After the Florida Gators were blown out by the Louisville Cardinals in the 79th All State Sugar Bowl, juniors Matt Elam and Sharrif Floyd announced they were going to turn pro. It was widely expected that both would turn pro but they waited to announce until after the Sugar Bowl.
Elam, a Sporting News All-American at safety and leader of a defensive backfield that finished first in the nation in pass efficiency defense, was considered a lock to leave early as the lure of a big NFL contract was too much to pass up.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the NFL and I want to take care of my family,” Elam said.
He had likely proven all he could at the collegiate level and projects well in the NFL. Elam is a big, physical, hard-hitting safety who is versatile enough to play in nickel and dime coverage and is a monster up near the line of scrimmage in run support as well as a fantastic blitzer. He is projected as the number one safety and will likely be a late first or early second round pick in the upcoming NFL draft.
Floyd a large, strong run stuffing defensive tackle who was the leader of the Gators defensive line which finished fifth in the nation against the run this season, was expected to make the leap to the NFL along with Elam.
“It’s a blessing that I’m going to get a chance to do what a lot of players want to do,” Floyd said.
He added, “the fact that my coaches gave me their blessing and said, ‘Go. you’re ready, good luck to you.’ If I didn’t get that from them, I wouldn’t be leaving.”
Floyd, who moved back to his more natural defensive tackle position from the end he played last season is versatile to play nose in a 3-4 or tackle in a 4-3. He’s very strong and has good hand skills and uses good pad level and leverage to both stand up his blocker to stop the run or shed him while rushing the passer. While Floyd might could have benefitted from another season in Gainesville, most draft analysts have him in the top 6 among draft eligible defensive tackles and will likely be a mid to late 2nd round draft choice.
A few other Gator players had been considering making the jump but of them only Jordan Reed is likely to leave. He said last night after the game that he was still “undecided” and had a lot of things to consider. Defensive tackle Dominique Easley also considered leaving but at this point is likely to stay. The only other player considering leaving is linebacker Jelani Jenkins who didn’t have anything to say about it after the game but is expected to stay.