In terms of producing NFL talent, the Florida Gators hit rock bottom following their 2011 campaign. Only two Gators were selected in the 2012 NFL draft: Jaye Howard and the speedy Chris Rainey.
Howard's selection in the fourth round marked the lowest position at which the first Gator was selected in any draft since 1993. It was also the first time since the 2006 NFL draft that a Gator was not selected in the first round. Relatively speaking, draft weekend was a miniature disaster.
Even though Florida's 2011 upperclassmen had been recruited by Urban Meyer, these developments also did substantial harm to current head coach Will Muschamp's reputation. After all, he had taken over one of the most dominant football programs of the new millennium and subsequently led the team no further than the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl.
This was no doubt due to the struggles associated with shifting from the spread offense to a more conventional one. However, the word "patience" is nearly impossible to find in the vocabulary of an SEC football fan who demands instant gratification.
Muschamp drew ire from both football experts and the Gator faithful. Luckily for Muschamp, the Gators are off to a great start this season. Furthermore, there are a number of Gators who have a great chance of being drafted next spring.
They may not be top-flight, first-round talents, but they are proof that the team is moving forward. Here's a look at some of the Gators' best NFL draft prospects.