Former Florida corners Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson were the duo Gator fans were looking forward to seeing fulfill their lifelong dreams of making it in the NFL. Analysts predicted they would be top prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft. But as this past weekend went on, we watched their draft opportunities dwindle with each passing round. The final pick, Mr. Irrelevant, was made and at that moment the unimaginable became a reality: both Purifoy and Roberson went undrafted. Why?
Think back to Florida’s 2012 football season. As a sophomore, Purifoy’s debut was nothing short of fantastic. He played in 13 games accumulating 51 tackles, three forced fumbles, and seven kickoff returns for 167 yards. Against Louisiana-Lafayette, Purifoy blocked a punt that Jelani Jenkins returned for a touchdown to seal the 27-20 win for the Gators in the final seconds of the game. He was a definite playmaker for Florida. It was then the Purifoy draft hype began. Let’s fast forward to 2013. Purifoy started the season on a sour note, being suspended for the first game due to a violation of team rules. He also added drug related run-ins with the law to his résumé. In addition to his off-field issues, Purifoy’s on-field production took a nosedive. He was inconsistent, got burned on coverage more times than not, and just didn’t seem focused. Did any of this affect him in the draft? You bet it did. His sub-par performance at the NFL Combine and Florida’s Pro Day didn’t help either. Purifoy ran the 40-yard dash at a surprisingly sluggish 4.61 and only benched 225 lbs. six times, the least reps of any defensive back at the Combine. With his off-field antics and his spotty on-field showings, Purifoy was an easy prospect for teams to pass on in the draft.
What about Marcus Roberson? Granted, he was also suspended for Florida’s first game of the season for violating team rules and was arrested once by campus police for underage drinking in 2013 , but his rap sheet still isn’t nearly as colorful as Purifoy’s. Something also of note: There was a report of a player being sent home before the South Carolina game this past season and it seems Roberson was the guilty party. According to experts, Roberson actually had a better chance of being drafted than Purifoy did. So what happened? One word: injuries. In his time at Florida, Roberson was only healthy for one full season. NFL teams are extremely wary of players who get injured often, especially ones with neck injuries like the one he suffered late in his freshman campaign. They are liabilities, not assets. Like Purifoy, Roberson also turned in unimpressive Combine and Pro Day performances with a 4.61 40-yard dash and just eight reps on the bench. Again, it was all too easy for teams to forego picking him up.
No one expected Purifoy and Roberson to go undrafted. However, as of Monday, they have both signed with NFL teams. Purifoy came to terms with the Indianapolis Colts and Roberson will be making his way to Missouri to join the St. Louis Rams. Even though they have signed to these teams as free agents, they will still have to make the final 53-man roster. It won’t be easy. Considering how obvious it was that neither Purifoy nor Roberson was ready to enter the NFL, they will really have to work hard to prove otherwise.