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Looking Into Gators QB Richardson, DL Dexter, OL Torrence's NFL Draft Stock

Florida's top three draft prospects, each underclassmen, are QB Anthony Richardson, DL Gervon Dexter and OL O'Cyrus Torrence. How much NFL intrigue have they garnered this season?

Photos: Gervon Dexter, Anthony Richardson and O'Cyrus Torrence; Credit: Alex Shepherd

Florida's relatively young roster isn't packed with potential 2023 NFL Draft prospects, but three who stand out are third-year sophomore quarterback Anthony Richardson, fourth-year junior right guard O'Cyrus Torrence and third-year sophomore Gervon Dexter.

As the end of Billy Napier's first season in charge of the Gators approaches, their futures with the team have naturally become a talking point.

Richardson was labeled as a potential first-round pick during the offseason, and while his stock cooled with an inconsistent start to the campaign, his marked improvement over Florida's last four games already has his teammates pleading for the quarterback to return in 2023.

Since UF's matchup with LSU in Week 7, Richardson has completed 61-of-113 passes (54 percent), averaged 192.5 passing yards per game and tossed six touchdowns. He's been dynamic on the ground, too, compiling 302 yards and four scores on the ground since posting a season-high 109 rushing yards against the Tigers.

Richardson has avoided turnovers completely in that stretch after throwing seven interceptions and losing two fumbles over the first six weeks of the season.

While his numbers are trending in the right direction, they're still far from what is expected of first-round signal-callers. That being said, his approximately 80-yard throw at the Manning Passing Academy over the summer, his reported 4.4-second 40-yard dash (which would be the second-fastest result by a quarterback in NFL Combine history) and passes like the one below have kept NFL personnel intrigued.

All of these factors prompted the question: Did last Saturday present Richardson's final game in The Swamp? 

“I haven’t really thought about it," Richardson said about his future after the Gators beat the Gamecocks. "After the Georgia loss we were just trying to get the team rolling again, trying to get back on track so I haven’t really thought about that, so, win every game now and go to the bowl game.” 

One thing is certain: Richardson aspires to play in Florida's upcoming, to-be-determined bowl game.

“Yeah definitely," Richardson responded to that exact question. "I’m working you know, just trying to get better game by game and that’s it.” 

Dexter is handling his draft buzz similarly. A former consensus five-star prospect with ideal size (6-foot-6, 312 pounds), strength (425-pound bench, 655-pound squat) and athleticism (a 4.88-second 40-yard dash posted in high school), Dexter is built like the prototype versatile lineman that dominates the pros in the modern era. He, too, has garnered first-round hype dating back to the offseason.

Florida DL Gervon Dexter

Florida DL Gervon Dexter

He hasn't reached the levels of production many expected for a prospect of his caliber, but that reality wouldn't necessarily prevent NFL teams from coveting his talent. 

Dexter has played the 19th-most snaps among defensive linemen in the FBS this year with 528, in part out of necessity due to Florida's inexperienced depth up front, and would likely rank in the top ten if South Carolina's turnover-prone offense didn't cut his snaps to a single-game season-low of 30 on Saturday.

And while his box score stats aren't incredible — 42 tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss, an interception and two passes defended — he's certainly making a strong impact. Dexter has produced 22 run stops and 20 quarterback pressures, tied for 19th and 45th most in the FBS among the 631 and 680 defensive linemen who have posted a stat in those respective categories, according to Pro Football Focus.

For better context, only 3.01 percent of the nation's defensive linemen have produced more run stops, and 6.62 percent of the nation's defensive linemen have created more quarterback pressure. Only nine linemen with more snaps logged than Dexter have produced either more run stops or quarterback pressures in 2022.

There is plenty of reason for NFL teams to be intrigued by Dexter's potential. Like Richardson, though, Dexter isn't publicly paying his future much mind right now.

"I haven't. I was focused on South Carolina last week," Dexter said on Monday, "and this week I'm locked in on beating Vandy."

Torrence possesses the most sound case to be drafted highly of these three players — his play speaks for itself. He's yet to allow a sack across his 44 career starts (nine at Florida, 35 at Louisiana) and is the highest-graded, qualifying run-blocking guard in the country this season, per PFF.

He was also a last-minute addition to Florida's Senior Day ceremonies, a suggestion that his future with the team beyond 2022 isn't solidified.

