Aug 31, 2013; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive lineman Dominique Easley (2) tackles Toledo Rockets running back David Fluellen (22)during the first half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Eight Florida Gators to Participate in NFL Combine


The University of Florida will have eight players representing them in the 2014 NFL Combine, including Dominique Easley, who’s coming off a torn ACL, Marcus Roberson, Loucheiz Purifoy, and the former number-one recruit in the nation, Ronald Powell. What’s really telling about the players involved is only one of them played a “skill” position on offense, and that would be “tight end” Trey Burton. You can look at this either way: Florida’s offense had one potential playmaker or the 2014 edition of the Gators’ football team is loaded with experience and talent at the skill positions. Personally, I think it’s a little of both.

Here’s a list of all eight players and how they break down to potential NFL suitors (all analysis from NFL.com):

Trey Burton, TE

OVERVIEW

Versatile player saw time at quarterback, fullback, tight end and wide receiver. 2013: Moved to wide receiver full time. 2012: Played in 12 games and made four starts. 2011: Played in 13 games and made seven starts. 2010: SEC All-Freshman Team pick after seeing action at quarterback, fullback, tight end, wide receiver and on special teams.

ANALYSIS

STRENGTHS

Very good athlete. Natural hands-catcher. Catches in stride and adjusts very well to the flight of the ball. Keeps working to uncover and has a good feel for zones. Good route runner. Sets up defensive backs and can create some separation out of his breaks. Can make the first tackler miss and is fairly elusive. Versatile and has played every offensive skill position. Football smart — understands offensive concepts and how the pieces fit together like a former quarterback. Outstanding personal character and will represent a team with class. Is tough and durable and will play through pain. Willing, effective special-teams contributor. Highly competitive team player.

WEAKNESSES

Has short arms and is very undersized for a tight end. Lacks run strength and does not power through tackles or create much yardage after contact. Marginal blocking strength and overall length to sustain and can be overwhelmed. Lacks top-end speed to mismatch safeties.

BOTTOM LINE

A savvy, athletic, undersized H-back who was utilized in a flexed receiving role in the Gators’ offense. Has the athletic traits to earn a living working detached out of the slot as an ‘F’ tight end. Can offer a creative offensive coordinator a versatile jack-of-all-trades gimmick weapon.

Dominique Easley, DT

OVERVIEW

Suffered a torn ACL in both knees during college career. 2013: Started in three games before tearing his right ACL and medial meniscus in non-contact practice drill. 2012: Played in and started 11 games. 2011: Played in and started 12 games. 2010: Played in six games, but did not make any starts.

ANALYSIS

STRENGTHS

Has natural leverage to give blockers fits. Explodes off the snap — thrusts into gaps and wins with suddenness. Plays on his feet. Quick, active paws — shoots his hands and locks out. Disruptive penetrating ability. Relentless and energetic. Excellent pursuit effort — doesn’t quit on plays and chases outside the box and downfield. Has played inside and outside. Works hard in the weight room. Team captain.

WEAKNESSES

Lacks ideal length and bulk. Could stand to get functionally stronger. Has short arms and can be neutralized by larger linemen. Cannot be counted on to two-gap. Average production. Can be overaggressive and lose sight of the ball. Durability is a concern — tore left ACL in 2011 and right ACL in 2013.

BOTTOM LINE

Undersized, explosive, athletic, high-motor three-technique whose junior season was cut short in Week 3 by a knee injury. Injury history will likely affect his draft stock, but when healthy, he shows the ability to disrupt the backfield and pressure the quarterback. Fits best in an aggressive scheme in which he could use his quickness to slant, stunt and shoot gaps.

Jon Halapio, OG

OVERVIEW

Started in 43 of 51 games played, with 36 consecutive starts in last three seasons. 2013: Started 10 of 10 games at right guard. Missed first two games with torn pectoral. 2012: Started all 13 games at right guard. Was named SEC Offensive Lineman of the week against Vanderbilt. 2011: Started all 13 games at right guard. 2010: Played in 12 games, starting at right guard in seven. 2009: Medical redshirt.

ANALYSIS

STRENGTHS

Naturally thick with big hands. Can drive block and is effective when he has an angle. Functional anchor. Provides adequate three-step drop protection. Has a warrior’s mentality — played through an 80 percent tear of his pectoral as a senior. Made 43 career starts. Highly respected team captain.

