Though we were not able to snag our normal expert ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft, OnlyGators.com is here to take a closer look at the Florida Gators who could be selected from Thursday-Saturday in Nashville, Tennessee. And this year, there’s a ton of them.
Below are evaluations for the eight Gators available in the draft. All could potentially be selected, but Florida is likely looking at five or six being chosen and two or three moving on to be undrafted free agents.
Offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor (junior)
Projection: Round 1 (top 15 pick)
Analysis: The talent is there with Taylor. Though his weight will always be an issue worth monitoring — he was over 400 pounds in high school before slimming down throughout his collegiate career — he is a true road grader outside and is excellent in pass protection. He will need to improve in the running game, but teams believe they can teach that in a single training camp. Taylor will be a starter from Day 1 and should go in the front half of the first round on Thursday.
Safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (junior)
Projection: Round 2
Analysis: Gardner-Johnson can do it all, which will have teams interested in him at a variety of positions. Most will project him as a high safety, due in large part to his slower-than-optimal reaction time. Gardner-Johnson makes up for that with his athleticism and overall talent. He will get the opportunity to start right away or be a frequent contributor to a secondary — all depending on the rest of the team’s talent.
EDGE Jachai Polite (junior)
Projection: Round 3
Analysis: Depending who you ask, Polite may have had the worst NFL Combine performance of all-time due to his interview sessions. Some teams apparently took him off their boards entirely. Still, talent wins out in the end, and after a stellar college career, it has been surprising to see Polite projected as a third-round selection. Polite had a nation-best six forced fumbles last season with 17.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks … all despite not playing as many snaps as starters on the team. This is pass rushing talent, and he should probably be a second-round pick.
Linebacker Vosean Joseph (junior)
Projection: Round 3
Analysis: Athletic and talented, Joseph led the Gators last season with 98 tackles. He can pass rush, play coverage in the passing game and stop the run. The reason he will not be drafted higher is because he does not yet excel in any particular area, and this is a draft heavy weight linebackers and EDGE talent. Still, being a Day 2 selection is nothing to sneeze at.
Running back Jordan Scarlett (r-junior)
Projection: Round 6
Analysis: Most actually have Scarlett listed as an undrafted free agent, but all season I thought he would go in the fourth round. So I’m splitting the difference here, assuming a team sees his highlights from the 2018 season and realizes that Scarlett has many of the key traits — size, strength and quickness. If he can become a bit more decisive, you’re talking about an NFL starter (though perhaps one who needs an injury to get that opportunity).
Offensive lineman Martez Ivey
Projection: Round 6
Analysis: A long-time starter at Florida, Ivey just simply never developed the way coaches or fans expected. The former five-star recruit was supposed to be a three-year starter at left tackle who jumped early to the NFL as a projected first-round pick. Instead, his lack of lateral mobility and inconsistency cost him. Still, he’s been one of the top linemen in the SEC over his career, and that alone will ensure he is selected on Day 3, perhaps earlier than projected here.
Defensive lineman Cece Jefferson
Projection: Round 6 to undrafted free agent
Analysis: Similar to Ivey, Jefferson is a former five-star recruit who was expected to be a dominant three-year player for the Gators. That did not work out for him either. Instead, Jefferson will be hoping to catch on with a team in Day 3 or immediately after the draft concludes. It may be better for him to sign somewhere as a UDFA as he can pick his opportunity to potentially get on the field quickly.