2013 NFL Draft: Sugar Bowl Preview – Florida vs. Louisville

Mike GillisleeIn a BCS game, things aren't usually expected to be so one-sided. But in the SEC vs. Big East (eventually ACC) match-up, most experts believe Florida and their speed and elite talent on both sides of the ball will control and destroy Louisville.

Prospect-wise, for the 2013 NFL Draft, Florida has a serious advantage on both sides of the ball. However, the game should be closer than expected thanks to the play of sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville, and the coaching of former Florida defensive coordinator, Charlie Strong.


Notes by Eric Galko and Alex Brown of Optimum Scouting

Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida – #23, 5’11, 209
Displaying plus balance, toughness, and leg drive to run through arm tacklers and pick up yardage after first contact, Gillislee is setting himself apart with his productivity between the tackles. Reading his blockers exceptionally well and having the feet to jump cut across multiple gaps or plant and drive on cutback lanes, Gillislee exhibits the vision and instincts to burn opposing defenders that overpursue in run flow. Moreover, Gillislee is deceptively strong through first contact, doing an outstanding job of keeping his feet in traffic and pounding the dirt to drive the pile. Additionally able to string sharp, sudden cuts in succession without loss off speed, Gillislee consistently hits the 2nd level at top speed. Rarely missing a cutback or bounce opportunity, he exhibits outstanding vision, instincts, and feel for the position –a skill too often over-looked at a position dominated by all-speed or all-power backs. Having a well-rounded, balanced game with the ability to run inside or outside, Gillislee is a fast rising prospect that could hear his name called as early as the second day of the draft.

(JR) Jordan Reed, TE, Florida – #11, 6’3, 243
Having the athletic ability, natural length, and dynamic ability to make things happen after the catch, Florida’s Jordan Reed has a chance to be the second or third rated tight end prospect in this draft class. Able to play the Joker-Y position as well as anybody in the country, Reed attacks leverage well in his route, understands body positioning and can win at the catch point while taking a hit over the middle. NFL teams understand that while Reed doesn’t offer much as a blocker, his unique talent as a receiver could pay huge dividends early in an off the line, slot position.

Omarius Hines, H-Back/WR, Florida – #20, 6’2, 217
Someone completely under the radar for us at Optimum Scouting, wide receiver/tight end/running back Omarius Hines looks more and more like a potential mid-to-late round draft pick with the skill set to be a dynamic third or fourth receiving threat for NFL offenses. Recruited to replace Aaron Hernandez in head coach Urban Meyer’s spread system, Hines was left without a defined position in the coaching regimes that followed, causing his production to be below average. Hines is a niche player that needs a well thought out and designed offensive role, but nevertheless possesses the skill set to be a matchup nightmare out of the backfield, in the slot or out wide.

(JR) Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida – #73, 6’3, 303
Well built and powerful throughout his frame, Shariff Floyd possesses the broad shoulders, barrel chest, and thick bubble to anchor inside on a 4-man front or outside in a 3-man front. Light on his feet and heavy with his hands, Floyd shoots and penetrates gaps surprisingly well, ripping across face, skinnying his shoulders through gaps, and breaking down into a tackling position. So very sudden with his hands off the line, Shariff Floyd is quick to shed blocks and beat the back to the spot. Having an impressive get-off and great bend for a defensive lineman of his size and bulk, Floyd would certainly be among the top rated 5-techniques and a first round pick should he declare himself eligible for the 2013 draft.

Omar Hunter, DT, Florida – #99, 6’0, 314
Heavily recruited across the nation as a five-star nose tackle, Omar Hunter developed into a consistent, albeit not outstanding player. Controlling and powerful at the point of attack thanks to a short, heavyset frame, Hunter understands gap control defense and plays his responsibility with consistent hand placement. Hunter’s impact is mainly felt versus the run, as he lacks a plus first step or pass rushing repertoire to defeat pass sets. A solid run stuffer that could play right away as a zero-technique in a 3-4 defense, Hunter is a good bet to be drafted in the 6th or 7th round range.

