UF loses 5 players early to the NFL Draft
Published on Thursday, 1/3/19, at 1:52 p.m. Eastern.
Florida smashed Michigan 41-15 as a 4.5-point underdog in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl on Dec. 29 to finish Dan Mullen’s first season with a 10-3 record.
There are high hopes for the Gators in 2019. Athlon’s Way-Too-Early Top 25 for next season has UF at No. 7.
Five players have announced they are turning pro early, however, including RB Jordan Scarlett, DB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, OT Jawaan Taylor, LB Vosean Joseph and DE Jachai Polite. UF is still awaiting decisions from WR Van Jefferson, RB Lamical Perine and WR Van Jefferson.
Joseph had a team-high 93 tackles to go with five tackles for loss, four sacks, five passes broken up, one fumble recovery for 20 return yards and one QB hurry. Gardner-Johnson produced 71 tackles, four interceptions for 110 return, two pick-sixes, six TFL’s, three sacks, two PBU and two QB hurries.
Polite recorded 45 tackles, 11 sacks, 6.5 TFL’s, six forced fumbles, four PBU and three QB hurries. The 6’2″, 260-pound edge rusher is predicted to be the 15th overall pick in the latest mock draft at Draftek.com.
The website has Gardner-Johnson going in the fifth round with the 129th overall selection. Joseph is also pegged as a fifth-rounder at 147 overall at Drafttek.com.
Those projections are less bullish on these UF players than other. In fact, ESPN’s long-time draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. has Gardner-Johnson listed as the third-best safety in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Kiper has Polite as the second-best outside linebacker behind only Kentucky’s Josh Allen. He has Joseph as the sixth-best inside linebacker and Taylor as the third-best OT.
After sitting out the 2017 campaign due to a season-long suspension, Scarlett rushed for 776 yards and five TDs while averaging 5.9 yards per carry.
UF’s 2019 schedule featured an opener vs. Miami on Aug. 31 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. The Gators will host FSU in the regular-season finale, but the other two non-conference games are inexplicably against FCS foes, UT-Martin in Week 2 and Towson on Sept. 28.
Auburn returns to the schedule at The Swamp on Oct. 5, while Mississippi St. falls off.