Gators C Mike Pouncey will attend NFL Draft

Planning to follow in his brother’s footsteps of being a first-round selection, former Florida Gators center/guard Mike Pouncey has accepted an invitation from the league to attend the 2011 NFL Draft on April 28 at Radio City Music Hall in New York, NY.

Pouncey has let it known that his goal is to be picked ahead of his brother Maurkice Pouncey, who was selected No. 18 overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010. He is considered the top interior offensive lineman in the draft and has been projected by analysts to potentially go as high as No. 15 to the Miami Dolphins.

Since showcasing his talent for coaches and scouts at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, IN and Pro Day in Gainesville, FL, Pouncey has been conducting private workouts with teams potentially interested in drafting him and will continue to do so as draft day approaches.

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FOUR BITS: Draft cards, Madden 11, Gator Chomp

1 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow was drafted No. 25 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. Before that became official, league commissioner Roger Goodell had to announce it to the crowd at Radio City Music Hall. After that took place, some lucky kid snatched up the below card. Nice keepsake. Good luck getting your hands on it. Be armed with $1 million.

2 » Dressed in an sea foam green shirt and white Broncos hat, Tebow’s first rookie card looks more like something out of a family photo album than a card kids will have a desire to collect. But considering his No. 15 Denver jersey is already the top seller among rookies, it is no surprise that Prestige Football wants to capitalize on his brand ASAP.

3 » Though OGGOA has already shown you both pieces of cover art featuring Tebow on EA SportsNCAA Football 11 video game, now you can take a look at his likeness in the company’s Madden NFL 11 game, set to be released just a few weeks later.

4 » Former Florida dazzler and ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews continues her quest to reach the finals of the ABC reality television show Dancing With the Stars. Like she did earlier in the season, Andrews’ celebrated on the show Monday with a nice big Gator Chomp to show her UF pride and thank her fans. Enjoy.

Photo Credits: Panini America, IGN

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Browns nab Gators CB Joe Haden with No. 7 overall pick in first round of 2010 NFL Draft

Round 1 – No. 7
Joe Haden, CB
Cleveland Browns


Height: 5’11” – Weight: 193 lbs.
Age: 20 – Class: Junior

Months of speculation came to an end Thursday night when the Cleveland Browns selected former Florida Gators cornerback Joe Haden with the No. 7 overall pick in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. In attendance at Radio City Music Hall in New York, NY, Haden’s eyes swelled up when he received the phone call from Cleveland before he took the stage with gusto to take a picture with league commissioner Roger Goodell.

The Browns had been drooling over Haden since at least March 1, with general manager Tom Heckert making his intentions known rather publicly. “I think Haden is a heck of a football player,” Heckert said. “He’s probably one of the top corners, if not the top corner in the draft. He’s played at a big-time program, and they won a ton of games. He’s going to go early.”

Considering Haden has only been playing cornerback for three years (he set Maryland state high school records as a quarterback), his emergence as a shut-down corner in the talent-rich Southeastern Conference became the stuff of legends around the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine, which he completed with less than stellar reviews after posting slow 40-yard dash times.

Haden corrected his speed at Florida’s Pro Day, impressing those in attendance including almost the entire Cleveland front office. Team president Mike Holmgren and head coach Eric Mangini met with Haden shortly after his Pro Day for a private workout and invited him to visit the team facility on April 6.

If the team’s comments are any indication, Haden has a legitimate shot to start as a rookie in 2010 opposite CB Eric Wright with veteran Sheldon Brown moving to safety; should he not be ready right away, he could play in nickel and dime packages until he is able to step in to a starting role.

The fourth defensive player from the University of Florida to be drafted in the top 10, Haden is also the highest-selected Gators cornerback of all-time.

WHAT HADEN SAID
Press Conference Transcript
Press Conference Audio
“I am just trying to soak it all up. It’s crazy. Just a dream come true. I feel like this is like a blessing. I definitely had a good idea about that when I talked to [team president Mike] Holmgren. He definitely was telling me that they were really, really interested in taking me at No. 7. And once he told me that, it just made me have a sigh of relief. Then once I left my visit in Cleveland, I really didn’t have contact with anyone from Cleveland, so I didn’t know if they just stopped liking me or what happened so I just came in here didn’t know what was going on.”

WHAT THEY SAID
Press Conference Transcript
General manager Tom Hickert: “Joe was a guy we spent a lot of time with and evaluating. He’s a bigger corner that can really play the run, good cover ability. He’s a smart kid and he’s tough. He’s a guy we liked all along.”

Head coach Eric Mangini: “He did a great job the day he visited. You could feel the intensity, feel the passion, how much he cared about playing football and continue to improve. It was real. I don’t think there was anybody that met him that didn’t feel that way.”

Head coach Urban Meyer: “I’m happy for Joe and his family. He is one of the most unselfish players I’ve ever coached. He came to Florida as an offensive skill player who never played cornerback. He approached the coaching staff about changing positions because he wanted to get on the field. Despite not playing cornerback in high school he developed into one of the best ever to play his position at the University of Florida and is now a first-round draft pick in the NFL.”

THINGS TO READ
– Haden Browns choice at No. 7
– Heckert, Mangini intrigued by Haden
– Cleveland Browns select Florida cornerback Joe Haden in 2010 NFL Draft
– Cleveland Browns don’t get their safety, so they go with the safe pick
– Joe Haden joins Cleveland Browns with strong endorsement from teammate Tim Tebow
– Cleveland Browns find a defensive playmaker, and that decision is hard to argue
– Browns don’t buy buzz, go ahead with Haden pick

VIDEO
Haden on stage at 2010 NFL Draft with Commissioner Roger Goodell

Heckert and Mangini talk about picking Haden

Cleveland Plain-Dealer writers discuss the Browns’ selection of Haden

OGGOA will continue updating this story.

