Florida Gators Pre-NFL Combine Seven Round Mock Draft
The 2020 NFL Combine is set to begin today, where college prospects from across the nation will compete in drills, interview with teams, and perform medical exams prior to the 2020 NFL Draft.
Eight former Florida Gators were invited to the Combine to participate, and though these three stand out, each prospect has a chance to boost their stock prior to April's selection ceremony with a good showing.
But where does each player's value line up right now?
To try to figure that out, I've comprised a seven-round mock draft comprised only of picks including former Gators. Each selection is based on my own evaluation of each player, how they'd fit with each team and its needs, and with consensus NFL Draft analyst draft range for each prospect in the back of my mind.
With that being said, let's get to mocking!
First round, 20th overall: CB C.J. Henderson, Jacksonville Jaguars
For every analyst who views C.J. Henderson as a first round cornerback for his coverage skills, allowing only 52.7% of his 110 targets in coverage to be caught during three seasons at Florida (per Pro Football Focus), there's an analyst who hates Henderson's tackling and drops him out of day one.
The upcoming NFL Combine should lock Henderson's first round status up. Remember, he ran a 4.35 40 yard dash coming out of high school, and that speed translated to his game throughout his college career.
The Jaguars traded star cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Los Angeles Rams during the 2020 season for this pick, and first and fourth round picks in 2021. With a need at cornerback and a good amount of money already invested at the position via free agency in A.J. Bouye, Henderson would make a lot of sense for Jacksonville here.
Third round, 68th overall: DE/OLB Jonathan Greenard, New York Jets
Last year, with this exact pick, the Jets selected a player from Florida who played the same position as Greenard in Jachai Polite.
After a trade with the New York Giants that sent the Jets the 68th pick (and defensive end Leonard Williams back to the Giants) for the second year in a row, the Jets still need the pass rush help they selected Polite to provide. Polite had discipline issues and was released before his rookie regular season even started.
Greenard would fit the Jets' scheme as a 3-4 outside linebacker, primarily rushing the passer and setting the edge against the run. During his time at Florida, Greenard did just that, recording 10 sacks, 16 tackles for loss, 46 quarterback pressures, and a 91.1 run-stopping grade by PFF.
Greenard is an explosive edge rusher on tape, so if he tests well in the 10 yard split, broad jump, and three-come drill, expect him to break into the second round.
Third round, 70th overall: WR Van Jefferson, Miami Dolphins
With a good showing at the Combine, Jefferson could rise even higher than the third round, but for now I felt safe putting him in the top part of the third to a team that is rebuilding its offense.
It's safe to assume that Miami will come out of the first round with a quarterback, given their tremendous need and three first round picks to utilize.
Jefferson is a high-floor wide receiver prospect who would be a candidate to emerge as a possession receiver opposite of Devante Parker with the Dolphins. A smooth route runner, Jefferson could become a dependable target for a young quarterback, such as Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa, Oregon's Justin Herbert, and others.
A connection to keep in mind here: Miami's general manager Chris Grier has been with the Dolphins since 2007 as both the director of college scouting and the GM. Right after his promotion, Grier helped hire Jefferson's father, Shawn, who coached Miami's receivers from 2016-18.
Fourth round, 119th overall: DE Jabari Zuniga, Baltimore Ravens
Zuniga falls far below where many expected him to end up at this time last year after he announced that he would be returning to Florida for his redshirt senior season. But, with a nagging ankle sprain that limited his 2019 season to six games, it's hard not to expect Zuniga to fall at this point.
On tape, Zuniga needed to show in his final season that he could create pressure against higher quality offensive tackles and post higher production. In flashes, he did that, recording 1.5 tackles for loss in 16 snaps against Georgia and recording six pressures against Virginia in the Orange Bowl. But, Zuniga's injuries might dampen those performances in the draft process.
With positive medical results and strong performances in the drills, Zuniga could jump up after the Combine, but for now, I have him falling into day three. The Baltimore Ravens could use some additional pass rush help as they push for a Super Bowl. Zuniga could be their guy.
Fifth round, 150th overall RB Lamical Perine, Philadelphia Eagles
An Eagles scout spent a good amount of time with Perine following the final Senior Bowl practice last month, prior to Perine earning both South team Player of the Week and Game honors.
Perine didn't find the same run game success in 2019 as he did the season before, in large part due to some pretty poor run blocking ahead of him. Though, Perine improved as a receiving back and pass protector and took advantage of Florida transitioning into a pass-heavy offense, posting a career-high 40 receptions in his senior season.
He isn't the same athlete as the top tier running backs in this class, but Perine is arguably one of the top do-it-all RBs in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Eagles like that in their running backs, and Perine would fit well in a committee with Miles Sanders and Boston Scott, as Jordan Howard is expected to walk in free agency.
As the position is becoming devalued in the NFL these days, I don't expect Perine to be drafted very highly (unless he breaks into the 4.4s or higher in the 40 yard dash). However, considering the value of RBs, I do expect Perine to become the focal point of future arguments pointing towards successful running backs that can be found later in the draft.
Seventh round, 219th overall: WR Tyrie Cleveland, Green Bay Packers
In such a deep - historically deep, even - wide receiver class, I went back and forth on whether or not to include Cleveland in this mock. While it is a pre-Combine mock, I'm going to use it as a place to make the prediction that Cleveland will post a 40 yard dash in the high 4.4-range, as he posted a 4.38 in The Opening Finals in Dallas as a high school senior at 6-2, 180 lbs.
Now at 205 lbs., Cleveland very well could have added to that time, but high 4.4s would still be a positive result for a near-6-3 wide receiver - a result that should end in him being drafted.
The Green Bay Packers could use another deep threat in their offense to pair with Allen Lazard, a former undrafted free agent who the Packers poached from the Jaguars practice squad. Cleveland would make a lot of sense in Green Bay, and could offer additional special teams contributions.