Florida Football: Given those drafted, should the 2022 Gators offense have been better?

The Gators have now had four players from their 2022 offense drafted, but were 61st in points scored

It was a moment of celebration for Florida Football last night as Ricky Pearsall was drafted in the 1st round by the San Francisco 49ers. The wide receiver was on everyone's radar following a near 1,000 yard season and it kept a streak going for the Gators of having someone drafted in the first round for five straight years.

Pearsall is now the fourth player from the 2022 Gators offense to get drafted, with a handful of others still with the possibility of adding to that list.

It does ask the question however that if Florida had plenty of NFL talent during Billy Napier's debut season, should the offense have been better than it was?

Florida Football: Talent Was There

Now before you go firing off some angry message that is just going to get deleted saying something along the lines of "The offense wasn't the problem in 2022, it was the defense," you would be half correct. In three of the six regular season losses in 2022, the offense scored a minimum of 33 points (Tennessee, LSU, and FSU) and had the Gators had a semi competent defense they could have gone 9-3 and many of the conversation's surrounding Napier would be moot.

But for as much as the narrative surrounding the 2022 squad was how bad the defense was, and don't get it twisted it was a train wreck, the offense wasn't exactly a season long juggernaut.

Against Kentucky the Gators scored 16 points and Anthony Richardson threw a back breaking pick six. Against Missouri the offense only managed 17 points as Jaydon Hill saved the day with two interceptions, including a pick six. Against Vanderbilt, while Xzavier Henderson's punt muff was the culprit we all remember, the Gators still only scored 24 points against the 9th worst scoring defense in the country in 2022.

The final metrics from the season paint the picture of a middle of the road offense at best. Against FBS opponents, Florida averaged 27 points per game in 2022, 61st in the country. Their points per play and yards per play were better, but the Gators were downright woeful in two other key categories.

Success Rate is defined as a play that gains at least 40% of yards required on 1st down, 60% of yards required on 2nd down, and 100% on 3rd or 4th down. Florida was tied for next to last in the SEC in success rate in 2022, having a "successful" play just 39% of the time.

Point Per Opportunity is defined by comparing the total number of drives that reach at least the opponent's 40 yard line with the number of points scored in those opportunities. With an average of 3.6 points per drive that made it inside the opponent's 40, the Gators were also next to last in the SEC in 2022 in this category.

If Napier had inherited a squad that was completely devoid of talent, it would be fair to look past that campaign with eyes on the future. But the 2022 squad can now say it had the QB drafted 4th overall (Richardson), two wide receivers get drafted (Pearsall and Justin Shorter), and an offensive lineman get drafted in the second round (O'Cyrus Torrence). On top of that, Richard Gouraige spent last year on Buffalo's practice squad and three more Gators from that 2022 team could easily wind up on an NFL roster the next two seasons (Kingsley Eguakun, Montrell Johnson, and Trevor Etienne).

So if one wants to know why people are skeptical about Napier's insistence to remain the offensive coordinator for the Gators, it's because in 2022 he was two offensive linemen and a tight end short of potentially having an entire offense that would wind up in the NFL, and the Gators were middle of the pack at best.

With a better defense in 2024, Florida can go 8-4 or even 9-3 if the offense continues to perform at the level it has in Napier's first two seasons. If Florida ever wants to make a run in the playoffs, it is going to need improvement on offense and get the most out of the talent they have while they are still members of the Florida Gators.