 G, 46 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 3 INT, 7 PD, 4 TFL, 4 QB hits

Career: 161 tackles, 5 INT, 3.0 sacks

Gardner-Johnson has become one of the NFL’s best slot defenders and rightfully, he wants to be paid like it. The Saints didn’t feel the same way, so in a shocker, they dealt the brash Ceedy Deuce to Philadelphia.

Always known as a trash talker and instigator, CJGJ matched that big personality by making plays all over the field for New Orleans in 2021. The antics sometimes distract from his play, so he doesn’t get talked about in the same breath as some of the league’s top DBs, but there are few defensive playmakers who impact the game at all three levels like him in thee lague at present.

I honestly can’t think of a more perfect city for Gardner-Johnson to end up in, either. You think Philly fans are going to love him, hate him, and go back and forth about a million times on — and maybe with — him?

#2 - D.J. Humphries

Position: LT

Team: Arizona Cardinals

Years: 6

2021: Started 16 games

Career: 75 G, 75 starts

Humphries was one of only two former Gators to make the Pro Bowl in 2021 — the other is a unicorn you may have heard of. This offseason, Hump was rewarded with a hefty contract guaranteeing him $34 million on top of the over $48 million he’s already made. It’s a heckuva career so far and he’s still only 28.

#1 - Kyle Pitts

Position: TE

Team: Atlanta Falcons

Years: 1

2021: 68 rec, 1,026 yds, 1 TD

Who else could be No. 1 in this year’s rankings?

Pitts is the only rookie tight end in NFL history with at least 1,000 yards receiving and 65 catches. And if you watched the Falcons — as painful as it was — you saw how they often seemed to lose track of the best ways to utilize their unicorn. So, you have to think after a year in their system, Atlanta will be ready to fully unleash the devastation that is Pitts on a football field. I mean, he’s got to have more than one touchdown grab, right?

My recaps wouldn’t be complete without your regular Pitts play of the week:

Runs like Megatron and looks like Gronk? Maybe that’s why after only one season his fellow NFL players voted him No. 91 in the NFL’s Top 100 players — making him the only Gator on the list.

The dude is so, so, so special. And despite all the great tight ends in the game now, everyone can see he has the potential to be the best. Just ask Dak Prescott.

When the praise is that strong even from the players who want to beat you? You know you’ve made it to a level of immense respect.