UF

Former Florida Gators Roberson, Purifoy go undrafted; Watkins picked by Eagles

 

Miami Herald Writer

A year ago, Florida cornerbacks Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy were touted as potential first-round NFL Draft prospects, but even after 35 cornerbacks heard their name called over the three-day event, Roberson and Purifoy did not.

Plagued by injuries, off-the-field issues and inconsistent junior campaigns, Florida’s two mercurial underclassmen went unselected on the final day of the 2014 NFL Draft.

Saturday’s freefall, inconceivable before UF’s abysmal 2013 season, was particularly shocking for Roberson, who projected as a second- or third-rounder by multiple analysts up until Thursday’s first round.

Roberson struggled during the evaluation process (clocking a poor 4.61 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine), but the 6-1, 190-pound cornerback flashed on tape as a fluid-cover guy with natural ability, but the former Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas standout couldn’t find a home as a late-round gem.

Purifoy, once touted as a workout wonder, also bombed the pre-draft process, costing himself money with considerable character concerns with several run-ins with the law. The two defensive backs became the second and third former Florida players since 2011 (Will Hill) to go undrafted as early entree underclassmen.

But Saturday wasn’t a total disaster for several other former Gators.

Jaylen Watkins, Florida’s senior cornerback who ascended during the evaluation process as much as Roberson and Purifoy flopped, was selected No. 101 — the first overall pick of the fourth round — by the Philadelphia Eagles.

A versatile defensive back capable of playing three positions, Watkins ran 4.41 seconds 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and shined during the Senior Bowl workouts.

“When we started this process a year ago, we were talking about Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy, and Jaylen Watkins, not surprisingly because after you study the tape this year and looked at some of the 40 times, not surprising he’s the first of these Florida corners to come off the board,” ESPN analyst Todd McShay said during draft’s telecast.

In all, three former Gators were selected in rounds four through six, as Florida totaled four draftees over the event’s three days — half as many as last season.

The New Orleans Saints nabbed junior linebacker Ronald Powell, the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit in 2010, in the fifth round with the 169th overall pick. Senior guard Jon Halapio, who played the entire 2013 season with a torn pectoral, went to the New England Patriots 10 picks later in the sixth round (No. 179), joining former teammate and the Pats’ first-round pick defensive tackle Dominique Easley (No. 29 overall).

Following the draft’s conclusion, multiple former Gators signed free agent contracts, according to their Twitter accounts. Defensive tackle Damien Jacobs signed a deal with the Buffalo Bills, and Trey Burton, a possible H-back in the NFL, signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. Speedy wide receiver Solomon Patton, signed a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to multiple reports.

Read more UF stories from the Miami Herald

  • UF notebook

    Florida Gators face tough decision on whether to run QB Jeff Driskel

    It’s a hot debate in Florida staff meetings: to run or not to run quarterback Jeff Driskel.

  •  
Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel passes under pressure from Miami's David Gilbert in the fourth quarter at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013.

    UF PREVIEW

    Florida Gators’ chance to rebound rests with QB Jeff Driskel

    Aside from embattled head coach Will Muschamp, Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel remains the most polarizing figure in Gainesville.

  • SEC PREVIEW

    A preview of SEC football teams

    Alabama is the odds-on favorite to win the Southeastern Conference for the second time in three seasons — although the media has correctly picked the league champion just six times since 1992. The South Carolina Gamecocks narrowly edged the Georgia Bulldogs as the Eastern Division favorites. Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall, Georgia tailback Todd Gurley and Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon were the preeminent picks for SEC Player of the Year.

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category