Florida Football: Who Is Replacing Every Former Gator Taken in 2014 NFL Draft
The Florida Gators had four players selected in the 2014 NFL draft, which equals the number of wins they had last season.
While it’s always great that the university continues to produce top talent, seeing them drafted means the coaching staff must find quality guys to replace them.
The good news for Florida fans is that most of the players stepping in have starting experience already. These players aren’t wet behind the ear. They won't be thrown in the fire with no playing experience.
In fact, replacing Florida’s draftees should cause little concern for the team.
Here are the Gators who heard their names called over the weekend and the players who will replace them this season.
Darious Cummings (Dominique Easley)
It’s never easy to replace a talent like Dominique Easley, who was selected in the first round, despite tearing his ACL for the second time in his career. However, it will be a lot easier for Darious Cummings after he started six games at defensive tackle last year due to Easley’s injury.
Cummings has a head start on the tall task, finishing with 15 tackles, three tackles for loss and a forced fumble. He is an athletic player with a solid first step, and he’s spent the offseason trimming down a bit.
The defensive line is one of the top units for the Gators. Cummings is going to be a key player in making the line successful. His experience starting at the position is going to do wonders for him this season.
Marcus Maye (Jaylen Watkins)
Much like Darious Cummings, Marcus Maye isn’t exactly a young player entering a new situation. Maye began last season as a starter, but he only lasted two games before being benched after giving up huge plays in the passing game.
Maye still has things to work on and has at times continued to be a headache for the coaching staff. His instincts aren’t terrific and he can be a liability at times in coverage. However, given his faults, he’s still a versatile player who is comfortable playing close to the line of scrimmage and has solid ball skills.
Jaylen Watkins was third on the team in tackles last year and broke up seven passes. Maye has the potential to be just as productive this season. It’s just a matter of putting everything together and being a little more consistent.
Neiron Ball (Ronald Powell)
Another Florida player drafted, another experienced player expected to step in.
Seriously—the Gators are in terrific shape as far as replacing production is concerned.
Ronald Powell had a solid season last year in returning from injury, as he finished with 26 tackles and four sacks. Neiron Ball started seven games at linebacker and racked up 25 tackles.
Again, there's really not much of a drop off here.
Ball does have a little bit of an injury history as well, but he’s a solid tackler and is capable of wreaking havoc off the edge. He’s tremendously athletic and could soon develop into one of the main playmakers on Florida’s defense.
Due to Powell’s lengthy injury history, it may be fair to say Ball is more of an upgrade at the position.
Trenton Brown (Jon Halapio)
Trenton Brown played in 12 games last year and started five at right tackle. He entered spring in much better shape and is expected to take over the right guard spot to help improve the running game.
Brown was one of the top performers throughout spring ball due to his ability to get to the second level and flash some of his hidden athleticism.
Remember, this is a guy who was listed at 6’3”, 361 pounds.
The big man recently had hernia surgery, but he is expected to make a full recovery well before fall camp begins.
Jon Halapio started 43 games for the Gators and was team captain last season. While his leadership will be missed, Brown’s sheer size could help make Florida a better running team this season.
Gators Who Were Not Drafted
Cornerback - Loucheiz Purifoy
Cornerback - Marcus Roberson
Tight End - Trey Burton
Offensive Lineman - Jonotthan Harrison
Wide Receiver - Solomon Patton
Linebacker - Darrin Kitchens
Defensive End - Damien Jacobs
Offensive Lineman - Kyle Koehne