University of Florida

Florida Gators’ NFL prospects showcase skills for scouts

Defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III (1) poses for teammates watching Florida’s NFL Pro Day in Gainesville, Fla., Tuesday, March 22, 2016.
Defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III (1) poses for teammates watching Florida’s NFL Pro Day in Gainesville, Fla., Tuesday, March 22, 2016. AP

On a beautiful Tuesday morning, Florida held its annual Pro Day indoors.

Although the venue was very different than year’s past, a number of former Gators once again impressed a cadre of NFL scouts and coaches from all 32 teams.

Potential first-round picks Jon Bullard and Vernon Hargreaves III dominated the day but in all, 15 former Florida players showcased their skills inside UF’s posh, new $17 million practice facility.

“The response from the scouts has been outstanding,” coach Jim McElwain said.“Our guys handled themselves, not only in the workouts but all the interviews. So it’s great to see. What a fun day for the Gators.”

Hargreaves, who measured at 5-10, 207 pounds, only participated in drills, opting to keep his solid showing (4.50 40-yard dash, 39-inch vertical jump) from the NFL Combine in February. The three-time All-American cornerback flashed his fluid hips and smooth footwork during secondary drills led by Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back coach Jon Hoke.

According to insiders, Hargreaves is a perfect match for his hometown Bucs at No. 9 overall, and the corner said it would “be amazing” to play for Tampa Bay.

Hargreaves also said he is “without a doubt” the best cornerback in the class and believes he won’t fall outside the top 10 when he attends the NFL Draft on April 28 in Chicago.

“From when I started playing football, this is what everyone dreams of, going to the NFL,” he said.

“Today is part of it. It was a good time. I’m excited to see what else is in store.”

Hargreaves said Miami, which owns the No. 13 pick, has shown lots of interest of late, too, and he met with Dolphins brass after Pro Day on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Bullard only participated in positional drills as well, but the 6-3, 284-pound defensive lineman garnered heavy interest from teams across the league after a dominating senior season.

Bullard hopes to become Florida’s fourth-straight defensive line prospect to get drafted in round one since 2013, and he said his decision to return to school for one more year paid dividends for his NFL stock.

“When the NFL comes and tells you that you’re not good enough to be what you want to do for the rest of your life — that puts a chip on your shoulder,” said Bullard, who recorded 17.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in 2015.

“So I used that chip, went in, worked hard and just proved that I’m on of the best defensive linemen in the country.”

Others who turned in impressive showings Tuesday included safety Keanu Neal, a potential late first- or-early second round pick, and versatile defensive back Brian Poole.

Neal ran a 4.52 40-yard dash at 6-1, 211 pounds. Poole, who wasn’t among UF’s contingent at the combine despite starting for three years at Florida, used his shocking snub to turn in a terrific day, running a 4.49 40-yard dash and performing well in various positional drills.

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