Florida Gators: NFL Draft – Mock Draft 2011, NFL lockout over

Gator Country is here to provide a preview of Thursday’s action with the 2011 NFL lockout temporarily over and the league getting ready to begin the NFL Draft.

Mock Draft from Gator Country will give you a glimpse at the former Gators who could hear their names called during this year’s Draft, which will run from Thursday to Saturday.

We’ll also provide you with a brief history and some facts and figures from past drafts.

By the numbers – Florida Gators in the NFL Draft

Florida has one of the richest traditions in college football when it comes to sending players to the NFL Draft.

Since 2000, the Gators rank 6th in college football in players drafted with 59. Of those 59, 12 were drafted in the first round, also placing Florida 6th nationally.

In its history, the Univ. of Fla. has had 307 players drafted to the NFL, with 42 going in the first round.

The most players Florida has ever had selected in a single NFL Draft is 10, in a 12-round draft in 1978. Last year, the Gators had more players selected in the draft than any other school with nine total selections.

Since 2007, Florida ranks third in players selected with 23.

While this year’s class isn’t likely to top those numbers, the Gators can certainly keep a number of active streaks alive.

Florida has had a player selected in the first round in each of the past four years, second to only Tennessee with five. One guy who has a great chance of extending that streak this year is center Mike Pouncey, who could get drafted higher than his brother.

The Gators have also had a wide receiver drafted in each of the past five NFL Drafts, one of only two schools nationally to do so. Carl Moore will have a chance to extend that streak if he can sneak into the late rounds this year.

The three teams that have drafted the most Florida players are the Pittsburgh Steelers (21), Chicago Bears (18) and the New York Giants (17). Interestingly enough, all have expressed interest in Pouncey in this year’s Draft.

Overview of Florida Gators NFL Draft class

As previously noted, this year’s class of NFL-eligible Florida Gators is notably smaller than years past. Only seven former Gators were invited to this year’s NFL Combine.

Results were mixed for the group participating, with disappointing performances by safeties Ahmad Black and Will Hill in the 40-yard dash and positive performances by Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert in the agility drills.

A handful of players who weren’t invited to the NFL Combine could also sneak into the late rounds, including Justin Trattou, Carl Moore and Emmanuel Moody.

All in all, don’t expect a huge draft class of former Florida players. Simply put, there’s not a ton of Florida talent headed to this year’s draft.

Projecting Gators in the NFL Draft – Mock Draft 2011

C Mike Pouncey

6 foot 5, 303 pounds

Pouncey performed well in the agility work at the NFL Combine and at Florida’s Pro Day back in March. Scouts like his ability to play either guard or center at the next level, and his athleticism makes him a candidate to start on opening day. He’s one of the hottest commodities on draft boards right now and could be the first interior lineman off the board in the middle of the first round.

Projection: 1st Round, Picks 15-20

T Marcus Gilbert

6 foot 6, 330 pounds

Gilbert has seen his stock rise as much as any Florida player eligible for this year’s draft. Scouts are impressed with his footwork, strength and size. The buzz at Florida’s Pro Day back in March was that some teams love his versatility and he may even be able to play guard at the next level. Still, Gilbert is clearly not a top-tier offensive linemen, so expect him to go in the middle of the third round.

Projection: Mid 3rd Round, Picks 85-105

S Ahmad Black

5 foot 9, 187 pounds

Despite incredible game footage, Black’s stock hasn’t gone up much since the season ended. He didn’t test well in straight-line speed work at either the Combine or Florida’s Pro Day. Scouts love his nose for the football and the fact he’s always around the ball, but are concerned with his lack of size and long-term durability. Regardless, Black has enough upside that some team should take him in the late third or early fourth round.

Projection: Late 3rd to Early 4th Round, Picks 90-115

P Chas Henry

6 foot 3, 219 pounds

Henry’s leg strength is phenomenal and one of the reasons the former Ray Guy Award winner is widely considered the best punter in this year’s Draft. There is some concern about his three-step punt method and whichever NFL team drafts him may ultimately want to shorten his punting motion to two steps. Henry should find himself selected somewhere between the early sixth round and mid-to-late seventh round based on leg strength and hangtime.

Projection: Early 6th to Mid 7th Round, Picks 170-220

S Will Hill

6 foot 2, 208 pounds

Hill’s size and athleticism are the only things keeping him as a draftable player. Poor performances at the NFL Combine and a relatively slow 40-yard dash time at Florida’s Pro Day have caused his stock to fall. Teams are also concerned about his off-the-field habits and work ethic. He’s a player whose stock on draft day largely depends on how willing to take a risk teams are.

Projection: Mid 6th to Undrafted, Picks 180-UFA

OG Carl Johnson

6 foot 5, 361 pounds

Johnson weighed in well over his playing weight from the 2010 season at the NFL Combine, so size is a bit of a concern for NFL scouts. Teams looking for a pulling guard likely won’t have too much interest in Johnson, so his value drops somewhat. Still, he’s played enough for some teams to consider taking a chance on him late in the draft.

Projection: Early 7th to Undrafted, Picks 210- UFA

DE Justin Trattou

6 foot 3, 249 pounds

Trattou hasn’t been talked about on many draft boards, thanks to a fairly unproductive career at Florida. But after turning in some great speed and agility numbers at Florida’s Pro Day in March, he’s caught some eyes as a guy who could play as an outside linebacker in the right system. It’s possible Trattou could sneak into the late rounds as an under-the-radar selection.

Projection: Mid 7th to Undrafted, Picks 220-UFA

RB Emmanuel Moody

6 foot, 205 pounds

Moody put up some impressive numbers at Florida’s Pro Day, but the obvious knock on him is his durability. Always banged up at Florida, he never really got a chance to showcase his skills. He’s got the measurables to be a running back in the NFL, so some team may take a chance on him very late in the draft.

Projection: Late 7th to Undrafted, Picks 225-UFA

Undrafted Free Agents

The following players could find their way onto an NFL roster as an undrafted free agent. They are listed in the order of likelihood to be drafted.

WR Carl Moore

OG Maurice Hurt

LB Brandon Hicks

LB A.J. Jones

DE Duke Lemmens

LB Lorenzo Edwards

DT Lawrence Marsh

DT Brandon Antwine