It is getting that time of the year where fans all across the country start talking about which players will enter the NFL Draft at the season’s end.
Not only are fans worried about losing their favorite team’s seniors, but more importantly, they are watching to see which underclassmen will decide to forgo the remainder of their college career to enter the draft.
A player must be three years out of high school in order to enter the draft in April.
CBSSports.com recently posted its top NFL prospects, including underclassmen, and Florida had an impressive 12 players make the list.
The first potential draft pick making the list for the Gators is junior defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. At 6-foot-3, 303-pounds, Floyd is a prototypical NFL defensive tackle and is projected to go between the first and second rounds.
While Floyd’s statistics may not stand out from other highly-rated defensive linemen, he has had a good year for the Gators with 35 tackles, four quarterback hurries and a blocked kicked.
Junior safety Matt Elam is the second Florida player on the list and is ranked as the top strong safety in this year’s class.
The 5-foot-10, 202-pound Elam has 47 tackles on the year, including a sack, and three interceptions, which is tied for the Gators’ team lead. He is projected to go in the second round.
Florida junior tight end Jordan Reed is projected as a third-round prospect. At 6-foot-3, 243-pounds, Reed is the third-ranked tight end.
Reed is currently leading Florida with 33 catches for 371 yards and three touchdowns.
Junior linebacker Jelani Jenkins is also projected to be a third-round draft pick. The 6-foot, 237-pound Jenkins is the ninth-ranked linebacker for the 2013 draft.
Jenkins has missed some time this year with a broken thumb and a hamstring problem but still has 16 tackles, including two sacks, on the year.
Offensive tackles are currently a big need in the NFL and the Gators have an experienced one in senior Xavier Nixon, who has been a four-year starter for Florida.
The 6-foot-5, 314-pound Nixon is rated as the 10th offensive tackle in the draft and is projected to be a third- or fourth-round pick.
Rounding out the third round for the Gators is senior running back Mike Gillislee, who is rated as the ninth-best running back in 2013 and is projected to be drafted in the third or fourth round.
This season, Gillslee has 826 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on 4.5 yards per carry.
Junior defensive tackle Dominique Easley has battled with knee problems this year but is still projected to be a fourth-round draft pick. He is rated as the 13th defensive tackle in the draft.
On the year, Easley has 15 tackles and 2.5 sacks in limited playing time.
Starting senior free safety Josh Evans is ranked as the ninth best free safety. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Evans is a fifth-round draft pick.
Evans leads Florida in tackles with 62 on the year and has two sacks and two interceptions.
A fifth- to sixth-round draft pick is where linebacker Lerentee McCray is projected to be drafted. CBS rates the senior as the 19th-best outside linebacker in this class.
McCray has played in eight games this season and has 18 tackles, two sacks and one interception for the Gators’ defense.
Florida’s second linebacker in the draft projection is senior Jon Bostic. The 6-foot-1, 246-pound Bostic is projected to be drafted in the fifth or sixth round and is rated the eighth-best linebacker in the class.
Rounding out the draft for Florida, according to CBS, is senior kicker Caleb Sturgis, who is listed as the second-best kicker in the class. He is projected to be seventh-round draft pick.
Sturgis has hit 15 field goals this year, including three from 50 yards or better, and has a season-long of 51 yards.
One of Florida’s unsung heroes this year is senior defensive tackle Omar Hunter. who is projected to be a seventh-round draft pick or a rookie free agent.