With the 2020 NFL Draft now in the rear-view mirror, analysts and those starving for football content are already looking towards the 2021 selection ceremony.
Of course, anything could happen between now and the next NFL Draft. Rising juniors and redshirt sophomores could emerge at Florida and end up becoming legitimate draft prospects. Personally, I have my eyes on defensive end/linebacker Brenton Cox Jr. and wide receiver Jacob Copeland as candidates to emerge in that respect.
But as things stand, Florida is projected to follow its successful 2020 draft haul - where seven players were selected and another four signed as undrafted free agents - with another strong class. While it's early, several players have already begun to receive draft hype from analysts and scouts.
Today, we'll take a look at the top five prospects Florida should put into the 2021 NFL Draft. It should be noted that this list isn't set in any particular order to rank the prospects.
Tight end Kyle Pitts
Without a doubt, tight end Kyle Pitts is Florida's most notable 2021 draft prospect a year out. He is already receiving a first-round label from analysts such as The Athletic's Dane Brugler, and Pro Football Focus' Mike Renner believes Pitts will be the next tight end to join the NFL's elite tier at the position.
The 6-6, 239 lb. athletic specimen is still developing as a complete tight end, but has spent plenty of time as both an in-line player and split out wide and in the slot. He emerged as Florida's most dynamic receiving threat in 2019, securing 54 receptions for 649 yards and five scores.
In Florida's pass-heavy offense that saw eight pass catchers haul in at least 20 receptions in 2019, Pitts led the team in catches and second in yards, just behind Van Jefferson who recorded 657 yards.
It's unknown what Pitts' true athletic measurable are at this time, although ESPN had him down for clocking a 4.7-second 40 yard dash in high school. It wouldn't shock anyone if he performed even greater in that area and well in other drills at the 2021 NFL Combine, should he declare after his junior season. Players of his size shouldn't be able to move as well as he does.
Wide receiver Trevon Grimes
While Grimes has yet to truly emerge as a dynamic weapon, we've seen what he is capable of in flashes. A bit lower in the pecking order as a junior, Grimes had to make every opportunity count in Florida's spread out receiving corps last season, behind four seniors at receiver and Pitts at tight end.
Yet, when Grimes did get the ball in 2019, he made things happen. He converted 23 first downs across his 33 receptions, and 8.2 of his 14.9 yards per reception came after the catch according to PFF - which is over half of his receiving production.
The 6-5, 214 lb. wide receiver is a boundary threat with great length and athleticism to pair, posting a 4.47 40 yard dash coming out of high school, per ESPN. As those four senior receivers are now out of the picture, Grimes returns to Florida as the team's de-facto WR1. If he fills that role as expected, his trajectory as a prospect will point significantly upwards.
Cornerback Marco Wilson
Marco Wilson has had an up-and-down career at Florida thanks to a torn ACL at the beginning of his sophomore season. Previous to that, Wilson was the fourth freshman cornerback in team history to start in the first game of a season. He went on to record 34 tackles and a whopping 10 pass breakups that year.
It took some time for Wilson to get back up to speed in 2019 and he looks to take the next step in 2020 as the leading veteran in Florida's secondary. Amidst struggles in nickel looks for Florida in the latter half of Florida's 2019 season, Wilson moved inside to STAR nickel corner on the fly and improved the position.
Wilson finished the season ranked tied for second on the team with three interceptions while posting 36 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and two pass breakups. It remains to be seen whether Wilson will start in the slot or back outside as a redshirt junior, but one way or another he will be expected to make a major impact.
Should he continue to improve, Wilson could become highly regarded as a prospect. He carries adequate size at 6-0, 190 lbs., and ESPN has Wilson down for a 4.42 40 yard dash. His older brother and former Gator Quincy was selected in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, so there is an NFL bloodline there.
Defensive end Zachary Carter
Set to start at strong-side defensive end full-time in 2020 after Jabari Zuniga is now off to the NFL, Zachary Carter has all the potential in the world to become a 5-technique at the NFL level. He has the size at 6-4, 287 lbs. (according to his Twitter, up from his listed weight of 263 lbs.), length, and strength required for the position.
There are conflicting reports as to Carter's 40 yard time, as ESPN has him down for a 5.23 while Bleacher Report notes a 4.9. Those results simply will have to be figured out at the NFL Combine, but his athleticism stands out on tape for a bigger defensive end and 40 times aren't as important at his position as other drills.
While Carter was on the field for less than half of the team's defensive snaps in 2019 (48.4%), he tallied 4.5 sacks (second on the team), and 20 quarterback pressures according to PFF (tied for third). In a bigger role this year, Carter should emerge as a disruptive edge rusher.
Quarterback Kyle Trask
Of course, Florida's signal-caller and arguably the top returning quarterback in the SEC needs to be included on this list. The 2021 Senior Bowl already has its eyes on Trask after his impressive breakout campaign in 2019.
After taking over for Feleipe Franks in Week 3 after Franks dislocated his ankle, Trask went on to post the most productive season of any Florida quarterback since Tim Tebow in 2007. Trask completed an impressive 66.9% of his passes and threw for 2941 yards and 25 touchdowns, while only throwing seven interceptions. Rather than coming back to compete with Trask and Emory Jones, Franks decided to transfer.
Trask will be tasked with improving his deep ball consistency in 2019, but it's clear to see why the NFL is intrigued by his skill-set and poise. The 6-5, 239 lb. signal-caller has NFL-ready size, is accurate across the middle of the field, and manages games well. He may not enter the Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields conversation as his arm strength and mobility is limited, but Trask certainly has stock as a prospect and it should only grow as he enters his first full season as Florida's QB1.