Florida Gators 2012 NFL Draft viewer’s guide

The Florida Gators may not have a proverbial dog in the race when it comes to the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft on Thursday but a handful of former Florida players still hope to see their childhood dreams come true this weekend.

As fans of the 32 NFL teams look on nationwide, those supporting the Gators may not be as excited about the event this time around considering there will be yet another a significant drop-off from the nation-leading nine players that were selected in 2010 (including a school-record three in the first round and six in the first two rounds). In fact, Florida is not expected to have a first-round pick for the first time since the 2006 draft when Chad Jackson was an early second-round selection by New England.

Few things are certain when it comes to the NFL Draft – trades can occur at any moment and each team views its most pressing needs and what each player brings to the table differently than analysts do. Rather than try to predict the unknown variables and tell you what could happen, we will stick with what likely will happen Thursday-Sunday.

» Cornerback Janoris Jenkins will be the only player with (close) ties to Florida to be selected in the first two rounds – probably in the latter part of round one.

Unless a team falls in love with running back Chris Rainey’s potential, Jenkins is the only name Gators fans can hope to hear on Thursday or early Friday. He has early first-round potential but what many teams apparently consider undraftable off-the-field character concerns. Reports coming out this week state that some teams have removed Jenkins from their draft boards entirely while others recognize that his talent may be too good to pass up. Many analysts even believe he has a higher upside than LSU’s Morris Claiborne, who is expected to be the first cornerback selected (somewhere in the top 10) on Thursday. With such a rush of anti-Jenkins reports, it appears as if a number of teams are trying to create a major smokescreen in the hopes that he falls to them late in the first round. Marijuana arrests and multiple children out of wedlock may matter to some front office executives, but they are not considered to be on the same level with felony arrests, for example. It is likely that someone takes a chance on Jenkins Thursday and does not let him slip into the second round where he would be an absolute steal.

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FOUR BITS: football, Howard, Jenkins, Shaw

1 » The Florida Gators released this week a pair of question-and-answer stories with coordinators Brent Pease (offensive) and Dan Quinn (defensive) on their thoughts following the 2012 Orange & Blue Debut. Pease pointed to the improvement of the offensive line as what he was most impressed with after watching film. “We established an identity in being physical up front and being able to run the ball. I think our core kids there are very good. They are quick learners and they are very good athletes,” he said. “I think we built some depth that if we get some injuries during the season, we can rotate guys and put them in positions. We should be good there because there are good players there and there’s experience.” Quinn said that junior transfer defensive tackle Damien Jacobs, freshman linebacker Antonio Morrison and defensive backs sophomore Jabari Gorman and junior Jaylen Watkins stood out for him though it was the first two that took the biggest step. “[Jacobs] showed in the spring that he had power and that he could convert from run into pass rush,” he said. “Antonio Morrison continued to impress me with how it wasn’t too big for him – he got it. He’s got good instincts at the linebacker position.”

2 » Florida defensive tackle Jaye Howard may not be getting as much attention as some other current and former Gators heading into the 2012 NFL Draft, but he is still doing whatever he can to prove to teams that he is worth selecting relatively early in the process. NFL.com recently released a short video interview with Howard in which he talks about getting ready for the event later this month. “[Teams are] not going to invest any money in anyone who is not conducting themselves in the right manner,” he said. “You have to carry yourself in the right way all the time. I’m going look at the coaches right in the face and square and tell them that I’m going to provide energy to the team, be a team player and try to compete to earn a spot on the team.”

3 » Former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins’s stock continues to fall as the NFL Draft approaches. According to NFL.com’s Albert Breer, who cites sources with three different teams, Jenkins “admitted in pre-draft interviews that he continued his drug use at North Alabama.” He had previously claimed that being dismissed from the Gators was the dose of reality he needed to stop smoking. UNA claims that Jenkins was tested while with the program as part of a “Zero tolerance behavioral contract” he signed that included random drug testing. Breer reports that “a significant number of NFL executives cast a skeptical eye toward” such a statement despite many seeing him as potentially the best cornerback in the entire crop of players available. “It’s not just his personal situation with the kids and different moms. This is a multiple offender of the drug policy in college, and it’s not like there were no character concerns at North Alabama,” an AFC personnel executive told Breer. “He had multiple opportunities to get away from it. He didn’t at Florida, and he went to North Alabama and he wasn’t clean there. You just wish the situation at North Alabama was clean, that he had a rebirth, from a personal and football character standpoint. But it was more of the same.” You can read much more about Jenkins including opinions from other executives here.

4 » Former Gators DB Joshua Shaw will be eligible to play for the USC Trojans in 2012 after being granted a medical hardship waiver by the NCAA, according to ESPNLosAngeles.com. Shaw, a California native who transferred from Florida in order to be close to home (his father and grandfather are sick), will compete for the starting job at both strong safety and cornerback.

