What an incredible draft this is turning out to be for Florida.
Dante Fowler kicked things off by going #3 overall to the Jaguars, and then DJ Humphries followed by being selected by the Cardinals at #24. Two more Gators, Matt Jones and Chaz Green, snuck into the third round. And now four more Gators- center Max Garcia, linebacker Neiron Ball, offensive lineman Trenton Brown and wide receiver/return man Andre Debose- have been selected to bring Florida’s total to eight.
Garcia went first, at #133 overall in the fourth round to the Broncos. He’s a great guy to have around a locker room and will do what is asked of him to improve. His great attitude more than compensated for his lack of natural talent, and his versatility as a lineman should help him make the Broncos’ roster.
Ball went next, to Oakland in the fifth round at #161 overall. If there’s a story of perseverance in this year’s draft, Ball is it. Brain surgery that he said had him scared of dying caused him to miss an entire season, but he returned from injury to become a leader on the Florida defense. His toughness and competitive spirit should at least guarantee him a spot on the Raiders’ special teams.
Then there was Debose, a guy many Gator fans gleefully referred to as the next Percy Harvin. That never happened, though Debose did flash some signs that made the comparison seem somewhat legitimate. But those flashes were few and far between, and other than a pair of long touchdown receptions in back to back games in 2011- both of which Florida lost badly- almost all of them came on special teams. The decreasing value of the kick return in the NFL probably dropped Debose even farther (7th round, #221 overall), and the off the field issues that caused him to miss the Birmingham Bowl didn’t help, either. But he’s a tremendous natural talent that Will Muschamp and his staff never developed. Now let’s see what he can do with an actual coaching staff in Oakland.
Rounding out the Gators’ fourth day selections was Trenton Brown, a mammoth of a man who had very mixed results at Florida. He’s got some talent, but his size was what made the 49ers pull the trigger (7th round, 244 overall). He’s going to need to get quicker with his hands and feet if he wants to make the roster, though, as he’s relied on that sheer size to get to this point. I of course wish him the best as a Gator, but he seems destined for the 49ers’ practice squad this year.