Former Gators in the NFL: 2014 Preseason Week 2

The 2014 NFL preseason continued with 46 former Florida Gators spread out over 23 of the 32 teams in the league.

Fifteen teams have multiple Florida players on their rosters including Miami and Tampa Bay (four each); Baltimore, Indianapolis and Philadelphia (three each); and Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Kansas City, Minnesota, N.Y. Jets, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Washington (two each).

Below are full game statistics for all 35 players that saw action along with select updates on some Gators during the second week of the preseason.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
WR Deonte Thompson: Target; three kickoff returns for 188 yards, touchdown (108-yard return)

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL performed…after the break!
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Former Gators in the NFL: 2014 Preseason Week 1

The 2014 NFL preseason kicked off with 45 former Florida Gators spread out over 23 of the 32 teams in the league.

Fourteen teams have multiple Florida players on their rosters including Miami and Tampa Bay (four each); Baltimore, Indianapolis and Philadelphia (three each); and Buffalo, Cincinnati, Denver, Kansas City, Minnesota, N.Y. Jets, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Washington (two each).

Below are full game statistics for all 37 players that saw action along with select updates on a number of Gators during the first week of the preseason.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
DB JAYLEN WATKINS*, Philadelphia Eagles: Two solo tackles, interception (one yard), pass defense

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL performed…after the break!
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LB Ronald Powell signs rookie deal with Saints

Linebacker Ronald Powell became the first of the Florida Gators‘ four draftees to sign his rookie contract, inking a four-year, $2.39 million deal with the New Orleans Saints on Friday.

The No. 169 overall pick in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Powell appeared in 36 games with 21 starts for the Gators. He registered 84 tackles (55 solo, 19 for loss), 11 sacks, two pass defenses and a forced fumble at Florida, leading the team with four quarterback takedowns in 2013 after missing the entire 2012 season due to a torn ACL.

Powell will earn $462,215 as a rookie in 2014, including a $420,000 base salary and one-quarter of his guaranteed $168,860 signing bonus, which will be paid out over the duration of his contract. His annual average salary is $597,215, which will max out at $732,215 during the final year of his deal in 2017.

“Obviously with all of Powell’s ability, we have a tremendous upside there with him. We’re working with him a great bit. We’re looking forward to really good things from him,” said New Orleans defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

“Right now we’re seeing him as a Sam linebacker. We’re not putting in any special defenses for rookie camps or OTAs. We’re just teaching guys the regular base positions. … He’ll be working at SAM linebacker and he’s doing a good job.”

Continue Reading » LB Ronald Powell signs rookie deal with Saints

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FOUR BITS: Watkins, Halapio, Powell, Horford

1 » Teams understandably praise the players they draft, but Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly went above and beyond simply sharing the standard compliments when discussing Florida Gators cornerback Jaylen Watkins, his fourth-round pick, after making the selection. “Extremely high football intelligence,” he said of Watkins. “He has the speed to play corner, but sometimes when you’re drafting guys, you’re trying to project that maybe he can be this. Obviously, there is evidence of him playing safety and doing it at a really high level. He could be the quarterback of the defense because of his football intelligence, and we just thought that versatility and that football intelligence and character part of it, we thought it was a really good value, especially [on day three]. He’s one of those guys that we were really excited about [Friday] night, where if we didn’t get a great offer then we were going to stay right there and take Jaylen [with the first pick of the fourth round].” Watkins will start out at cornerback for the Eagles, according to general manager Howie Roseman (a Florida alumnus), but could play safety down the road as he develops and potentially adds more weight to his frame.

2 » The New England Patriots jumped at the opportunity to draft Gators guard Jon Halapio in the sixth round on Saturday with head coach Bill Bellichick “a little surprised to see him where he was” still available that late in the draft. While Halapio should make the team and could eventually develop into a starter in New England, he will also help the team’s first-round pick, Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley, with his transition to the NFL. “It’s good to have people [here] I’ve been around four years in college,” Easley said in his team press conference. “It makes it real comfortable.”