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FOUR BITS: Pro Day, Tim Tebow, tennis, WBK

1 » Though the date has been set for at least a few weeks now, the Florida Gators officially announced this week that the team will hold its Pro Day on March 13. Free and open to the public, Pro Day will feature a number of draft-eligible Gators working out for NFL scouts and coaches from around the league right on Florida Field in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida also announced that seven players who graduated in 2011 – quarterback John Brantley, defensive end William Green, defensive tackle Jaye Howard, defensive back Moses Jenkins, running back Chris Rainey and wide receiver Deonte Thompson – are scheduled to participate. Also in attendance to work out for scouts will be former Gators including DT Troy Epps, DT Lawrence Marsh, DB Dorian Munroe, DB Wondy Pierre-Louis and WR Justin Williams.

2 » EA Sports announced via their Facebook page that QB Tim Tebow is one of two Denver Broncos players representing his team in the online voting for cover athlete for the Madden NFL 13 video game. Voting begins March 7; after the field is cut down to 32 players, head-to-head votes will take place until the final cover athlete is picked. Tebow, who was on the cover of NCAA Football 11 two years ago, may actually want to avoid winning this contest due to the dreaded and much-publicized Madden curse.

3 » No. 15 Florida women’s tennis (6-1) swept the Florida State Seminoles (5-4) at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex for the team’s 99th consecutive home victory. The Gators, now 52-1 all-time against the Seminoles, beat their in-state rivals 7-0. The No. 13 pairing of junior Allie Will and sophomore Sofie Oyen won 8-2, leading the way for three doubles victories. No. 1 Will (6-1, 6-2), No. 39 Oyen (6-2, 6-1), No. 18 senior Joanna Mather (6-3, 6-1), No. 23 junior Lauren Embree (6-2, 6-2) and sophomore Olivia Janowicz (6-4, retired) all won their singles matches as well in the rout. Florida will compete in back-to-back road meets against Tennessee on Friday and Georgia on Sunday before returning to Gainesville, FL looking for their 100th straight win at home next Friday against Vanderbilt.

4 » Eight-seed Gators women’s basketball (18-11, 8-8 SEC) is set to begin action in the 2012 SEC Tournament by taking on the nine-seed Auburn Tigers (13-16, 5-11 SEC) on Thursday at 1 p.m. With the game airing live on FOX Sports Network, fans can watch as Florida tries to pull out a victory for the opportunity to square-off with one-seed Kentucky on Friday at 1 p.m.

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Former Gators at the 2012 NFL Combine: Jenkins

ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive continues our coverage of the three former Florida Gators players participating in the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.

Former Florida Gators cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who was dismissed from the team and spent the 2011 season with North Alabama, had already been weighed and measured, completed exams, met with the media, been interviewed by teams and undergone psychological tests before he completed his full workout on Tuesday afternoon. Below are the results of how Jenkins measured in and performed during his four days at the NFL Combine.

Cornerback Janoris Jenkins (Group 10, DB27)
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 193 lbs.
Arm Length: 32 in.
Hand Size: 8 1/4 in.

40-Yard Dash: 4.46 seconds (Video)
Broad Jump: 121.0 inches
Vertical Jump: 33.5 inches
Bench Press: DNP

Overview: A prototypical cornerback at the next level with immense ability and athleticism, Jenkins may very well have been a first-round pick in 2011 if a shoulder injury did not play a part in him returning to school. After being dismissed from Florida for multiple arrests for possession of marijuana, Jenkins found himself at North Alabama where he had a solid year against a lower level of competition. Character concerns and integrity issues will be the main problems Jenkins has to overcome but all the positives he brings to the table could wind up outweighing those deterrents in the long run. In addition to being a solid cover corner, Jenkins has also shown an aptitude for returning kickoffs and punts, which may given him additional value in some teams’ eyes. His speed and quickness, fluid hips, coverage skills and strength at the line of scrimmage allow him to cover in both man-to-man and zone defensive schemes.
Strengths: Coverage, athleticism, speed/quickness, fluidity, hips
Weaknesses: Character concerns, off-field issues, size

Quotes from and about Jenkins:

Jenkins on what he told teams about his arrests and family situation (supporting four children all under the age of three): “I was honest, straightforward, told [the teams] I did it. I admitted to everything. I came in here to show them I’m not a bad kid. I’ve made a few mistakes, and I learned from them. […] I was just being a college kid, partying, having fun, doing things that aren’t really acceptable. It showed me that in order to get where I wanted to go, I’ve got to eliminate some things and some people.”

Jenkins on being dismissed by head coach Will Muschamp: “He was new to the program and there was nothing else he could do. I respect him for calling me to his office and telling me to my face like a man before it got out. No love lost for that man.”

Jenkins on using marijuana: “I’m done with it forever, man. I can’t do it. It’s something I can’t let myself do again.”

