Following the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Drafts, grades are rolling in from various sites and analysts.
Pro Football Focus Mike Renner has released theirs, grading all 255 selections based on team need and their scouting reports on each prospect. As for the seven Florida Gators selected throughout the draft, PFF wasn't overly fond.
The data-driven site praised the Jacksonville Jaguars for taking cornerback C.J. Henderson with the ninth overall pick. Otherwise, PFF got picky with almost every former Gator being picked as high as they were. Let's take a look at each bit of analysis, and break it down.
CB C.J. Henderson: Jacksonville Jaguars - first round, ninth overall
"Cornerback was an absolute must for Jacksonville after traded away Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. While he is coming off a down year at Florida in which he gave up a whopping five receptions that resulted in a 40-plus yard gain — three more than any other top-10 cornerback in this class — C.J. Henderson is right behind Okudah in terms of man-coverage skills. In single coverage at outside corner since 2018, Henderson allowed a minimal 20 catches on 44 targets while making as many plays on the ball as the number of first downs allowed (16)." - PFF
PFF is higher on Henderson's selection than any other prospect in Florida's class, and it makes sense as reports surfaced that Henderson was viewed as a top ten prospect by teams before the draft began.
One aspect that is new information to me is how well Henderson played on an island dating back through the 2018 season, a testament to his man coverage prowess. Rather, it appeared on tape throughout the season that Florida's inconsistent safety and linebacker play in the passing game hurt Henderson in zone coverage.
Specifically, LSU ran a rub-route combination in which Henderson and linebacker Ventrell Miller collided, which led to a 54 yard touchdown from Ja'Marr Chase. That touchdown counts against the number of receptions for a 40-plus yard gain in PFF's eyes. The Jaguars' linebacker and safety corps are more dependable in coverage, which should help Henderson out.
WR Van Jefferson: Los Angeles Rams - second round, 57th overall
"It makes [sense] for the Rams to take a wide receiver here, given that they parted ways with Brandin Cooks earlier this offseason. The question becomes whether Van Jefferson was the right guy — and we’re going to lean towards no. Jefferson has some speed and is already a terrific route-runner, but his highest career grade came at 71.0 last season. The high-level production just hasn’t been there. With Jefferson turning 24 before next season starts, that is concerning." - PFF
I can't argue with PFF's 71.0 grade for Jefferson in 2019, as I don't know their grading formula. Though according to their scale, a 71.0 equates to an above-average grade, and that label feels like a fair expectation for a late second-round pick.
Which, is only slightly above where most draft analysts were projecting Jefferson to be drafted. Notably, NFL.com's Lance Zierlein, The Draft Network, and CBS Sports viewed Jefferson as a mid-to-late third-round player.
Age is certainly a concern with any NFL Draft prospect, and receivers of Jefferson's age have carried skepticism in the past. You wonder, at that point, how much room that prospect has left to grow both physically and within their game. But the concern regarding Jefferson's lack of high-level production lacks the context that Florida had eight pass-catchers haul in at least 20 receptions in 2019.
That isn't a Jefferson concern, that's a coaching strategy by Dan Mullen in order to keep players fresh. He's said it as such, and it paid off for the team as a whole. Florida owned the No. 16 passing offense in the nation in 2019, and went on to see three receivers drafted. That number led all schools in the NFL Draft, and it should be noted that the 2020 NFL Draft tied a modern-era record with 36 receivers selected.
Edge rusher Jabari Zuniga: New York Jets, third round, 79th overall
"This was a bit of a surprise to see — a freak athlete, but Zuniga couldn’t come close to dominating the better tackles in college football like he would do to the bad ones. Over the course of his career, Zuniga posted just a 13% win rate against Power-5 tackles. He’s a project and one who would be worth taking on Day 3, but at the 79th overall pick? That’s a huge stretch." - PFF
Zuniga's production against tougher competition is a concern that I share with PFF in regards to his draft stock, which is why I viewed his counterpart in Jonathan Greenard as a better pro prospect. In 25 career SEC games, Zuniga posted 7.5 sacks. Whereas, Greenard recorded four sacks in seven SEC games during his lone season at Florida.
However, Zuniga's athleticism is off the charts and the group of edge rushers in the 2020 NFL Draft left something to be desired outside of Ohio State's Chase Young. In which case, taking a chance on the following athletic traits that Zuniga provides makes a load of sense in the middle of the third round.