"It was pretty special. Before Senior Night, I was even sure if I was going to do it. But I talk to the coaches and they know I'm graduating in the classroom, so we went off that," Torrence shared on Saturday. "I talked with them and they said I did enough for them, so it was a special moment to be able to walk and talk with Coach Napier at the middle of the field and then take a picture with my family. It was fun, special time."

It is the standard operating procedure for players to avoid discussing their football futures with the media before the conclusion of the season, typically in order to prevent distractions in the locker room. 

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At this point, all we have to definitively analyze is the intrigue NFL teams have displayed in Florida's roster. Not to mention, the 2023 NFL Draft is over five months away and teams are far from finalizing their prospect boards. 

However, through 11 weeks of the 2022 campaign, it has become increasingly clear which pro squads have taken an interest in Florida's talent.

Every team in the NFL, except for the Cincinnati Bengals, has sent one or more scouts to at least one game Florida has been featured in this season. Considering that every pro squad does more than its due diligence on draft prospects, we can assume that three or more visits indicate a team has a strong interest in at least one Florida player. and eight teams have been to at least four games. 

Half of the league meets that mark, and eight teams have been to at least four games. 

Let's look at this from the Richardson angle first.

Of those 16, six could be described as potentially "quarterback-needy" for various reasons this upcoming offseason: Tampa Bay (four visits), Washington (four), Indianapolis (four), Detroit (four), New York Giants (three) and Houston (three).

Whether it's due to Tom Brady's imminent retirement, another failed Carson Wentz experiment, or the presence of a new head coach in the building, each of these six teams are doing their research on this cycle's passers.

Florida QB Anthony Richardson

Florida QB Anthony Richardson

Las Vegas (two) falls outside of the threshold, however, general manager Dave Ziegler personally attended Florida's matchup with Tennessee along with two Raiders scouts, observing Richardson and Volunteers quarterback Hendon Hooker up close. Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels were hired earlier this year and could certainly be interested in identifying a quarterback of the future to follow Derek Carr

Carr has been Las Vegas' starting quarterback for nine seasons, and in addition to the Raiders' offense struggling in 2022, he's only led Las Vegas to the playoffs twice. Carr played in one of the team's two postseason losses in that span, the 26-19 defeat against Cincinnati earlier this year. 

Interestingly, Minnesota has watched UF more than any team in the league besides Miami, as the Vikings have attended six games while the Dolphins have attended seven. With similar logic to Las Vegas, although Kirk Cousins has found more success than Carr this season, Vikings first-year coach Kevin O'Connell could also have the long-term future of his quarterback position in mind. 

Cousins, who will turn 35 years old next August, has a void year in his contract in 2024.

As for Dexter, even teams with deep trenches look for defensive line talent yearly, which would make his projection much tougher to narrow down if he were to declare for the draft.

However, Miami, Minnesota, Baltimore (five visits), Jacksonville (four), San Francisco (three) and the Los Angeles Chargers (three) stand out as teams that could benefit from selecting a defensive lineman early in the upcoming draft. None of these squads are considered "quarterback-needy" and are among the most frequent UF observers this year. 

Guard is an even tougher position to predict over five months before an NFL Draft than defensive tackle considering how few are selected in the first round and in total compared to defensive linemen. 

Still, having yet to give up a sack in his four-year career and proving to be an elite run blocker, Torrence is viewed as a potential first-rounder for what he's put on tape.

Florida OL O'Cyrus Torrence

Florida OL O'Cyrus Torrence

Miami would be a perfect fit, although the Dolphins are without a first-round pick this year due to violating league tampering policies. He'd play comfortably at the guard spot opposite Robert Hunt with the Dolphins, who was Torrence's former teammate and Napier's former player at Louisana.

Indianapolis, Jacksonville, San Francisco, Seattle (three), Philadelphia (three) and the Chargers are several of the many sensible fits for Torrence among the teams that meet the three-visit threshold.

The deadline to declare for the upcoming NFL Draft is January 16, 2023. 

Florida has already experienced roster attrition with seven players announcing their intentions to enter the transfer portal after the 2022 season (you can find the list in this story) and another, Brenton Cox Jr., being dismissed from the team. Further transfers are anticipated as Napier continues to rebuild UF's roster from the ground up. 

The draft presents another roster reconstruction hurdle to jump. Come January, players like Richardson, Dexter and Torrence will need to decide if Napier's development plan has prepared them for the pros or if another season in the system would be beneficial.

Following the conclusion of the 2022 season, All Gators will publish the full list of Florida games attended by NFL personnel throughout the year in a separate story.

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