AFC team executive to Yahoo! Sports on Jenkins: “I know we haven’t decided what to do with him. We might take him off our board. I know there will be three or four teams that will take him off right away, at least for the first round.”

NFC team executive to Yahoo! Sports on Jenkins: “You want to hear if he has a plan to deal with it. He might convince you that he has it under control. […] Most of these guys don’t know what to do with the first dollar they make. If this kid could follow a plan, he wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place. I know this movie. It usually doesn’t end well.”

Detroit general manager Martin Mayew on Jenkins: “We talked to Janoris at the Senior Bowl and plan to talk to some other guys here who’ve had some off-the-field situations. We evaluate those [players] on an individual basis. The key thing is to go into it with an open mind. We just go into it, have a conversation with them about their past and about their future.”

Florida running back Chris Rainey (Group 06, RB24) completed his on Sunday with some impressive times, and Gators defensive tackle Jaye Howard (Group 07, DL 22) finished his workout on Monday, raising some eyebrows with his speed.

The event, which was held for six days from Feb. 22-28, consisted of more than 300 players being put through a series of drills, tests and interviews while more than 600 NFL personnel in attendance (including coaching staffs, executives, player personnel and medical staffs) look on and evaluate each of them. It amounts to the final job interview these athletes will participate in before the 2012 NFL Draft commences on April 26.

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Gators at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine: Howard

ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive continues our coverage of the three former Florida Gators players participating in the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.

Florida Gators defensive tackle Jaye Howard had already been weighed and measured, completed exams, met with the media, been interviewed by teams and undergone psychological tests before he completed his full workout on Monday afternoon. Below are the results of how Rainey measured in and performed during his four days at the NFL Combine.

Defensive tackle Jaye Howard (Group 07, DL22)
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 301 lbs.
Arm Length: 33 in.
Hand Size: 9 7/8 in.

40-Yard Dash: 4.82 seconds (No. 12 time of any DL)
Broad Jump: 106.0 inches
Vertical Jump: 27.5 inches
Bench Press: 24 reps (of 225 lbs.)

Overview: With plenty of size, strength and off-the-ball quickness, Howard can impact the game at defensive tackle and proved during his senior season that he can perform well while on the field for the majority of downs. He did his best to erase concerns raised during his junior season in which he disappeared at times in games, showing that he is a durable and affecting player who can make a difference when he’s on the field. Howard became a trustworthy veteran for a team in need of leadership, but his perceived inconsistency will be something teams focus on throughout the evaluation process.
Strengths: Size, strength, durability, tackling
Weaknesses: Inconsistency, effort, blocking

Former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins (Group 10, DB27) will participate in NFL Combine workouts on Tuesday, while Gators running back Chris Rainey (Group 06, RB24) completed his on Sunday with some great times.

The event, which is held for six days from Feb. 22-28, consists of more than 300 players being put through a series of drills, tests and interviews while more than 600 NFL personnel in attendance (including coaching staffs, executives, player personnel and medical staffs) look on and evaluate each of them. It amounts to the final job interview these athletes will participate in before the 2012 NFL Draft commences on April 26.

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Gators at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine: Rainey

ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive continues our coverage of the three former Florida Gators players participating in the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.

Florida Gators running back Chris Rainey had already been weighed and measured, completed exams, met with the media, been interviewed by teams and undergone psychological tests before he completed his full workout on Sunday afternoon. Below are the results of how Rainey measured in and performed during his four days at the NFL Combine.

Running back Chris Rainey (Group 06, RB24)
Height: 5’8″
Weight: 180 lbs.
Arm Length: 30 3/4 in.
Hand Size: 9 1/2 in.

40-Yard Dash: 4.45 seconds (No. 2 time)
20-Yard Shuttle: 3.93 seconds (No. 1 time)
60-Yard Shuttle: 11.06 seconds (No. 1 time)
3-Cone Drill: 6.50 seconds (No. 1 time)
Broad Jump: 120.0 inches
Vertical Jump: 36.5 inches
Bench Press: 16 reps (of 225 lbs.)

UPDATE: Rainey’s times in the shuttles and three-cone drill are the fastest of any player who has participated in this year’s combine through Monday.

Overview: With speed and quickness rivaling or topping every other running back in the 2012 draft class, Rainey is agile and electric on the field, making him an intriguing prospect as a rusher, wide receiver or kickoff and punt returner. He is powerful for a player his size with track-like speed and top-notch elusiveness. However, he is not a polished blocker and is much more effective outside the tackles where he can make plays in space as opposed to between the tackles where he is forced to draw contact.
Strengths: Speed, quickness, agility, experience
Weaknesses: Size, blocking, next-level durability

Quote: “I’m going for the 4.1. I’m going for the big one.” – Rainey on trying to break the combine 40-yard dash record

Florida defensive tackle Jaye Howard (Group 07, DL22) and former Gators cornerback Janoris Jenkins (Group 10, DB27) will participate in NFL Combine workouts on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

The event, which is held for six days from Feb. 22-28, consists of more than 300 players being put through a series of drills, tests and interviews while more than 600 NFL personnel in attendance (including coaching staffs, executives, player personnel and medical staffs) look on and evaluate each of them. It amounts to the final job interview these athletes will participate in before the 2012 NFL Draft commences on April 26.

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Three Gators invited to 2012 NFL Combine

OGGOA has learned that three former Florida Gators players have been officially invited to participate in the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.

The event, which is held for six days from Feb. 22-28, consists of more than 300 players being put through a series of drills, tests and interviews while more than 600 NFL personnel in attendance (including coaching staffs, executives, player personnel and medical staffs) look on and evaluate each of them. It amounts to the final job interview these athletes will participate in before the 2012 NFL Draft commences on April 26.

The three former Gators student-athletes invited to the combine include:

Running back Jeff Demps – Group: 6; Camp: RB06
Defensive tackle Jaye Howard – Group: 7; Camp: DL22
Running back Chris Rainey – Group: 6; Camp: RB24

Former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins (Group: TBD; Camp: DB27) was also invited and is expected to participate in the event.

Demps, on the other hand, is unlikely to take part in the combine as he has decided to run track for the Gators and attempt to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics.

The two notable names left off the invite list are those of quarterback John Brantley and wide receiver Deonte Thompson. Other draft-eligible Florida players include center/guard Dan Wenger and defensive end William Green.

Read about each player’s day-to-day schedule in Indianapolis after the jump!
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Two Gators practicing for 2012 Senior Bowl

Two players representing the Florida Gators are currently in Mobile, AL practicing for 2012 Senior Bowl. Weigh-ins and the first day of practice took place on Monday, additional practices will take place Tuesday-Thursday, a walk-through will occur Friday and the game will be played at 3 p.m. on Saturday airing live on NFL Network.

Running back Chris Rainey, playing for the South team, checked in at 5’8 3/8″ and 178 lbs. with 9 1/2 in. hands, a 30 3/4 in. arm length and a 72 1/4 in. wingspan.

Rainey is seeing time as a rusher, wide receiver and kick returner and told the Idaho Statesman that the game will not be close. “I’m glad to be part of this. I just know it’s going to be a blowout this Saturday,” he said.

According to CBS Sports, he was also the only player singled out and praised by head coach Mike Shanahan on Tuesday. Shanahan that he was “just impressed with the way he’s handling himself the first couple of days. […] He’s picked things up very quickly. You’re never really sure how people adapt to a system. And I’m not his agent, but I do want a little piece of the action.”

Rainey has signed with Joel Segal of Lagardere Unlimited, the agency that also represents all of his former Lakeland teammates including Maurkice Pouncey (Pittsburgh), Mike Pouncey (Miami) and Ahmad Black (Tampa Bay) as well as a bevy of other Gators in the NFL.

South team defensive tackle Jaye Howard also caught the eyes of a number of scouts and general managers over the first three days after coming in at 6’3″ and 292 lbs. with 10 1/8 in. hands, 32 1/8 in. arms and a 78 3/8 in. wingspan.

Signed with Drew Rosenhaus of Rosenhaus Sports Representation, Howard is trying to make his way up draft boards. SI.com‘s Tony Pauline was impressed with his efforts Tuesday, saying he “made several nice plays” and noticably “fires off the snap and is able to penetrate the line of scrimmage.”

Former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who spent last season with North Alabama and has signed with Ben Dogra of Creative Artists Agency, came in at 5/9 6/8″ and 191 lbs. with 8 1/4 in. hands, 30 3/8 in. arms and a 74 1/4 in. wingspan.

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock’s No. 2 cornerback available in the 2012 NFL Draft, Jenkins is trying to prove that his character concerns are a thing of the past in order to make his way into the bottom of the first round.

“I just go in, that’s who I am, tell them what happened and be honest,” Jenkins said when speaking with reporters, according to the Dallas Morning News. “I did it. I made a mistake. I take full responsibility for it. […] I’m sure I’ll have to deal with it, but I’m looking forward to it. I don’t have nothing to hide. I just go in and they ask me the questions and I give it to them and I’m honest and I look them in the eye and talk to them and let them know that I am honest and I learned from my mistakes.”

His performance so far in practice for the South team may go a long way towards him accomplishing that goal. “He’s fast, easily stays downfield with opponents and […] looks as though his ball skills have improved. Scouts have to be thinking first round for Jenkins after his performance,” Pauline explained.

Jenkins has already interviewed with a mystery team, Minnesota, Oakland, Dallas and Miami, the latter of which also met with Rainey at the Senior Bowl.

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