Lerentee McCray, DE, Florida – #34, 6’3, 249
Often overlooked on a defense chock-full of NFL Draft talent that includes players like Matt Elam, Sharrif Floyd and Jelani Jenkins, Lerentee McCray made the most of playing opportunities as a redshirt senior and caught the eye of NFL scouts. At his best when able to coil into and explode out of a four-point stance, McCray does an impressive job of converting speed to power to knock opposing blockers off balance. Equally sudden with his hands and fluid enough to dip his pad level, McCray also understands proper speed rush technique in order to run the arc with his natural speed. In terms of physical tools, McCray compensates for his decent height (6’2") with long arms, a plus first step, a high-end motor and explosive closing speed. The major knock on McCray will be his lack of productivity, as injuries derailed the beginning of his Florida career. The silver lining, however, could be the perseverance shown by McCray to stick through with his commitment to Florida. 

Jon Bostic, ILB, Florida – #1, 6’1, 246
Bostic serves as a consistent producer and on-field leader of this Florida defense, putting the team in correct presnap alignment, following the football and lighting up the stat sheet with tackles. Very active and instinctive, Bostic trusts his run/pass reads and flies to the football with abandon. Bostic grades out with plus marks regarding his scraping and run fitting technique, as he stays low and centered in an athletic stance, keeping his shoulders squared to the line of scrimmage and shocking potential blockers with violent, heavy hands. A late third or high 4th round selection isn’t out of the question with Bostic, but a day three choice seems to be the landing place for this senior linebacker.

(JR) Matt Elam, S, Florida – #22, 5’10, 210
Making plays all over the field with his plus closing speed and instincts, Matt Elam looks a lot like former Texas safety and current Seattle Seahawks NFL’er Earl Thomas. Running down the alley under control, squaring up the ball carrier and exploding through the ball carrier, Elam is an absolute force in the running game. In two words, Elam is an explosive tackler. Beyond his hitting power though, Elam has his fair share of struggles in man coverage, lacking the proper drive angles and closing confidence to prevent short-to-intermediate pass completions. Elam’s lack of height and plus coverage skills may knock him down a round or two, but his overall impact and aggression as a “robber safety” in a cover one scheme, certainly warrants a 3rd or 4th round grading. 

Mario Benavides, OC, Louisville – #66, 6’4, 300
While Benavides will need to overcome serious injury concerns, he'll also need to prove his athletic and powerful enough to hold his own on the inside. He keeps his focus well in pass protection with vision and pre-snap anticipation, and he locks his arms in extension well with good, not elite, hand strength. He really needs to stay quickler and lower off the snap in pass protection as well. He does pivot and redirect well as a run blocker. Without elite hand strength, athleticism, and injury concerns, Benavides really needs to maximize his abilities if he hopes to be a set draft pick come April.

Hakeem Smith, S, Louisville – #29, 6’1, 185 (JR)
The aggressive, rangy Smith is a possible early declaree, which may not be the best option for Smith. He's quick to the ball, aggressive in pursuit, and flashes the athletic upside to be molded to a variety of defenses, he'll need to continue to be stronger, show more ability in man pickup, react smoother in zone coverages as well. Still, most of his major concerns seem correctable, and with his upside, he could be an intriguing junior to watch moving forward.

Adrian Bushell, CB, Louisville – #21, 6’0, 190
Bushell was a guy I was turned onto late, but he’s shown versatility as a cornerback to be a returner, outside and slot cornerback, and has the hips and extension away from his body to be an asset in the NFL. He did well to cover bigger and longer receivers much of the season, and had responsibility to cover the team’s best receiver for most games/situations. Not an elite talent, he’s shown enough that, if he impresses in the All-Star Game, he may be valued highly to develop come draft day.

Others to Watch
(JR) Trey Burton, H-Back, Florida – #8, 6’3, 228
Frankie Hammond Jr., WR, Florida – #85, 6’0, 187
(JR) Andre Debose, WR, Florida – #4, 5’11, 189
(JR) Jon Halapio, OG, Florida – #67, 6’3, 321
(JR) Jonotthan Harrison, OC, Florida – #72, 6’4, 299
(JR) Dominique Easley, DT, Florida – #2, 6’2, 280
Josh Evans, S, Florida – #9, 6’2, 201