As the drafted concluded on Saturday, many of the Gators' NFL hopefuls had found their homes throughout the course of the weekend. However, for some, the wait took just a bit longer.
Over the first seven rounds of the draft, seven players from Florida's football roster (the most since 2017), were selected, including cornerback C.J. Henderson, wide receiver Van Jefferson, defensive end Jabari Zuniga, defensive end/outside linebacker Jonathan Greenard, running back Lamical Perine, and wide receivers Freddie Swain, and Tyrie Cleveland.
Earning a spot among the only 255 is difficult. While not having your name called can be demoralizing, however, the post-draft process helps bring a smile to a prospect's face and that's exactly what it did for four former Gators in punter Tommy Townsend (Kansas City Chiefs), defensive tackle Adam Shuler (Arizona Cardinals), linebacker David Reese II (Carolina Panthers), and, receiver Josh Hammond (Jacksonville Jaguars).
For future NFL players, making the right decision about a team is important, if you can make it. For example, this year, if you're a quarterback you may not want to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles right away as they already have a cemented starting quarterback in Carson Wentz, and drafted former Oklahoma/Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts in the second round.
For these Gators, they've positioned themselves - most likely with the help of their agent - in finding places that will give them a clear advantage heading into fall.
Let's take a look:
Tommy Townsend, Kansas City Chiefs:
Following the draft, Townsend landed in perhaps one of the more ideal landing spots a punter can ask for. Typically, a punter does go undrafted but could be in for an intense battle with a grizzled veteran with very little true shot of making the team - a "camp leg".
For the former Gators' punter, however, the Chiefs recently released their long-time veteran, Dustin Colquitt, while signing only one other punter earlier in the offseason in former Los Angeles Chargers punter Tyler Newsome. Newsome was fully expected to compete for the position heading into camp.
Townsend will have a leg-up on his competition, signing a contract that is filled with $82,500 in guarantees along with a $7,500 signing bonus. An ideal of a spot as ever, Townsend looks to "perform at a high level" to break the Chiefs' 53-man roster.
Adam Shuler, Arizona Cardinals:
As a graduate transfer from West Virginia University to the Gators in 2018, Shuler made the most of his playing time, gaining the starting role and accounting for five sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss, and 68 tackles during his two years with at Florida.
Shuler is entering a spot with the Cardinals where he will have a great opportunity. In 2019, the Cardinals struggle mightly along the defensive line, losing defensive end/tackle Rodney Gunter in free agency this year to boot.
While the team did do well in addressing the position, the competition is far from over. Signing defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, along with drafting nose tackle Leki Fotu, Shuler appears to be heading into a battle.
However, the depth - which includes former Gators defensive tackle Jonathan Bullard - along the line still has issues. Look for Shuler to continue his upward trajectory in Arizona later this offseason.
David Reese II, Carolina Panthers:
Reese had been the Gators' leader on defense for the past few seasons racking up a staggering 324 tackles (202 solos), 19.5 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks over four years (three starting) at Florida. Reese became only the third linebacker in Gators history to rack up 100+ tackles in a single season (his sophomore year).
Moving to Carolina, Reese projects to make an impact on the roster early. The Panthers lost a long-time veteran and future Hall of Fame linebacker Luke Kuechly to retirement and made just one linebacker signing in his place in former Oakland Raiders linebacker Tahir Whitehead.
Without drafting a single linebacker, Reese enters a very favorable position to make an impact on special teams and as depth along the Panthers' linebacker corp.
Josh Hammond, Jacksonville Jaguars:
Hammond was not a forgotten receiver from the Gators steller receiving corp this year, but he may have been overlooked throughout this year's draft process. After not receiving an invite to the NFL Combine, Hammond displayed his athleticism at his own private pro day, illustrating the quickness that showed on tape, and the speed he was not able to really demonstrate while at Florida.
Hammond is entering a situation in Jacksonville that has been in desperate need of receivers to step up. While the team did draft two in receivers Laviska Shenault and Collin Johnson, there is still room for Hammond to push for a spot during training camp or at the very least beat someone out for a practice squad position.
The Jaguars, entering a sort of rebuilding period, need high-character players and great locker room assets, and Hammond is just the man for the job as the former Gators locker room leader among the receivers.