Day three of the 2014 NFL Draft definitely provided a few surprises. The most prevalent for Florida fans is two of the Gators most talented players eligible for the draft were not selected. Cornerbacks Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy went undrafted after being mentioned as possible first round picks before the start of last season. More on that in a bit. Day three also saw three Gators drafted to bring the total number of UF draftees to four. Defensive back Jaylen Watkins, defensive end/linebacker Ronald Powell, and offensive lineman Jon Halapio joined first rounder Dominique Easley in being picked by NFL teams.
Jaylen Watkins didn’t wait much to see his name on Saturday. With the first pick of round four, the Philadelphia Eagles selected Watkins as the 101st player off the board. Watkins flew up draft boards after his participation in the Senior Bowl. His workouts at the NFL Combine and at the UF Pro Day also helped his cause. The fact that Watkins was a model citizen throughout his time at Florida proved advantageous as well. Even though he might have been the third most talented defensive back out of his school, Watkins was the only one selected, largely due to his attitude. Watkins joins former Gator wide receiver Riley Cooper in Philly, along with tight end/H-back Trey Burton who signed as an undrafted free agent after not hearing his name called. Watkins was excited to join the Eagles:
— Jaylen Watkins (@jwat14) May 10, 2014
Ronald Powell comes into a system that will suit his ability best. With the 29th pick in round five (169 overall), Powell went to the New Orleans Saints. Working under defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s system should help Powell develop into a solid pass rusher. Powell had a decent career at Florida, but unfortunately was sidelined by ACL troubles and surgeries for about half his time at UF. He was the number one rated overall prospect coming out of high school, and, given his talent level, the Saints look like they got a steal. Powell took to twitter shortly after being drafted:
Who dat is, of course, the Saints rally cry. After it sunk in a little, Powell said this:
— Ronald Powell (@MrSupeR7PoWieB) May 11, 2014
Jon Halapio joined the previously drafted Dominique Easley when the New England Patriots picked him 179th overall, or the third pick of the sixth round. Easley and Halapio had a fun exchange on twitter:
EASE!!!!!!! — Jon Halapio (@Jhalapio67) May 9, 2014
You thought you could run away from me @MR_ChUcKiE_2 !! Lol back to work we go. GO GATORS
— Jon Halapio (@Jhalapio67) May 10, 2014
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick obviously has an affinity for Florida players since Halapio was the eighth Gator to be drafted by the Patriots. Other Gators not drafted have been signed as undrafted free agents.
Wide receiver Solomon Patton signed on with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, joining fellow WR Louis Murphy (who signed this offseason) and running back/kick returner Jeff Demps.
Defensive tackle Damien Jacobs and linebacker Darrin Kitchens inked a deal with the Buffalo Bills, joining former All-American LB Brandon Spikes. That should provide a great opportunity for Kitchens to learn from. Jacobs reaction:
Just became the newest member of the Buffalo Bills, God is great! — Damien Jacobs (@HallUFameDame) May 11, 2014
#BillsMafia showing love already!
— Damien Jacobs (@HallUFameDame) May 11, 2014
Center Jon Harrison signed with the Indianapolis Colts and reported for duty Monday:
Harrison joins fellow offensive lineman Xavier Nixon and running back Chris Rainey in Indy.
Finally, it looks like offensive lineman Kyle Koehne will get a crack at the NFL as well. He tweeted out that he has a tryout with the Atlanta Falcons coming up:
Looks like I’m going to be trying out for the #Falcons next weekend!!
— Kyle Koehne (@KingKone64) May 11, 2014
UPDATE (5/12/14 Noon EST):
Monday morning saw CB Marcus Roberson sign with the St. Louis Rams. The Rams pick up a talented CB with some off the field issues from Florida. That might ring a bell. St. Louis drafted former Gators CB Janoris Jenkins two years ago. Jenkins was the first freshman cornerback to start in his first game with Florida and Roberson followed him the very next year and eventually took the position Jenkins vacated. It should be interesting to see if Jenkins can teach Roberson about maturity and how to make it in the league.
UPDATE (5/12/14 12:30PM EST):
And CB Loucheiz Purifoy has now signed with the Indianapolis Colts. Purifoy’s attitude may have contributed to him being the last eligible Gator signed, but he might be one of the most talented. We’ll see if he can stick with the Colts, but it seems like a win-win for both the player and the team. Indy needed help on D and Purifoy can do that. With some good coaching on technique, he could become a decent CB in the NFL.
Good luck to all of those Gators who signed with NFL teams, making their dreams come true!
Tags: Damien Jacobs Darrin Kitchens Dominique Easley Florida Gators Jaylen Watkins Jon Halapio Jon Harrison Kyle Koehne Loucheiz Purifoy Marcus Roberson NFL NFL Draft Ronald Powell Solomon Patton Trey Burton