Money In Miami: Who Can Improve Their Draft Stock The Most In The Orange Bowl?
Obviously, it is a risk-reward situation.
Now more than ever, you see guys sit out of their team's bowl game in order to guarantee health for the NFL Draft in April. And it makes perfect sense, sometimes.
Look at Nick Bosa last season. Not only did he sit out the bowl game, he sat out the back half of Ohio State's season. But he was a sure-fire top pick. You knew that he was not going to fall outside of the top two or three picks.
But what about everyone else? What about the guys who are kind of a draft wild card? Should they play and try to ball out and improve their draft stock? Or should they sit where they are and not risk injury and let teams draft them wherever they may.
That is a conversation for a different article, but as far as the Florida Gators are concerned, only one player, cornerback C.J. Henderson, elected to not suit up and play when Florida travels to Miami to play in the Orange Bowl.
So, minus Henderson, who can make the most money on Dec. 30th? There are so many unknowns as far as draft positions on this team, and so much potential to slide up the boards with an excellent performance. Lets name a few specifically:
The senior defensive end's final season has been riddled with an ankle injury. This was supposed to be his defensive line this year. With names like Jachai Polite and Cece Jefferson gone, 2019 was his chance to thrive and show off his bullish penetration and quick feet and take over the SEC.
However, one ankle injury against Kentucky pretty much screwed him for the rest of the season. He figured out a way to suit up against LSU and Georgia but clearly wasn't right.
Now, with extra time to truly heal, he should be healthy for the bowl game and more importantly, he needs to put more tape out. Zuniga might be the biggest wildcard on Florida's roster for the draft. I could honestly see a team needing defensive line help in the second or third round, or his injury could cause him to fall.
However, what could a two-sack performance against Virginia? What about a game where he is all over the field with close to double-digit tackles and maybe forces a turnover? To me, because of the injury and lack of tape from this season, he has the biggest window of opportunity.
To quote my partner-in-content Zach Goodall: "This is Greenard's first-round game."
I completely agree.
Jon Greenard had an absurdly good year at BUCK defensive end. He will go down as one of the best transfers in Florida football history, given his nine sacks and 15 tackles for loss. And this game is a chance for him to get into the first 32 picks in April.
Due to his injury against LSU, and underwhelming performance against Georgia, this is his biggest stage to perform and impress scouts since Week 0 against Miami.
He made a ton of money that night in August, no doubt, and he can make more in Miami on Dec. 30.
Virginia ranks 30th in rush defense in the country. That is 30th in a putrid ACC. As rough as the running game has looked this season, this can be a game for Lamical Perine to get decent yardage on the ground. He can also continue to show his catching ability out of the backfield. That alone has made him some money this season.
What Perine can show off more than anything is his explosion. If he can get in open space a few times and make a few people miss, the scouts should take notice. Perine is a good runner in the open field he just hasn't gotten to get in the open field a whole lot this year due to the inexperience on the offensive line.
This game could change that fortune.
All of the wide receivers could cash in in Miami as well. But to me, these three stood out above the rest. The window to what they appear right now and to what they could be is the biggest gap throughout all of the players leaving the Gators this season.