As the NFL draft draws closer and closer, it’s no surprise that there will be several Florida Gator football team members interested in declaring for it. Set to occur on April 28th until April 30th in Chicago, the draft is an annual event where coaches from all the National Football League teams pick from a pool of eligible college players. It’s the most common and well known source of player recruitments. There have been many Florida Gators in the past who have been selected for the draft including Reggie Nelson, Elliott Smith, Max Starks and Tim Tebow – just to name a few. With such a rich history of providing pro level football players, many team members declare during their undergraduate years.
This year, junior cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III announced his intentions to declare for the draft after SEC Championship Game this year. The Gators had faced Alabama for the ninth time in this Championship, and lost the game 15-29. His declaration surprised no one.
“This guy’s got a long future ahead of him,” Florida head coach Jim McElwain said to Fox Sports. “We’re excited for him.”
Hargreaves has been projected as a possible first-round pick since his sophomore season with the Gators. He has proven his abilities to talent evaluators of the NFL time and time again. Whether he lands in the first round or early in the second one will remain unclear until draft day, but Vernon has the chance to go on and succeed in a sport he loves so much.
Hargreaves isn’t the first Gator to experience this situation though. A year ago, Dante Fowler Jr was Florida’s number one draft prospect. He left school a year early and was the third overall pick in the 2015 draft pick. As a result of his draft pick and a knee injury, Fowler decided to forgo his final season with the Gators.
Many other Gators are coming to the reality though: do they finish school or leave? More than five players from the current rosters have had interested in them and received feedback from the Draft advisory board. These players are Keanu Neal, Marcus Maye, Kevlin Taylor, Demarcus Robinson, Bryan Cox Jr, and Alex McCalister. While there are benefits to leaving, some may stay as it helps to raise their draft potentials and possibly have the best seasons of their academic careers.
January 18th, 2016 is the deadline for underclassmen to apply for the Draft.