University of Florida

UF’s seven pics ties Alabama for most in SEC

After returning from a serious kneew injury, linebacker Antonio Morrison led the Gators in tackles with 103.
After returning from a serious kneew injury, linebacker Antonio Morrison led the Gators in tackles with 103. AP

Despite most analysts pegging linebacker Antonio Morrison and receiver Demarcus Robinson as potential late-round picks, the former Florida standouts surprisingly went back-to-back during the fourth round of Saturday’s 2016 NFL Draft.

Both players faced a number of questions during the predraft process, yet Morrison, a Chicago native, went No. 125 to the Indianapolis Colts, while the Kansas City Chiefs selected Robinson with the very next pick.

The two players highlighted a productive day for Florida, as four former Gators went off the board. Tailback Kelvin Taylor was a sixth-round pick by San Francisco and defensive end Alex McCalister went to Philadelphia in the seventh round.

In all, Florida had seven draftees during the three-day event — tying Alabama for the most in the SEC.

All-American cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III (No. 11 overall, Tampa Bay) and safety Keanu Neal (No. 17 overall, Atlanta) were the crown jewels Thursday, while Jon Bullard slipped to the third round (No. 72, Chicago) Friday.

Morrison’s early selection was a shock Saturday, as the All-SEC linebacker missed the NFL Combine due to a mystery illness and then struggled mightily at Florida’s Pro Day.

Production was never an issue for Morrison, as the linebacker rebounded from a horrific knee injury in the 2015 Birmingham Bowl to lead UF in tackles (103) for the second-straight season.

“I gave him a third-round grade based on tape. I really like him on tape as a football player,” said ESPN analyst Todd McShay, who questioned Morrison’s durability and a lack of athleticism.

“But the problem is he’s 6-1, 233-pounds and he ran a 5.10 in his 40-yard dash. That’s like a 320-pound defensive lineman, so you’re talking about a guy who doesn’t measure very well.”

Robinson faced multiple questions, too, but the wideout’s upside was too much for Kansas City to overlook.

The 6-1, 203-pound junior left Florida early after leading the team with 48 catches. In 2014, Robinson had a 15-catch, 216-yard game against Kentucky.

Still, Robinson enters the league with a number of red flags, as the receiver was suspended four times at Florida and openly talked of battling addiction problems during interviews at the combine.

“Breakout year in 2014, you thought he was headed for stardom,” said ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr., who questioned the Chiefs’ pick.

“Good run after-the-catch ability, decent hands and body control, but he’s too inconsistent. There were games where he just wasn’t that impressive. He had some issues as well. Can he be reliable and dependable? Certainly the talent is there.”

McShay added that “some scouts thought [Robinson] might be one of the Top 10 talents at wide receiver” and that “he’ll be an interesting player to watch.”

Meanwhile, Taylor was the 19th tailback off the board, going No. 211 overall to the 49ers. The former five-star recruit and son of Florida legend Fred Taylor rushed for 1,035 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior. He had to wait awhile to hear his name called, though, as teams were wary about the tailback’s lack of top-end speed.

Taylor will join former Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel, as the Louisiana Tech product went four picks earlier to San Francisco.

McCalister was Florida’s final player drafted, going to the Eagles as the 240th pick. The 6-6, 245-pound pass rusher led the Gators with 6.5 sacks as a junior, but character concerns and questions about his motor and strength caused McCalister to slide to the end of the draft.

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