Florida junior CBs Marcus Roberson, Loucheiz Purifoy lead list of undrafted Gators

Anywhere from six to eight Florida Gators were expected to be selected in the 2014 NFL Draft, but the event came Thursday and ended Saturday with only four being picked up by professional teams out of 256 slots.

Defensive tackle Dominique Easley (first round, No. 29, New England), cornerback Jaylen Watkins (fourth round, No. 101, Philadelphia), linebacker Ronald Powell (fifth round, No. 169, New Orleans) and guard Jon Halapio (sixth around, No. 179, New England) were all picked, but other Gators were not as lucky.

Junior CBs Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy, early entrants who were both projected as first-round picks by numerous draft analysts before the 2013 season, went undrafted during the three-day event.

Roberson’s injuries were likely the greatest deterrent to teams selecting him, though low testing numbers at the NFL Combine, a lackluster Pro Day and some off-field concerns also affected his draftability.

Purifoy did not progress as scouts hoped in terms of his coverage ability and overall play at cornerback during his junior campaign. Poor testing numbers and numerous off-field issues, including a run-in with the law for possession of marijuana and bath salts just two months before the draft, likely forced teams to bail on picking him up.

Continue Reading » Florida junior CBs Marcus Roberson, Loucheiz Purifoy lead list of undrafted Gators

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New England nabs Florida G Jon Halapio with No. 179 pick in sixth round of 2014 NFL Draft

Round 6 – No. 179
Jon Halapio, G
New England Patriots


Height: 6’3″ – Weight: 323 lbs.
Age: 22 – Class: Redshirt senior

The New England Patriots went back to their Gainesville, Florida, well on Saturday, adding a former Florida Gators player for the second time in three days (and fifth time in five years) by selecting guard Jon Halapio with the No. 179 overall pick in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

A solid high-intensity lineman who entered the 2013 season projected as a second-day selection, Halapio was unable to play up to his full potential due to a torn pectoral that severely hampered his movement and effectiveness. He is known as a tough and excellent run blocker who needs to improve in pass protection.

Halapio played 51 games and made 43 starts for during his career with the Gators, starting at right guard for the last seven games of 2010, all of 2011 and 2012, and the final 10 games of 2013 after missing the first two due to his pectoral injury.

He will begin his career as a reserve with the Patriots but could quickly develop into an NFL starter as his strength returns and technique improves.

Halapio is the first UF offensive lineman drafted since 2011 and 13th former Florida player selected by New England, joining first-round defensive tackle Dominique Easley in the team’s 2014 draft class.

The Patriots have selected multiple Gators in the draft three times, drafting two in 2006 (Chad Jackson, Jeremy Mincey) and three in 2010 (Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes, Aaron Hernandez).


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Patriots select Gators DT Dominique Easley with No. 29 overall pick of 2014 NFL Draft

Round 1 – No. 29
Dominique Easley, DT
New England Patriots


Height: 6’2″ – Weight: 288 lbs.
Age: 22 – Class: Senior

A first-round talent who would have been drafted much earlier if not for injury concerns, Florida Gators defensive tackle Dominique Easley heard his name announced late Thursday night when the New England Patriots selected him with the No. 29 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Easley, a quick and explosive three-technique lineman who possesses a lightning-fast first step and terrific inside pass rush skills, is the second Florida defensive tackle to come off the board in the first round in as many seasons after DT Sharrif Floyd was picked six spots earlier at No. 23 overall by Minnesota in 2013.

A starter at UF for three seasons, he is the first Gators player selected by the Patriots since the team took three players in 2010 and will be able to show his relentlessness and versatility from the get-go. Easley compiled 72 total tackles (18 for loss) and 5.5 sacks in 32 games with 26 starts.

“He’s an all-in guy. There’s not much to not like about him,” said head coach Bill Belichick after making the selection. “I’m always looking for people who can hit the quarterback. No question. It’s at a premium.”

Despite suffering a devastating knee injury – including a torn ACL (the second such injury in his career) – six games into the 2013 season, Easley has spent the last seven months undergoing intense rehabilitation. He called his knee 80-85 percent at Pro Day last month and expects to be 100 percent healthy at some point during training camp.

Easley is the 11th Florida player to be drafted in the first round in the last eight years and 46th in school history dating back to 1936. He is also the 12th overall to be chosen by New England in the history of the NFL Draft though none of the previous 11 were first-round selections. Easley will be the only former Gators player on the Patriots’ roster despite the team picking eight UF players dating back to 1999.

If New England had not chosen Easley at No. 29 overall, the consensus amount NFL reporters is that Seattle – with former Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn in the same position – would have snagged him at No. 32. The Seahawks subsequently traded out of the pick after the Patriots selected Easley.

“Dominique Easley is one of the best value picks in this draft,” said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock. “He was a top-30 pick until he tore his ACL this September. … A lot of people felt like he was going to end up dropping because of the ACL. … This is a typical Bill Belichick pick. He’s got talent. The rest of the league discounted the talent because of the injury. … This kid is gifted.”

SOCIAL MEDIA REACTIONS TO EASLEY SELECTION
Continue Reading » Patriots select Gators DT Dominique Easley with No. 29 overall pick of 2014 NFL Draft

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15 Gator Bites for Tuesday, April 15

From time to time, OnlyGators.com will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons was involved in a card accident before his team’s game on Monday – don’t worry, he’s OK – when a woman ran a red light and hit his sports utility vehicle. What happened next? “She said she ran a red light and it was her fault,” Parsons told the Houston Chronicle. “She had a little car so it kind of messed up the front bumper of my car. She was OK. Asked me to sign her insurance card.” Parsons led Houston with 21 points in 40 minutes on Monday. He entered the game recovering from a hip injury he suffered last week.

