While the 2021 NFL Draft is still several months away, and the college football world is still waiting to see if games will even be played this season, NFL Draft analysts remain vigilant, releasing rankings that will be used for months on end.
The latest set of 2021 NFL Draft rankings comes from ESPN's Todd McShay who has covered the draft for decades now. With several Florida Gators slated to become eligible for the draft following the conclusion of this season, it appears McShay has taken a liking to at least some of the players on this year's team.
McShay breaks down his ranking into position group ranking and overall with a top-50 list as the headliner. Only a few Gators are listed, including tight end Kyle Pitts, cornerback Marco Wilson and safety Shawn Davis. One notable omission is redshirt senior quarterback Kyle Trask who could not even muster a top-10 positional ranking from the draft analyst.
Of those that are ranked, both Pitts and Wilson earned spots in McShay's top 50 with Pitts listed as the second-best tight end and ranked 27th overall and Wilson listed as the sixth-best cornerback and an overall ranking of 39th. Davis fell to 60th overall, while being listed as the third-best safety, according to McShay.
Pitts, 6-foot-6, 239 pounds is entering his junior season and is fully expected to be selected somewhere in the first round or high second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and the consensus is certainly set with Pitts being one of the top-2 tight ends in all of college football who are draft eligible. According to McShay, only one tight end that is draft-eligible and that is Penn State's Pat Freiermuth, who is ranked as the 24th-overall prospect.
Gators head coach Dan Mullen recently emphasized the importance of not only the tight end position, but specifically Pitts in his offense this season, stating "He’s (Pitts is) a mismatch. That’s what I’ve always seen the tight end position to be. Is somebody you can get in there to create mismatches on the field.”
Last season, Pitts hauled in 54 passes for 649 yards and five touchdowns and looks to have an even better season in 2021.
Wilson, 6-foot, 190 pounds, is heading into his redshirt junior season and is the heart and leader of the Gators secondary. While he missed all of his sophomore season due to an injury, Wilson made up for it in playing his role last year. As a STAR and boundary cornerback in the Gators defense, Wilson occupied much of the field, being used wherever the team needed him most.
In 2020, Wilson accumulated 36 tackles (23 solos), 2.5 tackles-for-loss and three interceptions. While he hasn't been the most dominant player for Florida, he is expected to take a bigger leap in 2021, two years removed from his injury.
Davis, 5-foot-11, 185 pounds is entering his senior season at Florida and is part of a heavy rotation at safety. While the Gators do replace their safeties often in their defense, Davis was one of the most-frequent players manning the defensive backfield, starting nine games, appearing in 12.
Last season, Davis tallied 51 tackles, the four most on the team, and came down with three interceptions on the year. He was also one of four defensive backs to finish the season with at least three interceptions.
The Gators are heading into a season in which many players are cast aside as unknowns, while there are certainly cases to be made against the positional rankings McShay has published, the players listed sure do meet the mark, while others have a lot to prove.