VETTEL: 2008 Draft won't be as busy

VETTEL: 2008 Draft won't be as busy

The Florida Gators led all schools in this year's NFL draft with nine selections including a pair of first round selections. On top of that, a slew of members of the 2006 National Champs signed free agent deals within hours of the draft's conclusion Sunday evening.

If you enjoyed watching all that activity you should cherish it, because next year won't look at all like this season as far as the NFL draft goes. Florida will have a much smaller senior class and a much shorter list of players who will/should seriously consider leaving early.

Seniors Few and Far Between

After a year in which the Gators had more seniors than Piccadilly Cafeteria at 5:30, this season will be very different. Florida has roughly a dozen seniors this season, several of whom play minimal roles. So what are the Gators draft chances in '08?

Bubba Caldwell ----- Three years ago there was no chance he would be a fifth year senior, but his injury two years ago coupled with a phenomenal receiver class this year convinced him to stay at UF. It was a good choice that could result in a big reward next year. Bubba has first round potential and day one seems like an absolute lock.

Drew Miller ----- Florida has never had a center drafted in the first round rounds, but Miller has a chance to change that. His versatility in being able to play all over the line is a big plus and if he is outstanding this fall I could see him as a third or fourth round guy. Proficiency with the shotgun snap and handling blockers right on his nose will be the keys.

Tony Joiner ----- The personable veteran safety is not the big play threat that Reggie Nelson is, but he can play, Joiner will have to make more plays to improve his draft status since his 5'11" 217 frame is not going to wow anyone. Still, he should be playing on Sundays eventually.

Phil Trautwein ----- He's a better athlete than most 300-pounders, but he must get stronger and more physical. His ability to play either tackle will be on display this fall and that should help his stock somewhat.

That's about it for the Gator senior class; although it's possible Carlton Medder or Tate Casey could generate interest with a big year.

Early Entry Candidates Few

It won't take long to consider those Gators who might leave early and try to cash in on their football skills. Of all the guys who are eligible only two make any sense at all.

Derrick Harvey ----- Jarvis Moss is more imposing and may have a higher "ceiling", but Harvey was a better player last season. The big time defensive end led the Gators with 13 tackles for loss and eleven quarterback sacks last year. He'll likely play at 260-pounds or more next season, proving his worth as an all-around defensive end. Round one potential is indisputable.

Cornelius Ingram ----- The last few weeks of last season Ingram emerged as a major threat in the Florida passing game. He caught 20 passes for 267 yards in the last five games, and was big time in the two most important games of the season. C.I. had ten catches for 129 against Arkansas and Ohio State in helping the Gators to two huge wins. He is a unique threat as a combo receiver/tight end and that makes him a match up problem at any level. He should be a day one guy.

That's about it. Hard to believe Florida can have such a drop off, but it shows you the weakness of the recruiting class of 2004 and 2005. You go two years without bringing in very much talent it's going to eventually show up. For the Gators, it shows up with an incredibly young roster with few pro prospects for the next two seasons. After that, look out!

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