- 40-yard dash: 4.64 seconds, 93rd percentile among NFL defensive linemen
- Broad jump: 127 inches, 97th percentile
- Vertical jump: 33 inches, 68th percentile
- Bench press: 29 reps, 76th percentile
He's undersized compared to the traditional defensive lineman at 6-3, 264 lbs., but in the Jets' 3-4 base defense Zuniga can be moved around as a defensive end, interior rusher, and perhaps even outside linebacker based on matchups. The risk is worth the reward here.
Edge rusher Jonathan Greenard: Houston Texans - third round, 90th overall
"Greenard is one of the lower-ranked players to come off the PFF Big Board thus far at 167th overall. He’s not exactly a dynamic athlete, and his inability to get around the edge against better tackles is what drops him down our board. There are some things to get behind with Greenard technically. His hand usage is some of the best in the country, and he has a natural feel for setting up offensive tackles. It’s just hard to win consistently against NFL tackles with his burst and bend. Greenard projects to slide in as edge depth for the Texans." - PFF
The major difference in opinion here is that PFF views Greenard as a mid-fifth round prospect. Whereas, AllGators considered Greenard to be a fringe second-to-third round player after his explosive season at Florida.
Explosion is a good word to use in regards to Greenard's game too, which counters the point on his athleticism and bend around the edge. Greenard is far removed from Zuniga as an athlete of a similar structure at 6-3, 263 lbs., but his results in the three-cone drill (7.13 seconds, 67th percentile among defensive ends) and 20-yard shuttle (4.34-seconds, 71st percentile) are good indicators of burst and bending ability off of the edge.
As noted earlier, Greenard also posted four sacks in seven SEC games at Florida, and lead the conference with 10 sacks and 16 tackles for loss while posting 47 quarterback pressures by PFF's count.
Greenard also only saw seven snaps against LSU, one of his seven SEC games, for what it's worth. His presence could have changed things drastically against Heisman-winning quarterback Joe Burrow and the Tigers' high-powered passing offense.
RB Lamical Perine: New York Jets - fourth round, 120th overall
"Perine isn’t elusive, carries average speed and lacks any explosion in his game. The 0.17 broken tackles per attempt of his over the last three years is an incredible concern." - PFF
Explosion is definitely evident on tape with Perine at the line of scrimmage, as he's a true one-cut-and-go type of running back as he allows blocks to develop. Otherwise, the assessment of his athleticism is fair.
The concern regarding Perine's ability to break tackles doesn't have to strictly focus on elusiveness, though. He showed plenty of times that he can break tackles with power. PFF expressed a different train of thought regarding Perine's ability to break tackles following his junior season in 2018...
PFF also doesn't address Perine's ability in the passing game, though, and that eas a major factor in his selection early on day three. Perine ranked third on the team with 40 receptions, which is pretty crazy when you consider the success multiple receivers found in 2019.
WR Freddie Swain: Seattle Seahawks - sixth round, 214th overall
"From a measurables standpoint, Swain is intriguing. He has maxed out at fewer than 400 snaps in a season, though. Swain is coming off a career year in 2019 where he put up 517 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. One thing you won’t have to worry about with him is drops. Swain has dropped just three passes in 115 targets over his career at Florida." - PFF
PFF views Swain's selection by Seattle in a positive light, only knocking him for his snap count. As with Jefferson, this is just what Florida does with its receivers and can also be seen in the secondary, linebacker corps, and defensive line.
Across Swain's final season at Florida, where he played 354 total snaps and 238 passing snaps, he posted career highs in every receiving category with 38 receptions, 517 yards, and seven touchdowns. Swain's 2.17 yards per-pass-snap come above Jefferson's 1.82 yards per-pass-snap (657 yards on 361 pass snaps), a testament to his efficiency when he's on the field.
WR Tyrie Cleveland: Denver Broncos - seventh round, 252nd overall
"Cleveland showed he has the requisite speed and explosiveness to get down the field at the NFL Combine. The production at Florida doesn’t really excite you, though, with a single-season career high of 410 receiving yards and as many drops (10) as broken tackles (10) in his career." - PFF
It's hard to be picky about the fourth-to-last pick of the draft, but PFF notes Cleveland's lack of development as a receiver over his four years at Florida. His career-high of 410 yards came as a sophomore.
As a seventh-round flier at wide receiver, however, you can't ask for much better of an athlete than Cleveland. Standing at 6-2, 209 lbs., Cleveland's results and percentiles are as follows:
- 40-yard dash: 4.46 seconds, 71st percentile among NFL wide receivers
- Vertical jump: 39.5 inches, 90th percentile
- Broad jump: 126 inches, 83rd percentile