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Watkins, Halapio, Powell, Horford

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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 Orleans picks Florida LB Ronald Powell with No. 169 pick in fifth round of 2014 NFL Draft

Round 5 – No. 169
Ronald Powell, LB
New Orleans Saints


Height: 6’3″ – Weight: 237 lbs.
Age: 22 – Class: Redshirt junior

Two surgeries to his anterior cruciate ligament kept Florida Gators Buck linebacker Ronald Powell from reaching his full potential in college, but the New Orleans Saints obviously believe he has more than enough upside as a professional and expressed that by selecting him on Saturday with the No. 169 overall pick in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

The No. 1 overall prospect in the 2010 recruiting class, Powell was used as a pass rusher at Florida and projects as a stand-up outside linebacker in New Orleans.

Powell registered 11 sacks and 19 tackles for loss in three years of active play with the Gators and led UF with four sacks and eight quarterback hurries in 2013. He started 12 games as a sophomore in 2011 and was primed for a breakout season as a junior in 2012 but missed the entire campaign due to his ACL injury.

“When you watch his film, he’s a third-round prospect,” NFL Draft expert Tony Pauline told OnlyGators.com when evaluating Powell. ”He plays well in space, shows the ability to move around early and chase the action in pursuit. He was able to drop off the run and sprint. He’s shown the foundation and didn’t seem lost, didn’t seem out in space somewhere. …

“If he’s healthy, he’s going to surprise at the next level. He’s one of those guys where if he’s able to stay healthy and continue to build upon what we saw last season, could be one of those guys that people are going to say, ‘How could this guy fall so deep into the draft?’”

Powell is the first Florida player drafted by New Orleans since 1998. The Saints have now selected six Gators dating back to 1974.


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Evaluating Florida Gators ahead of 2014 NFL Draft

Despite being incredibly busy during the week of the 2014 NFL Draft, longtime analyst Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net sat down with OnlyGators.com on Tuesday afternoon for a wide-ranging look at the Florida Gators who could be selected Thursday-Saturday at Radio City Music Hall in New York, New York.

Pauline evaluated all 11 Florida players available in the draft and even provided projections for each prospect including those who may neither be selected May 8-10 nor signed after the festivities are over.

Defensive tackle Dominique Easley
Projection: Round 2
Analysis: “Easley, if he didn’t have the knee injury, he probably slides into round one. He’s a quick, explosive three-technique lineman who brings some inside pass rush. That’s becoming more and more valuable these days. The way it is, even with the knee injury, I think he’s going to slide into that second day of the draft and has a definite shot of going in the second round.”

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TWO BITS: Horford transfer, Easley Pro Day

1 » According to ESPN.com‘s Jeff Goodman, redshirt junior forward Jon Horford, a Michigan Wolverines transfer and the brother of former Florida Gators F Al Horford, is heavily considering choosing to play the final year of his collegiate career in Gainesville, FL. Jon Horford (6-foot-10, 250 pounds) will be a redshirt senior in 2014-15 and cleared to play without having to sit out a season. He registered 3.8 points and 4.2 rebounds in 13.8 minutes per game for Michigan last season and decided to transfer in order to get more playing time. That is one reason why a move to Florida was not believed to be on the table previously. Though the Gators are in need of frontcourt players, they do have freshman Chris Walker and redshirt junior Damontre Harris at center next season. Florida will also play redshirt juniors Alex Murphy (currently not scheduled to be eligible until the spring), redshirt junior Dorian Finney-Smith and incoming freshman Devin Robinson, though the latter two players will likely play small forward. Horford’s addition would fill UF’s remaining 2014-15 scholarship but not affect the allotment for 2015-16.

2 » Gators defensive tackle Dominique Easley has spent the last seven months rehabilitating his torn ACL but is finally getting the chance to show NFL teams what he can do on Thursday as he is participating in a private Pro Day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville. Joining Easley for the workout are outside linebackers Ronald Powell and Darrin Kitchens, who also participated in Florida’s first Pro Day one month earlier on March 17. Easley recently completed a visit with the Dallas Cowboys, his first private trip, and is expected to go on many more after his Pro Day workout is complete. Projections for Easley range from the second to fifth round, but he is likely to be taken on the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft as long as he can prove he’s healthy.

Continue Reading » TWO BITS: Horford transfer, Easley Pro Day

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