» According to Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com, the Philadelphia Eagles have a high level of interest in Gators outside linebacker Ronald Powell. Kempski notes that Philadelphia has a history of selecting high-upside players that were ranked among the top players in the country coming out of high school seeing as the Eagles used a seventh-round selection on running back Bryce Brown in 2012.

» The final USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll came out following the 2014 NCAA Tournament, and the individual ballots of all 32 coaches that voted were released as well. Five coaches – Tim Cluess (Iona), Matt Driscoll (North Florida), Tim Floyd (UTEP), Shaka Smart (VCU) and Don Verlin (Idaho) – voted Florida into the No. 2 spot over Kentucky, while four other coaches picked UF at No. 4 behind Wisconsin. One coach – Mike McConathy of Northwestern State – ranked the Gators fifth in the final poll.

Continue Reading » 15 Gator Bites for Tuesday, April 15

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Jaylen Watkins: Path to the NFL Draft: Pro Day

Through the 2014 NFL Draft, which will be held in New York, NY from May 8-10, Florida Gators defensive back Jaylen Watkins will be keeping you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft with exclusive blog entries here at OnlyGators.com.

Florida’s third-leading tackler with 52 takedowns last season, Watkins played safety for the Gators after being primarily used as a cornerback – the position he will play as a professional – during his first three years. Watkins started 28 of the 48 games in which he participated but saw the field for starter’s minutes in many of those other contests.

His eighth entry was submitted shortly after his participation in Pro Day in Gainesville, FL. Watkins also began private meetings and workouts.

Heading into Pro Day, I was hoping to be 100 percent recovered from my Achillles injury. I felt good that day, good enough to do the broad jump, vertical jump, shuttle drills and on-field work, which I did not anticipate doing all of those heading into the day. I ended up aggravating it doing those activities, and it definitely started bothering me, but I got some good notes back on how I performed.

The weather played a factor, too. It was nasty last year but dried up before the guys got out on the field. We didn’t know what to expect. The earlier part of the day, looking outside, it was pouring and we didn’t expect to go outside at all. I know it was rough for Marcus [Roberson] and Loucheiz [Purifoy] and the rest of the guys having to run on the indoor track and having things off-schedule. “Out of all the days, it had to rain this day.” You know? It was warm the day before, right after it cleared up as well. But just for it to happen like that was a stroke of bad luck for all of us.

Before Pro Day even began, the night before, I had my first meeting since the combine and linked up with the Indianapolis Colts at the Florida football facility. It was very similar to all of my other meetings. We went over film, got to know each other and they picked my brain on some things over about 20-30 minutes.

Continue Reading » Jaylen Watkins: Path to the NFL Draft: Pro Day

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FOUR BITS: Spikes, Murphy, Wright, Tebow

1 » Linebacker Brandon Spikes became the third former Florida Gators football player to find a new home this offseason when he agreed to a one-year, $3.25 million contract with the Buffalo Bills in late March. Spikes is guaranteed just $900,000 (his signing bonus) as part of the deal, which has a base salary of $1.25 million and an additional $1.1 million available via bonuses. he can also earn up to $250,000 through incentives. Though Spikes was a favorite of New England owner Robert Kraft, he did not enjoy his time with the Patriots. Especially bothersome to Spikes was the fact that he played injured the entire 2013 season and was suddenly placed on injury reserve before a playoff game despite not suffering a setback. Now Spikes will be able to go head-to-head with his former team as he is on another squad in the AFC East.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Spikes, Murphy, Wright, Tebow

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FOUR BITS: Caldwell, Mincey, Spikes, Roper

1 » Former Florida Gators wide receiver Andre Caldwell re-signed with the Denver Broncos on Tuesday, inking a two-year deal worth a maximum of $3.45 million to remain with the team. Caldwell was signed by Denver in 2012 when the Broncos signed quarterback Peyton manning and was not given the opportunity accomplish much his first season. Last year, Caldwell only caught five passes through the first 14 weeks before exploding on Dec. 2, 2013 with six receptions for 59 yards and his team’s only two touchdowns in a 27-20 loss to San Diego. He caught 12 passes over the final five games and was held without a reception in Super Bowl XLVIII. With Denver not expected to re-sign WR Eric Decker, Caldwell could have a greater opportunity to contribute in 2014.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Caldwell, Mincey, Spikes, Roper

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SIX BITS: Speights, Sloan, fouling, Riggs, Tyus

1 » Golden State Warriors forward/center Marreese Speights put together a career game Monday night as he added a highlight to his otherwise up-and-down NBA career. Speights came off the bench but played starter’s minutes for Golden State in its 123-80 drubbing of Philadelphia 76ers, scoring a career-high 32 points on 12-of-15 shooting with eight boards and three blocks against the team that selected him with the No. 16 overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.

He played so well, in fact, that the Warriors home crowd actually chanted “M-V-P” for Speights though he has been mostly a role player for Golden State this season.

2 » No. 1 Florida Gators gymnastics (5-0, 3-0 SEC) held on to its top ranking on Monday coming out of a 197.175-195.45 road victory on Friday over the Kentucky Wildcats (4-4, 1-3 SEC). Leading the way for the Gators in the meet was sophomore Bridget Sloan, who registered her second and Florida’s fourth perfect score of the season with a 10.0 on the balance beam. The defending national title holder in the discipline, Sloan’s 10.0 made her just the second gymnast in program history to register a perfect mark on the beam and the first Gators gymnast to score 10.0s on two different events in a career. For her terrific performance, Sloan honored by the Southeastern Conference for the fourth-straight week with the SEC Gymnast of the Week award.

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Speights, Sloan, fouling, Riggs, Tyus

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