2020 NFL Draft projections: Where will the Florida Gators land this year?

By Adam Silverstein
April 22, 2020
2020 NFL Draft projections: Where will the Florida Gators land this year?

Image Credit: ESPN Images

As the 2020 NFL Draft approaches, OnlyGators.com is here to take a closer look at the Florida Gators who could be selected from Thursday-Saturday. And this year, with no formal Pro Days held and evaluation windows heavily lessened due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is expected that the draft will feature plenty of twists and turns.

Below are draft projections for each of the nine Gators available this weekend from CBS Sports NFL Draft expert Ryan Wilson along with evaluations of the prospects from your’s truly. While all eight could potentially be selected, Florida is likely looking at six being chosen and a couple more moving on as undrafted free agents. Let’s get to it.

Reminder: OnlyGators.com will offer complete, live coverage of the 2020 NFL Draft all week. So be sure to come back on Thursday and bookmark our draft tracker to follow the action all three days.

Cornerback C.J. Henderson
Wilson’s projection: Round 1 (picks 8-17)
Only Gators’ analysis: Already a consensus Day 1 pick, Henderson only improved his stock at the combine, impressing scouts with his tremendous athleticism that ranked among the top players at his position in every category. Henderson’s athleticism, agility and smooth coverage gives him CB1 potential in the NFL, and his ability to assist in run-stopping efforts only helps him further. Henderson does not often get beat on routes, but when he does, he usually recovers nicely. With proven downfield speed along with fluid hips and prototypical size, Henderson should be among the top 15 players selected and could go inside the top 10. He will need to improve his balance while mirroring wide receivers and open-field tackling.

Wide receiver Van Jefferson
Wilson’s projection: Rounds 2-3
Only Gators’ analysis: Jefferson was unable to compete in the combine drills as planned after doctors uncovered that he has a Jones fracture in his right foot. He had surgery the following week and will remain sidelined until May. This is unfortunate for Jefferson, who was hoping to raise his stock at the combine and Florida’s Pro Day, which ultimately did not take place. He is projected to be a Day 2 selection regardless of the fracture, but could have worked his way into a prime position if given the opportunity to meet with and work out for teams.

The evaluation on Jefferson is that his versatility, competitiveness and aggressiveness make him an attractive prospect who should be able to play right away as a WR2/WR3 coming out of the draft. Coaches will look to develop him more as a vertical threat, but Jefferson’s sure hands, strong frame, agility and release against the press should all benefit him at the next level.

Defensive lineman Jonathan Greenard
Wilson’s projection: Round 3
Only Gators’ analysis: Greenard tested well in his speed and agility at the combine, which is no surprise considering his athleticism is a huge plus in this draft process. With tremendous rushing ability, a hard-working attitude and a reactive nature, Greenard is the exact type of edge defender that NFL teams are looking to acquire. He is quick off the snap and bends well at corners. He’s tough and instinctive with great footwork and agility. Greenard’s wrist injury from 2018 may give some teams pause, but as long as he checks out OK, it’s just a minor bump. More pressing concerns are occasional burst issues, though he played significant downs in college.

Defensive lineman Jabari Zuniga
Wilson’s projection: Round 4
Only Gators’ analysis: Zuniga had himself a day at the combine, showcasing the athleticism that allowed him to flash throughout his time at Florida. His explosiveness was on full display with the Gators, but he lacked consistency and constant injury issues kept him off the field in 2019. It will be key for Zuniga to exploit mismatches at the next level, using his long, strong frame and athletic body to get the better of offensive linemen and blockers. Either that or his lacking lower body structure will get overwhelmed by those same players.

Running back La’Mical Perine
Wilson’s projection: Rounds 5-6
Only Gators’ analysis: Though Perine may not stand out as a starting running back in the NFL, he is dependable and consistent when carrying the ball. Perine has good burst hitting the initial hole, but he’s does not have breakaway speed in the open field and is better when he can hit the edge and take off. This may relegate him to backup duties, but he’s still a worthy draft choice above many running backs in this class as he boasts great size, physicality and overall character.

Wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland
Wilson’s projection: Round 7
Only Gators’ analysis: Cleveland put up good numbers at the combine, consistently testing among the top-third of available wideouts. His college career did not live up to expectations from a production standpoint, but his size, reliable hands and speed should give him an opportunity in the NFL. Draft evaluators will look at how Cleveland utilizes his length and strength to create separation and whether he can set himself apart athletically as a potential gunner on special teams.

Wide receiver Freddie Swain
Wilson’s projection: Round 7 or priority undrafted free agent
Only Gators’ analysis: Swain is a late Day 3 draft candidate who is looking to impress scouts with his combination of size and speed. His reliable hands and ability to seemingly always be open are attractive qualities, and he could absolutely find an opportunity right out of the gate as a special teamer and returner. One notable negative for Swain is that he catches with his body, not his arms, and he occasionally lacked physicality one-on-one.

Punter Tommy Townsend
Wilson’s projection: Round 7 or priority undrafted free agent
Only Gators’ analysis: Townsend was a quality punter in college, but considering his more-talented brother is a free agent who was not on a full-time roster in 2019, many wonder whether he will make an NFL team out of training camp. It is unlikely that Townsend will be drafted. Despite his strong hang time and good leg action, his smaller frame leaves teams concerned about durability. The 2019 season was a step back for him as well, which certainly does not help his case.

Wide receiver Joshua Hammond
Wilson’s projection: Undrafted free agent
Only Gators’ analysis: The lone Florida player not invited to the NFL Combine, Hammond never had the opportunity to work out in front of teams or interview in person. With just over 1,000 yards and six touchdowns in his career with the Gators, it is unlikely that he gets drafted, but he could pique the interest of a couple teams. Like his brother Frankie, there should be a UDFA opportunity for Joshua out there somewhere.

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