FILE - Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) celebrates with teammates after an NCAA college football game against South Carolina on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, in Gainesville, Fla. Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson and Will Levis are projected to go anywhere from the top 5 to top 15 picks in this draft. (AP Photo/Matt Stamey, FIle)

Gators Set for NFL Draft

The day is finally here as the NFL Draft kicks off from Kansas City. Thirty-one athletes will hear Roger Goodell call their name and change their lives forever as they enter into the NFL world. Eleven former Gators have decided to pursue the NFL Draft. However, expect them to be drafted all over the board, if at all.

Here’s a look at the Gators in the draft and around where they may be taken off the board.

Early Rounders

Anthony Richardson has been one of the most talked about prospects ahead of the draft. And for good reason. His explosiveness in the Draft Combine turned heads around the country. However, despite brief conversations about him going No. 1 overall, it appears he will be slightly lower. The quarterback’s stock has fallen more towards the late single-digits and maybe even early teens. Regardless, whichever team is lucky enough to land Richardson will boost their quarterback room significantly.

While Richardson has taken the spotlight of Gator nation ahead of the draft, do not forget O’Cyrus Torrence. The offensive guard is certainly first round potential and could find himself as a starter on Sundays sometime soon. However, some mock drafts do see Torrence fall to the early second round. The Consensus All-American played in just 11 games for the Orange & Blue, but his impact was immeasurable. He followed Billy Napier from Louisiana and started a combined 46 games across his collegiate career. He’ll be a great addition on the interior of any team’s offensive line.

Heading Towards the Middle of the Draft

Justin Shorter, who spent three years with the Gators after transferring from Penn State, will likely end up somewhere towards the middle of the draft. Despite not being a day one selection, Shorter will add depth to the wide receiver group of whichever team he lands on. He could also take a role on special teams sooner rather than later.

Another former Gator who could go off the board in several different spots is Gervon Dexter Sr. Most mock drafts see him going in the third round, but a few do have him going as early as the second. He has been in contact with several teams, notably those who are in need of help on the defensive front. Dexter had a successful career with the Gators, making 125 tackles and 4.5 sacks over the course of 38 games.

Hopeful Late Rounders

A few players have their fingers crossed to hear their names at some point this weekend. While likely some of them will, others may have to settle for being an undrafted free agent or practice squad players.

Ventrell Miller is right on the edge in most mock drafts. His leadership for Florida was invaluable, but his size is a little underwhelming for NFL executives looking for a force at the linebacker position. He spent six years with the Gators, registering 7.5 sacks in 49 games.

Offensive lineman Richard Gouraige is another who should slit into the seven rounds but could narrowly miss. He was an excellent, solid piece of the Gators offensive line and started 42 games during his time in Gainesville. His draft combine grade did not blow anybody away. However, the thought is that he could develop into a solid backup or even eventually work his way into a starting role.

Trey Dean III, whose time in the Orange & Blue was up-and-down, could make a valuable late-round addition to any roster. Despite what never panned out to be the “superstar” career many expected, Dean’s athleticism, size and playmaking skills should prove nicely on Sundays. However, some mock drafts do not have him getting his name called. Although it would likely be a disappointment to Dean, he should have no issues working his way as a free agent or onto a practice squad.

Unlikely to Hear Name Called at the Draft

Four Gators sit near the bottom of the draft pool. For each of them, it means it is unlikely their name gets called. Still, as we have seen in the past, the draft is unpredictable and they players could slip into the seven-round field.

Brenton Cox Jr. had his time in Florida come to an abrupt end after being dismissed (for the second time in his collegiate career). Cox’s skills are often unquestioned. However, the former five-star’s character issues will be a risk for whichever team gambles on him.

Rashad Torrence II was a force on the Gators defense a season ago. However, his workouts ahead of the draft were average, which saw his draft stock sit towards the last round. If he does not get the call, expect Torrence to find his feet as an undrafted free agent or practice player.

Lastly, Amari Burney and Jordan Pouncey round out the Gators eligible for the NFL Draft. Burney’s time at Florida is defined by the goal line interception of Utah quarterback Cam Rising in the season opener last year. However, beyond that moment, Burney was not a standout. Pouncey saw limited time on the field as a pass-catcher but did have a significant role in special teams. He could make a roster as a special teamer but will likely not be drafted this weekend.

About Matt Quartararo

Matt is a fourth-year journalism major specializing in sports media and is also completing a sports management certificate. Starting in the Fall 2023 semester, Matt has served as a sports coordinator with WRUF. He also participates in sports broadcasting, providing play-by-play for a variety of Gators sports.

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