There are officially less than two weeks remaining until the 2021 NFL Draft, and the Florida Gators are certainly expected to be well-represented in the event.
While tight end Kyle Pitts, receiver Kadarius Toney and quarterback Kyle Trask are the headliners, there are plenty of others to consider, including placekicker Evan McPherson, who could become the first Gators specialist to be selected in the draft since punter Johnny Townsend in 2018.
McPherson, a three-year starter with Florida, was thought to be one of the best kickers in the nation entering the season and was named to the Lou Groza Award watch list prior to the season, given to the best placekicker in the nation. He was a semi-finalist for the award in 2020, the second time he made the semi-finalist list (2018).
During his career at Florida, McPherson would convert 149 out of 150 of his extra points, including a perfect 50 for 50 in 2018, and a perfect 52 for 52 in 2020. He would miss just one extra point in 2019. In three years, he would go on to convert 51 out of 60 (85%) of his field goals. His career average of 85% is No. 1 in the SEC.
While McPherson was unable to convert his final three 50+ yard attempts, he routinely showed off his leg talent, including during Week 1 against Ole Miss in 2020 by way of a career-long 55-yard field goal attempt with 9:30 remaining in the third quarter. This would put Florida at a 38-21 advantage over Ole Miss.
Ultimately, McPherson would give Florida an advantage, allowing them to take concessions on offense in order to give them a point advantage.
"I think it's a little different for us because we do have the luxury of having (kicker) Evan McPherson, so you get that ball across the 50 you're kind of in his range," former Gators offensive coordinator Brian Johnson said last season when asked how the offense operates beyond the 50-yard-line.
"Obviously, you want to score touchdowns, but ultimately you want to score points."
Reported in March by Justin Melo of The Draft Network, McPherson had been in contact with at least 16 teams in the NFL, or half of the league itself.
While he may ultimately not be selected this year, McPherson certainly has an argument, and the number of teams interested in his services could provide him a way to get drafted in the sixth or seventh rounds of the draft, a place where many placekickers have been selected in the past.