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OGGOA’s comprehensive 2010 NFL Draft preview

When I sat down and thought about the best way to preview the 2010 NFL Draft from a Florida Gators perspective for OGGOA‘s readers, I realized trite things like mock drafts, destination predictions and the like are really a bunch of hogwash. At the end of the day, 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 and commentators do.

So rather than try to predict the unknown variables and tell you what could happen, we will stick with what likely will happen. And you can check it out…after the break!
Continue Reading » OGGOA’s comprehensive 2010 NFL Draft preview

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Tim Tebow passes on New York to stay with family

It took former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow over a month to decide whether or not he would attend the 2010 NFL Draft in person at Radio City Music Hall in New York, NY. In the end, the answer was a simple “thanks but no thanks,” as the signal caller chose to return home to Jacksonville, FL, for a gathering with family, friends, his agent Jimmy Sexton and head coach Urban Meyer.

The motivating factor in Tebow’s decision was not potential embarrassment of being drafted late but rather his desire to remain with those closest to him during one of the most important processes of his life.

“That’s such a moment that will be exciting and special, so I don’t want to just celebrate that with people that I don’t really know and haven’t really been around just to be there in New York,” Tebow told OGGOA on March 27. “I want to be around my close friends and my family. So if that’s something we can work out or not, I’ll probably be with my family. I think it’s also just figuring out what’s with my schedule and everything. But then also just being around my family and figuring out what would be fun and what would be the easiest, most relaxed, comfortable spot.”

Tebow was already in New York for a promotional appearance with EA Sports (he is featured on the cover of the NCAA Football 11 video game) but chose not to stay.

Florida cornerback Joe Haden will be the sole player representing the school in New York and one of 24 former student-athletes who will be in attendance.

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Haden will, Tebow may attend 2010 NFL Draft

Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow and cornerback Joe Haden have been invited to attend the 2010 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York, NY, on April 22, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.

While Haden has accepted the league’s invitation, which was extended to 18 players – double the normal nine – due to the draft being lengthened from two to three days, Tebow has yet to make a decision one way or another. Mortensen reports that Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford, Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen and Texas QB Colt McCoy were also invited.

Though these offers are usually only extended to first-round draft picks, Mortsen says “Tebow’s workout on Wednesday boded well for the Gators quarterback, especially with those teams that were considering him as a high draft prospect.”

Haden, on the other hand, is projected to be selected in the early part of the first round – as high as No. 7 overall by the Cleveland Browns.

Because the first and second/third round of the draft will air on ESPN on Thursday and Friday night, respectively, Tebow’s presence would certainly boost the already strong ratings on the program’s second night should he not be selected in the first.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Haden, Hernandez declare for 2010 NFL Draft

Juniors cornerback Joe Haden and tight end Aaron Hernandez have both announced this week their intention forgo their final season of collegiate eligibility and declare for the 2010 NFL Draft. Haden, who started all 40 of his career games and was the first true freshman to start at CB in school history, made his declaration on Sunday while Hernandez, who was the first TE in Southeastern Conference history to win the John Mackey Award, let his decision be known Wednesday.

Finishing his career with eight interceptions and 218 tackles, Haden was a consensus first-team All-American, first-team All-SEC coaches selection and first-team All-SEC Associated Press selection as well as a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award in 2009. “This was a tough decision, and I spent a lot of time with my family talking about it,” Haden said. “I’m so proud that I had the chance to be a Gator. It’s been one of the best experiences of my life. Coach [Urban] Meyer and Coach [Vance] Bedford have helped me in so many ways. I’ll always be thankful to them for everything, and I know I’ll never forget the fans in Gator Nation.”

Hernandez, also a first-team All-American, first-team All-SEC coaches selection and first-team All-SEC AP pick, led his position group in the nation with 68 receptions and 850 receiving yards in 2009. He started 27 games with the Gators and finished with 111 catches for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns while setting school records for most catches by a tight end in a season (68) and career (111). “After much deliberation with my family and coaches, I am declaring myself eligible for the 2010 NFL Draft,” Hernandez said. “It is really special for me to take this first step toward my lifelong dream of playing in the NFL on the fourth anniversary of my father’s passing. I know he would be proud of not only me, but of my whole family, whose love and support are the only reasons I am where I am today.

“My three years at Florida provided me with the foundation I need to succeed as a player and a person. I am eternally grateful to Mr. Foley, Coach Meyer and the entire Gator coaching staff for bringing me to Florida and serving as my family away from home. They were constantly pushing me to become a better player and – more importantly – a better person. I am so grateful for their guidance and support. I also want to thank my teammates for their help on the field and their friendships off the field. I was fortunate to have been a part of three great Gator teams with many great players who I know I will see at the next level. Finally, I will never forget Gator Nation. You all are the reason I wanted to come to Florida and I look forward to returning to Gainesville to cheer on future Florida teams with the best fans in the country.”

Five remaining juniors including defensive end Carlos Dunlap, offensive linemen Maurkice and Mike Pouncey and safeties Major Wright and Ahmad Black are still deciding whether or not to leave school. This year’s NFL Draft will be held from April 22-24 at Radio City Music Hall in New York, NY. OGGOA will offer live coverage of the event both on this Web site and via twitter.

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