Tonight the NFL Draft will kick off in Kansas City, and over the three-day event, it is anticipated that up to nine former members of Florida football will have their names called as new members of the National Football League.
The Gators will potentially end the weekend with among the top five schools nationally to send players to the NFL in 2023. And while it will make for a good Tweet and selling point for recruits, it also will leave questions about why Florida struggled so much in 2022.
Florida Football: Chomping at the bit
Anthony Richardson will be the headliner for Florida tonight, and most believe he will be gone within the first five picks. Most people have already asked the question, “How do you have Anthony Richardson and still go 6-7 in 2022?”
We know the answer is due to a multitude of reasons, from a dumpster fire left behind by Dan Mullen to Billy Napier opting to employ Tony the Tiger as his defensive coordinator. One of the common defenses is that Napier didn’t have the players to compete in 2022.
But as we chronicled on this website, it’s not like Florida was so talent deficient that it was pre-destined to go 6-7. According to 247 Sports, the Gators had the 14th most talented roster heading into 2022. On paper, their roster was better than Tennessee, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, FSU, and Oregon State.
And while nine potential draft picks can go a long way on the recruiting trail when convincing recruits that if they come to Florida, they have a very real pathway to the NFL. This is the model that Alabama and Georgia use.
By comparison, Georgia had 15 draft picks in 2022, LSU was second with 10, and Cincinnati was third with nine. So if Anthony Richardson, O’Cyrus Torrence, Gervon Dexter, Brenton Cox Jr., Ventrell Miller, Trey Dean, Rashad Torrence, Justin Shorter, and Richard Gouriage can all get drafted, Florida will finish among the top schools in the country.
It will also beg the question, “How do you have nine guys get chosen in the NFL Draft and still go 6-7?”
Napier is tearing the program down and building it from scratch, and we here at Hail Florida Hail do believe in the long-term foundation he is putting in place.
That doesn’t mean the short-term results are immune from critique, and these next three days will offer another chance to reflect on the 2022 season.