Six tailbacks were selected on the second day of the 2015 NFL Draft, including Florida junior Matt Jones.
Jones, who multiple draft analysts projected as a mid-round pick, was one of the final picks of Friday’s third round, going 95th to Washington.
Jones struggled with durability and production at Florida, but many draft gurus viewed the 6-3, 230-pound back as an underrated prospect with a unique combination of size, speed (he ran a 4.53 40-yard-dash at UF’s Pro Day) and versatility.
Jones rushed for 1,431 yards and 12 touchdowns in three seasons at UF.
Meanwhile, Florida offensive tackle Chaz Green surprisingly jumped into the third round, selected No. 91 by Dallas.
Green, a 6-5, 314-pound versatile offensive lineman who can play guard and both tackle positions, was projected as a late-round pick by multiple draft sites including NFL.com and CBSSports.com.
Jones and Green join first-round picks defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. and left tackle D.J. Humphries as Florida’s four draft selections thus far.
Several other Gators hope to find a professional home Saturday during rounds 4-7, with linebacker Neiron Ball standing as UF’s most intriguing prospect remaining.
The 6-foot-3, 236-pound outside linebacker ran a 4.59 40-yard dash at UF’s Pro Day, just five months removed from microfracture surgery.
“Neiron is freakishly athletic,” said Fowler Jr., who went third overall to Jacksonville on Thursday. “Any coach would love to get him. I know he’s going to be a surprise.”
Ball’s path to the NFL has been an arduous journey, losing both his parents before the age of 10, missing an entire year of football after undergoing brain surgery in 2011 and then playing well as a senior before sustaining a season-ending knee injury in late November.
Still, the 22-year-old prospect is doggedly determined to overcome his hardships, hoping to make a team as a rangy, athletic linebacker and a special teams stalwart.
“I’m just going to sit back and wait and pray my name is called,” he said last month. “All that matters at the end of the day is I get on a team.”
Along with Jones and Ball, versatile offensive lineman Max Garcia, mammoth offensive guard Trenton Brown and defensive tackle Leon Orr are projected to get their names called.
Former Booker T. Washington wideout Quentin Dunbar is unlikely to get selected, but like kick returner Andre Debose, is viewed as a potential priority free agent.