WEAKNESSES

Tightly wound — struggles reacting to movement, changing direction and recovering. Does not generate power through his hips. Poor contact balance. Empties the chamber with initial punch and cannot recoil. Hands and feet do not work in unison. Opens the gate in pass protection. Unsudden to clear his feet and pull. Limited blocking range.

BOTTOM LINE

A Tongan-American, Halapio is a hulking short-area guard whose best traits are intangible. Is most effective in a phone booth, but too often looks like he requires max effort to provide adequate blocking. Best chance to stick will be in a slide-protection scheme.

Jonotthan Harrison, C

OVERVIEW

Started in 39 of 51 career games played. 2013: Started all 12 games at center. 2012: Started all 13 games at center. 2011: Started all 13 games (12 at center, one at left guard). 2010: Played in all 13 games with one start in Outback Bowl against Penn State at left guard. 2009: Redshirted. Dressed for nine of 14 games, but saw no playing time. High school: Was a teammate of Jeff Demps.

ANALYSIS

STRENGTHS

Outstanding size and arm length with good overall body thickness. Plays with fine balance and knee bend. Sits to anchor and can stop a charge. Matches up well vs. size and power. Strong run blocker — can generate some movement. Sets the protections and makes the line calls. Keeps his head on a swivel — shows awareness to switch off blocks and pick up the blitz and handle stunts. Good work ethic. Well-respected, articulate team player.

WEAKNESSES

Average athletic ability. Could stand to improve sustaining and finishing blocks. Lets quick penetrators cross his face. Average recovery speed once beat. Lacks ideal foot quickness and agility to pull and cut off linebackers at the second level. Can do a better job replacing his hands (tends to grab). Can learn to keep emotions in check — ejected from Arkansas game (2013) for unsportsmanlike conduct (bumped an official).

BOTTOM LINE

Very good-sized mauler functions well in a phone booth. Possesses the strength and power to match up vs. big bodies. The farther he is asked to move, the more he will struggle and would be best in a man-blocking power scheme.

Ronald Powell, OLB

OVERVIEW

2013: Played in 11 games and started in eight. 2012: Tore his left ACL two different times. First ACL tear came in spring game, and then second came during rehab. 2011: Played and started in 12 games. 2010: Played in 13 games and made one start. High school: Was No. 1-rated defensive end recruit (Rivals).

ANALYSIS

STRENGTHS

Looks the part — well-proportioned, athletic, muscular build. Natural bender. Terrific agility. Can stunt and loop. Closes fast. Flashes strong hands and power potential. Loose hips to zone drop. Was deployed as a stand-up linebacker and hand-in-the-dirt rush end. Has untapped potential.

WEAKNESSES

Inconsistent get-off. Average eyes and instincts — has to see it before he triggers. Shoddy edge setter. Plays short-armed, gets locked up and allows linemen to capture his outside shoulder. Aimless, unrefined pass rusher. Intensity and urgency leave something to be desired. Has coasted on natural talent. Had his tires pumped since high school — entitlement was an issue as a young player and his personality could rub some people the wrong way. Injury history.

BOTTOM LINE

Powell is a physically gifted, inconsistent, college “Buck” (hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker) with crude strength and athleticism. Has developmental value as a stand-up rush linebacker, but must dedicate himself to the craft and realize he’s no longer the big man on campus.

Loucheiz Purifoy, CB

OVERVIEW

2013: Played in 11 games and made seven starts. 2012: Played in all 13 games and made 12 starts. Blocked a punt as time expired that was returned for a touchdown by Jelani Jenkins to give Gators a 27-20 win over Louisiana-Lafayette. 2011: Played in all 13 games, but did not make a start.

ANALYSIS

STRENGTHS

Outstanding athleticism. Nice length, speed and fluidity. Light on his feet. Transitions smoothly. Can flip his hips and carry receivers deep. Flashes playmaking ability. Good hands to intercept. Tries to strip the ball out. Has special-teams experience returning and covering kicks — was productive as a gunner earlier in his career. Conditioned, confident and competitive. Has upside.

WEAKNESSES

Needs to get functionally stronger to jam/re-route and shed blocks. Gives up separation at the break point and gets outmuscled at the catch point. Inconsistent, leaky, underpowered tackler. Instincts and anticipation are lacking. Technique needs to be coached up — opens the gate and gets beat off the snap. Leaves production on the field — in position, but doesn’t make the play. Questionable tackle and ball production — registered just 24 tackles as a junior and logged just 12 PBUs and two INTs from 2012-13. Marginal run strength as a returner. Shared reps as a junior.

BOTTOM LINE

Lean, fluid, fast, finesse cover man whose raw physical ability and testing numbers belie frustratingly uneven performance. Has starter-caliber athleticism and will buoy his stock when the stopwatches come out, but poor instincts, tackling and tape are reasons for pause.

Marcus Roberson, CB

OVERVIEW

2013: Played in seven games and made four starts. Missed four games with a knee/ankle injury, and one more game due to a violation of team rules. 2012: Second-team All-SEC selection after playing in all 13 games and making four starts. Had 12 pass breakups, the most at the time for Florida since Joe Haden in 2008. 2011: Started first 10 games before suffering season ending neck injury.

ANALYSIS

STRENGTHS

Good size and nice body length. Transitions efficiently and shows nice plant-and-drive quickness. Flashes ball skills to break up plays. Has punt-return experience — can elude the first tackler and gain what’s blocked.

WEAKNESSES

Needs to bulk up and get functionally stronger. Struggles with bigger, stronger receivers. Lacks elite top-end speed to keep pace with burners. Anticipation and route recognition are lacking. Susceptible to double moves. Tends to clutch and grab when he’s beat. Inconsistent ball reactions. Poor tackler. Recorded just 34 tackles the last two seasons. Started 18 of 30 career games. Durability has been an issue — missed three games in 2011 (neck) and ’13 (knee). Was suspended two games as a junior.

BOTTOM LINE

Lean, athletic, finesse cornerback who did not elevate his game in 2013 when injuries, suspension and inconsistency marred his junior season. Is best deployed in off-man or zone and could develop into a No. 2 or No. 3 corner if he regains his sophomore form, though he lacks desirable instincts and tackling ability.

Jaylen Watkins, CB

OVERVIEW

2013: Played in 12 games and started in nine (three at cornerback and six at safety). 2012: Played in 13 games and started in 11. 2011: Played in 13 games and started in eight. 2010: Played in 10 games, playing mostly as a gunner on punt returns. High school: Played quarterback and cornerback. Ran track and advanced to state championships in the 400-meter relay.

ANALYSIS

STRENGTHS

Nice size for a cornerback. Good fluidity and movement skills. Alert in zones. Flashes some playmaking ability. Versatile — lines up as a corner, safety and nickel defender and plays on all special teams. Brother, Sammy, projects as a top-10 pick.

WEAKNESSES

Thin-framed, small-boned and short-armed with minimal muscular development. Lacks ideal size and strength for a safety and quickness and burst for a corner. Average press strength to re-route receivers. Allows separation at break points — late to transition out of his pedal. Too grabby. Selective hitter — shows up in spurts. Not a physical tackler. Tends to propel his shoulder into ball carriers and needs to do a better job securing tackles.

BOTTOM LINE

A fluid, loose-hipped, versatile cover man who projects to a No. 3 or No. 4 corner in the pros, Watkins could most ideally fit in the slot, with enough physicality to defend the run and fine short-area cover skills to match up with shifty receivers.

I’ve also asked Jeff Risdonthe Lions Featured Columnist on Bleacher Report, Founder/Editor at DetroitLionsDraft.com, Senior NFL Writer/Draft Analyst at RealGM.com and resident draftnik to share his scouting reports on Gators at the combine and he’s been kind enough to provide us with truly in-depth reports of Halapio and Watkins. Risdon also thinks that Florida’s best chance at a first round draft pick would be Easley, but Roberson could sneak in there. He thinks Easley is a top 45 pick.

The NFL Scouting Combine runs February 22-25 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. You can watch the Combine to see how your favorite Gators are doing on the NFL Network and also online. For what it’s worth, I think Purifoy will impress scouts the most at the Combine since he’s the best pure athlete Florida will have in attendance.

For more on the Gators make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@HailFloridaHail@BrettKaplan13 and @laynejweitzel).

Tags: Florida Gators NFL Combine