NFL Free Agency: Undrafted Florida Gators to Keep an Eye on
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In all there were 254 players selected in last week's three-day NFL Draft. Among them were four former Florida Gators - C/OG Mike Pouncey (first round, Miami Dolphins), OT Marcus Gilbert (second round, Pittsburgh Steelers), S Ahmad Black (fifth round, Tampa Bay Bucs) and OG Maurice Hurt (seventh round, Washington Redskins).
But if this hardly fan-friendly lockout ever gets settled, don't be surprised if those aren't the only members of Urban Meyer's final Gator team to earn NFL roster spots.
After all, wide receiver David Nelson watched as seven rounds passed in last year's draft only to ink with the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent.
How did he do?
The 6'5", 217-pound native of Wichita Falls, Tx. played in 15 games, starting three as a rookie. He finished the season with 31 receptions for 353 yards (11.4 ypc) and three touchdowns.
Bills coaches have said they found a steal in Nelson.
What former UF player could be steals as undrafted free agents this year?
Here is a look at who has the best shot to sign and stick with an NFL team in 2011.
1. Chas Henry, P
No doubt the only reason Henry, last year's Ray Guy Award-winner (given to the nation's most outstanding punter), wasn't taken last week is because, well...he's a punter. And most teams take the approach that the draft is for non-kicking-specialists, and free agency is for picking up punters and kickers.
Sure, there are exceptions like former Nebraska K/P Alex Henery, who was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth round. But he is just that, an exception. Look for Henry to be a priority free-agent signee, and look for him to make a roster.
Henry has value not only because he averaged 47.3 yards-a-punt as a senior, but also because he can placekick in a pinch and is a better-than-average athlete who probably would have been good enough to play quarterback at a smaller school, making him an asset on fake punts.
What undrafted former Gator has the best chance of sticking in the NFL as a free agent?
2. Will Hill, S
Yeah, there are character issues here (have you seen some of his tweets?), and yeah, he didn't exactly live up to his billing as rivals' No. 1 "athlete" and ESPN's No. 2 overall prospect in the prep Class of 2008. And somehow, the 4.4 40-yard dash he allegedly ran while at Jersey City, NJ St. Peter's Prep translated to a 4.64 three years later at the NFL Scouting Combine (where he also measured in at a quarter-inch less than 6'1" after supposedly being 6'3" in high school).
But he is worth a camp invite for a team looking for safety depth and a potential gunner on special teams. Prior to his three-year tenure at Florida, Hill got used to hearing constant praise, and sometimes young athletes can't help but fall in love with their own headlines. If Hill uses the draft snub as motivation, he could be a steal for someone.
3. Carl Johnson, OG
At 6'5", 361 pounds, Johnson is a massive man who showed a mean streak and durability while at UF. However, he is not a great athlete, and he probably would be better served playing at around 330 pounds. That would help his quickness without taking away his decent strength (25 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press at the combine). Johnson may not ever be an NFL starter, but there very well could be a place for him somewhere in the league.
Also could get looks: WR Carl Moore, RB Emmanuel Moody, DE Duke Lemmens, DE Justin Trattou, DT Lawrence Marsh, DT Brandon Antwine, DT Terron Sanders, LB A.J. Jones, LB Lorenzo Edwards, LB Brandon Hicks, QB Josh Portis (started college career at UF, transferred to Maryland, finished at California University of Pennsylvania)
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