Florida Gators in NFL mock drafts

Of all the 2013 mock NFL Drafts that have been posted in recent weeks, the grand daddy of them all came out on Wednesday with ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. posting his first predictions for the first round.

Florida Gators defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd is slotted at No. 30, which would have him playing for the San Francisco 49ers, the same team where his Gators position coach, Bryant Young, starred from 1994-2007.

Floyd touched Gator Nation hearts one more time when he took out an advertisement in the student-run newspaper on Wednesday, thanking everyone for his three years at UF while also promising to remain an active part of the program.

Here’s what Kiper wrote in his analysis on Floyd:

”At some point, San Francisco has to assume that the ageless Justin Smith might finally need a breather, and Floyd is the type of versatile defensive lineman who profiles well as a 3-4 defensive end. Florida moved Floyd to the inside during his sophomore season, but he was back at defensive end this season, and just kept getting better. Like Smith, he’s a powerful player who can push the pocket with power and will free up other pass-rushers, while making tackles for loss on his own.”

To note, Kiper’s assessment was incorrect about Floyd moving to defensive end this season as the 6-foot-3, 303-pound junior played far more snaps at defensive tackle.

Kiper’s latest “Big Board” has Floyd at No. 22, one spot up from a week ago.

While Kiper’s mock draft only featured the first round, he does mention a few other Gators. He has tight end Jordan Reed ranked as the No. 5 player at his position while also listing Floyd as the No. 5 defensive tackle in his “Top 5 prospects at every position.”

Kiper has Jon Bostic ranked as the No. 5 inside linebacker prospect and Matt Elam as the No. 2 safety while writing, “Matt Elam makes a lot of plays, and what he lacks in size he makes up for in anticipation.” Caleb Sturgis is Kiper’s No. 2 kicker behind Florida State’s Dustin Hopkins.

While Kiper’s mock draft only features the first round, other prognosticators go deeper into the draft.

The website WalterFootball.com has Elam going before Floyd with the No. 29 pick by the Baltimore Ravens. That is an interesting take, especially with reports of star safety Ed Reed’s possible retirement.

“Jason La Canfora recently reported that some of Ed Reed’s teammates believe that he won’t be back with the Ravens next year. Reed’s an impending free agent, so he may move on with Ray Lewis also leaving. If that happens, Baltimore will obviously be looking for a new safety this offseason,” via WalterFootball.com.

The site has Floyd heading to the Miami Dolphins with the No. 42 overall selection. It also contradicts Kiper’s analysis of Floyd projecting as a defensive end. Here’s what WalterFootball.com writes in its reasoning for that prediction:

“Stud defensive tackle Randy Starks will be a free agent in March. If the Dolphins can’t retain him, they’ll have to find a replacement this offseason. They’d have the option of moving Jared Odrick inside, but they may not want to do that if they can get someone as talented as Sharrif Floyd in Round 2.”

Walter Football has Reed joining Floyd in Miami, projecting the pass-catching tight end to go in the third round with the No. 82 overall pick by the Dolphins.

“The Dolphins spent a third-round pick on a tight end last year, but it’s unlikely that Michael Egnew will be on the roster in September. Ryan Tannehill needs a real intermediate option,” via WalterFootball.com.

The site has Bostic going in the fourth round to the Arizona Cardinals with the No. 100 overall pick, pointing out how Cards inside linebacker Paris Lenon is a free agent who is coming off an “awful” season.

Gators running back Mike Gillislee also is projected as a fourth rounder by Walter Football, which has him taking handoffs from Peyton Manning as the No. 122 selection by the Denver Broncos. It says current Broncos and former Georgia rusher Knowshon Moreno “can’t be trusted” while Willis McGahee “is old” and Ronnie Hillman is “just a change-of-pace back” in its reasoning for Denver drafting Gillislee.

CBSSports.com analysts Rob Rang and Dane Brugler’s mock drafts run side-by-side to compare. They differ in all except for one first-round pick but have both Floyd and Elam picked as first-rounders.

Brugler has Floyd much higher than most as the No. 18 overall pick by the Dallas Cowboys, while Rang has Floyd headed to the Broncos at No. 28. Like WalterFootball.com, Brugler has Elam headed to the Ravens at No 29, while Rang sees the New England Patriots taking Elam with the No. 31 overall pick.

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Mike Capshaw brings a wealth of experience to the Gator Country team. He’s been overseeing all editorial aspects of GatorCountry.com and Gator Country magazine by managing our team of staffers, interns and freelancers. He is now moving into a bigger role as a reporter by covering the football and basketball beats as well as providing coverage of all sports on campus. Mike’s 15 years in the business has included more than six years of covering SEC sports and recruiting at a daily newspaper in Arkansas. He has also helped launch a newspaper, magazines, websites and even a sports talk radio show. Because Mike puts family ahead of his career, he left the place where he was established when his wife received an opportunity to further her career at UF. He took a leap of faith that he could find a job in the Gainesville area and worked for a year at a newspaper group before joining the Gator Country family in November, 2011. Mike has won Florida Press Association awards for Best Sports Game Story and Best Sports Feature Story in the past two years as well as a company-wide award at his former newspaper group that includes some 60 publications, for Excellence in Sports Reporting. You can follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeCapshawGC.