Free agency and pro days have just about completely wrapped up, leaving the upcoming NFL Draft as the last major remaining football event of the 2021 offseason.
Now that the dust has settled in free agency, and that the Florida Gators have completed their pro day event with 19 prospects in attendance, it's time for another Gators-centric mock draft, our second of the offseason at AllGators (check out our first here). Unlike our first, however, this one is a seven-round projection instead of two.
With that being said, at this time, I expect eight former Gators to be selected in this year's draft. That would be tied for third-most in UF history, as 10 were selected in 1978 and nine were picked in three separate years (1992, 2007, 2010). Such a class would mark Florida's largest group of prospects selected since 2017.
So, who is going where in our latest mock? Find out below with explanations for each pick!
No trades were exercised in this projection. This mock was created with the help of The Draft Network's mock draft simulator.
1st round, 4th pick: TE Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons
The biggest threat to Kyle Pitts slipping out of the top four, in my opinion, is if a quarterback ends up being that pick. I'm not totally sure Atlanta will select an heir for 35-year-old Matt Ryan at this point so a QB would probably be taken via trade here, but a team should have to blow the Falcons away in negotiations if so.
Because, imagine an offense featuring Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Kyle Pitts. That could become one of the most threatening passing offenses in the league - one that would most likely elevate and extend Ryan's career close to his 40s.
If you're a frequent reader of this site, you know how both myself and the AllGators staff feel about Pitts as a draft prospect (if not, click here, here, and here). He's the ultimate mismatch weapon given his rare combination of size, speed, and all-around athleticism. He's sure-handed and boasts an incredible catch radius. He's an extremely nimble route runner, particularly for the position. And, he has upside potential as a blocker after displaying growth in that department from 2019 to 2020, paired with room to add muscle and his young age of 20 years old.
The Falcons could go into full rebuild mode and move on from Ryan and Jones next offseason, creating offensive needs to build around a young quarterback while retooling their entire defense. Or, they can put together a dangerous offense immediately while focusing on defense for the remainder of the draft, and put together a much-improved season this year. I like option No. 2, and that one includes Pitts.
1st round, 27th pick: WR Kadarius Toney, Baltimore Ravens
I've liked this fit dating back to last season. Baltimore is in desperate need of help at receiver, and other than signing oft-injured veteran Sammy Watkins to a one-year deal, the Ravens failed to fill that need in free agency.
Kadarius Toney would provide quarterback Lamar Jackson with an immediate option in the slot, and the potential for a whole lot more. Toney could fill in as a punt returner to complement kick returner Devin Duvernay, emerge as a weapon for screens and quick-hitting RPO routes, and is capable of flexing into the backfield for jet-sweeps, reverses, and pure carries which would further diversify the Ravens' already-dynamic rushing attack.
The Ravens could benefit from double-dipping at wide receiver in this draft, going all in to help Jackson. Toney would be a great start - pair him with a legitimate boundary threat and the Ravens' passing game could look a lot different next year. For the better.
3rd round, 78th pick: QB Kyle Trask, Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings extended starting quarterback Kirk Cousins last offseason but can get out of his deal in 2022. Cousins went on to post a career-high 35 touchdowns, but Minnesota won only seven games in the process. He's a productive quarterback but has yet to lead his team beyond the Divisional Round of the playoffs in his six seasons as a starter.
Minnesota could look to find a capable backup to Cousins in this draft that could apply pressure on the 32-year-old, and Trask fits that description perfectly. He's been there, done that when it comes to the backup quarterback role, filling it perfectly and setting UF passing records when his time came.
In an offense that features running back Dalvin Cook, wide receivers Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, and a promising tight end in Irv Smith Jr., Trask could thrive after some time catching up to the speed of the NFL behind Cousins. Should Cousins take a step back in 2021, he could eventually take his spot as the Vikings' starter.
4th round, 126th pick: OT Stone Forsythe, Tennessee Titans
Stone Forsythe helped himself quite a bit at UF's pro day, as he was one of Florida's more underrated draft prospects this year. At a whopping 6-foot-8, 307 pounds, Forsythe posted an impressive 5.14 40 yard dash and good results in agility drills.
The Titans signed Kendall Lamm in free agency and he is expected to start at right tackle this season, although he has started more than four games in a season just once in his career and has never been more than an average player. Forsythe could provide Lamm with competition at right tackle or develop into a swing tackle/future heir for Taylor Lewan on the left side. He could step in and offer pass protection skills early in his career but has work to do developing as a run blocker.
Tennessee would be wise to invest more into their offensive line this offseason to continue producing one of the NFL's best rushing games with Derrick Henry in the fold.
5th round, 145th pick: CB Marco Wilson, Jacksonville Jaguars
The star of Florida's pro day not named Kyle Pitts, Marco Wilson made himself some money last Wednesday and is sure to have climbed up draft boards after a spectacular performance following a disappointing 2020 season.
Wilson posted some of the best athletic test results ever for a cornerback prospect, simply put. His 4.37 40 yard dash paired with a 43.5-inch vertical jump were eye-popping, and should lead to his selection in the upcoming draft by a team looking to groom his athleticism into dependable, consistent cornerback play. Of course, Wilson emerged as a starter as a true freshman in 2017 for Florida and performed admirably, but has regressed since while also dealing with a major knee injury in 2018.
Jacksonville would make a lot of sense as the team is reshuffling its secondary and led by new head coach (former UF head coach and mentor to Florida's Dan Mullen) Urban Meyer. With experience outside and at nickel cornerback, Wilson is certainly an intriguing mid-round prospect for a team looking for a defensive back with loads of potential.
5th round, 163rd pick: DL T.J. Slaton, Washington Football Team
Another pro day winner: T.J. Slaton has always been an impressive athlete for his size and he proved it last week with the majority of his athletic testing results coming in above average for his position - although he stands at 6-foot-4, 330 pounds, while weighing 24 more pounds than the average defensive tackle.
Slaton never became a consistent game-wrecker in a Gators uniform, but he flashed plenty of skills as a big pass rusher and capable double-team eater against the run at times. His size limits his snap count and that should continue at the next level.
The rich get richer in this scenario, as Slaton joins one of the most dominant defensive fronts in the NFL in Washington. It's hard to imagine he'll carve out a starting role very early in his career given the talent on WFT's defensive line, including the likes of Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, and Matt Ioannidis on the interior along with Chase Young and Montez Sweat on the edge, among other talented players. But Slaton could certainly be utilized in sub-packages and make a name for himself that way, which would be ideal.
6th round, 185th pick: WR Trevon Grimes, Los Angeles Chargers
I overhyped Trevon Grimes' pro day going in, I thought his results in the 40-yard-dash and jumps could push him up the draft board. However, his 40 time came in about a tenth of a second below his projected, unofficial times at 4.49 - still a good time for his 6-foot-4 size - while the remainder of his results were around average at best among receivers.
Although Grimes specialized in contested catches and speed down the sidelines in college, one has to wonder how much of his game will translate to the NFL without the testing numbers that were expected. In such a deep receiver class, this could cause Grimes to fall a bit into day three. However, I love his fit with the Chargers should Los Angeles end up being the spot he falls to.
Justin Herbert looked like an MVP-caliber quarterback at times as a rookie. The Chargers can help ascend him to that level by adding more weapons to their offense, and Grimes would mesh well with Herbert's powerful arm and provide Los Angeles with exactly that: A (deep threat) weapon.
7th round, 251st pick: S Shawn Davis, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Davis made a name for himself in 2019 by making several acrobatic plays on the ball, creating turnovers, and emerging as a dependable coverage defender despite being a bit undersized. He took a bit of a step back in 2020 and dealt with injuries near the end of the season, as well as an apparent injured hamstring during his 40-yard-dash on pro day.
Considering the rough past year for Davis compared to his flashy 2019 season, he'll probably fall a good bit in the draft. He's a great option for a team looking for a depth player with ball skills, though.
The Buccaneers lost backup safety Andrew Adams in free agency to the Philadelphia Eagles, vacating 438 total snaps (68 on defense, 370 on special teams). Davis could fill Adams' special teams role and provide depth in the secondary, with upside as a ball-hawking type of defensive back.