After a long three days, the 2016 NFL Draft is over.
Seven Gators players had their names called, as CB Vernon Hargreaves, S Keanu Neal, DL Jonathan Bullard, ILB Antonio Morrison, WR Demarcus Robinson, RB Kelvin Taylor and DE Alex McCalister were all drafted by NFL teams. It’s the fifth time the Gators have had seven or more players taken in the NFL Draft since 2004.
Tight end Jake McGee, nickelback Brian Poole and offensive lineman Trip Thurman went undrafted and are expected to sign with NFL teams as free agents. McGee tweeted minutes after the completion of the draft that he signed with the Carolina Panthers.
Anyway, here’s what the ESPN draft experts had to say on the broadcast about each Gators draftee immediately after they were selected …
CB Vernon Hargreaves: Drafted by Tampa Bay Buccaneers with 11th overall pick in first round.
Jon Gruden: “I love this pick. He doesn’t have the ideal size you’re looking for. He doesn’t have the ideal speed. But when you turn on the film, this kid knows how to play football. He can play right corner or left corner. He play press coverage or off and he’s a good tackler. When he’s on, he’s on. He can come off the corner as a blitzer and wreak havoc and I see him go to work in the SEC.”
Mel Kiper: “You look at Vernon Hargreaves, at one point in time he looked like a top-seven pick. He dropped a little bit because of a lack of length and he got beat over the top some. But you look at him, his tackling is outstanding. I thought he had a good career, but his best years were early on and his performance kind of leveled off or he regressed a little bit. That was a concern. I like Vernon Hargreaves better than Eli Apple, who the Giants took at No. 10.”
Louis Riddick: “I have some concerns about Vernon Hargreaves. I understand why Tampa Bay took him, but I have concerns about his consistency. I have concerns about his speed. I have concerns about his competitiveness. … I just don’t know if it’s competitiveness or if it’s long speed, but those receivers only get faster and they only get more competitive in the NFL.”
S Keanu Neal: Drafted by Atlanta Falcons with 17th overall pick in first round.
Riddick: “The Falcons don’t have a tackling machine on the defensive side of the ball and he will bring that to them. In coverage — although he has some limitations — if you’re going to ask him to man up against a wide receiver, that’s not his forte. But he will be more than able to bang on tight ends as far as getting up on the line of scrimmage and pressing them aggressively. They need a player with his profile both character wise and what he can do on the football field.”
DL Jonathan Bullard: Drafted by Chicago Bears with 72nd overall pick in third round.
Kiper: “He’s tremendously versatile. He can play inside or out and he’s great in pursuit. I don’t know if he’ll be a big sack guy in the NFL, but he’s going to have a lot of value.”
Todd McShay: “He’s a versatile defensive lineman — played defensive end in a 4-3, played defensive end in a 3-4 and he’s played defensive tackle as that 3-technique. This past year, he played more inside in pass-heavy downs and he was really productive, the most productive he’s ever been in terms of sacks and getting in the backfield. He’s not the most athletic, he’s not the most talented guy in this draft, but he might have the best motor. This guy is constantly playing his tail off. Really good pick with Bullard here.”
ILB Antonio Morrison: Drafted by Indianapolis Colts with 125th overall pick in fourth round.
Kiper: “I saw him as a 5.10 (40-yard dash) guy who plays like a 4.80 guy. I think if he can stay healthy, I think he’s at worst a solid backup. I don’t know about a starter, that might be a little too much.”
McShay: “I gave him a third-round grade based on 2014 tape. I really like him on tape as a football player. The problem is at 6-foot-1, 233 pounds, he ran a 5.10 in his 40-yard dash. That’s like a 320-pound defensive lineman. So you’re talking about a guy who doesn’t measure very well, does not have the numbers that you’re looking for, but he’s instinctive and really good with his eyes. I think he’s quick, solid and a good tackler. Yes, he’s a little undersized, but he plays tough. He’s had some off-field issues, some durability issues — all of those things factored in. But Morrison is a good football player when he’s on the field.”
Riddick: “Antonio Morrison is really more of a one-down type of player to me. He just really seems as though he’s going to struggle in space if you ever put him on the field in passing situations. And how does that kind of guy translate on special teams? When you’re running down field covering kicks or punts and you don’t have a lot of lateral agility or straight-line speed, you’re going to struggle a little bit.”
WR Demarcus Robinson: Drafted by Kansas City Chiefs with 126th overall pick in fourth round.
Kiper: “Breakout year in 2014 and you thought he was heading for stardom at 6-foot-1 and 203 pounds. But he didn’t run well for the clock at the combine. You go back to the Gators’ big win early in the season against Ole Miss, he showed you he could get downfield and make a big play. Good run after the catch ability, decent hands and body control, but too inconsistent and there were games where he just wasn’t that impressive. I think when you look at lack of consistency, can he be reliable and dependable? Certainly the talent is there. If you saw him in the right game or you watched him in 2014, you thought he would eventually be an early round draft pick.”
McShay: “He’s a smooth athlete. I talked to some scouts who thought he may be one of the top 10 talents at wide receiver. Everybody knows about the issues and knew he was going to fall, so he’ll be an interesting player to watch as we track him in his development with Kansas City. I understand trying to bring in a project like that.”
RB Kelvin Taylor (Glades Day): Drafted by San Francisco 49ers with 211th overall pick in sixth round.
Kiper: “You look at Kelvin Taylor and he has great feet. He made multiple cuts on one run several times when I watched him on tape. Impressive. He didn’t time well at the combine — 4.60 (40-yard dash time). But he showed some burst. He became much more of a factor catching the ball out of the backfield this year. He had 17 catches and he only had seven his first two years. He shows you explosiveness, he plays faster than he times, and I love the fact that he can stop on a dime and make a cut. I’ll tell you what, Kelvin Taylor — at this point in the draft — is a running back steal.”
McShay: “He has the ability to develop into a really big time contributor. He also had zero fumbles on 510 career touches. Let me just say this, he’s got to mature and pick a better crowd to be with off the field if he’s going to take advantage of all his physical tools on (the field).”
DE Alex McCalister: Drafted by Philadelphia Eagles with 240th overall pick in seventh round.
Kiper: “At 6-foot-6 and 239 pounds, he’s got to fill out his frame. He’s got to get stronger and he’s got to put some weight on. In the Kentucky game, when the first move failed, he was done. In that game, outside pressure is all he brought. You want to see a spin move. You want to see a variance of his moves coming off the edge. He doesn’t have them right now. He’s got to get bigger, he’s got to get stronger. He’s got a ton of athletic ability with a 34.5-inch vertical, but he’s not yet nearly a finished product and not yet ready to go up against the quality offensive tackles he’ll see in the NFL.”
McShay: “There’s a lot of upside. He’s got to continue to develop and he has some off-the-field baggage and got dismissed from the program before the bowl game.”