15 CB Loucheiz Purifoy (6’1″ 189 pounds, JUNIOR)
Purifoy is a really intriguing playmaker for the Gators that can be used in all three phases of the game. He’s obviously a very highly touted CB prospect who has great size and athletic ability, but the Gators also gave him a carry last year and he caught a five yard pass. Purifoy is also a very good special teams player who is relentless when going after the ball carrier.
The biggest problem with Purifoy at this point is that he is raw. Purifoy was a first year starter in 2012, and at times, it really showed. He finished with a respectable 51 tackles and five passes broken up, but he didn’t have any interceptions and looked like he played a little bit too loose in coverage at times, allowing receivers much too big of a cushion.
What I really like about Purifoy is his aggressive style of play. Florida likes to utilize his speed and quickness to blitz the quarterback and make plays behind the line of scrimmage, and he was able to force three fumbles last season. He has great length and athletic ability, and can also return kicks if he’s asked to do so.
Purifoy has good hip movement and quick feet, and is able to keep up with any receiver on the outside in terms of speed.
He seems to be at his best in press coverage, though sometimes QBs will take advantage of his aggressive style of play and get him to bite on fakes. This is a corner prospect that is really solid in run support, and a guy who could be a very high NFL draft pick. He is going to make a significant impact for Florida in 2013 and could see his stock rise to one of the top CB prospects in the entire country.
5 CB Marcus Roberson (6’0″ 195 pounds, JUNIOR)
Roberson is the quintessential cover cornerback. When I say that, I mean to point out that it’s clear he doesn’t care much for tackling. As a sophomore, Roberson tallied just 23 tackles, and it’s evident when you watch him play that it’s a part of his game he really needs work on.
After adding some muscle to his frame in the offseason, Roberson is ready to prove that he’s more physical than we’ve seen to this point, and that he can put together a complete game.
Aside from the tackling thing, Roberson is a very, very good cornerback prospect. He flips his hips with ease, and has excellent size and length for the position. He got his hands on the ball more than any Florida defender last year, breaking up 12 passes and picking off two. He also forced a fumble.
Really great ability to close on the football and make plays. I think Roberson has a chance to really break out in 2013 and emerge as a top CB prospect.
14 DB Jaylen Watkins (6’0″ 187 pounds, SENIOR)
Senior defensive back making the transition to the safety position after starting 19 games at cornerback for the Gators. Part of a really talented defensive backfield in Gainesville that includes potential top 50 picks Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson, Watkins has been the best of the group at least in terms of production on the field.
As a junior, he racked up 39 tackles, eight passes broken up, and three interceptions–one of which was returned for a touchdown. Watkins is a lean corner prospect with good length who is a solid tackler that should be able to make a smooth transition to safety, even though his best position as a pro will likely be cornerback.
With Matt Elam and Josh Evans off to the NFL, Watkins is taking over as one of the starting safeties because he’s simply too talented to leave off the field. With the blitzing ability of Purifoy, it’s possible we see Watkins play some corner as well this season with Purifoy used as a pass rushing weapon.
I think he has a chance to be a starter for a long time in the NFL.
2 DL Dominique Easley (6’2″ 280 pounds, SENIOR)
Easley suffered a torn ACL after a very productive 2010 season, but came back in 2012 with a chip on his shoulder and proved he could still make big plays, and from a couple of positions. Florida primarily ran a 4-3 defense last season, where Easley was used both inside and out. He has good quickness for a big man but his skill set is best utilized from an interior line position going forward.
With the Gators expected to move to more three-man fronts in 2013, Easley will assume nose tackle duties and should be productive once again. He is a quick defensive tackle who has violent hand usage and good quickness off the snap. His injury is a slight concern but he appeared to be healthy last season and should be even stronger in 2013 as a senior.
Easley is a former top recruit who has had really high expectations for his career, and a big senior season could vault him into the upper half of the draft, similar to what we saw from Sharrif Floyd in 2012 before he was selected in the first round by the Minnesota Vikings.
7 LB Ronald Powell (6’4″ 245 pounds, JUNIOR)
Powell has a durability asterisk next to his name after tearing his ACL twice in 2012, but this is a freakishly talented kid who could be a first round pick when all is said and done.
He had a solid 2011 season in what was sort of his coming out party, where he finished with 32 tackles, nine tackles for loss, and six sacks. He is undoubtedly the most talented pass rusher on the Gators’ roster at this point, and the team has high expectations for him. In fact, Will Muschamp is building the entire defense around him, as Powell is a main reason why they are going to use more 3-man looks up front in 2013.
Powell doesn’t yet appear to have elite bend around the edge, but in obvious passing situations, he is hard to keep at bay. He’s not the biggest OLB prospect I’ve ever seen but he has a good combination of length, strength, and quickness.
Played some with his hand in the dirt in 2011, but that’s not his forte. Powell’s size indicates he is the perfect fit for the rush linebacker position at the next level. He will be even more productive when he learns to time the snap count better and get off the ball in a hurry.
4 WR/RS Andre Debose (5’11” 189 pounds, SENIOR)
Andre Debose will wind up eventually making an NFL roster because he has two skills that coaches simply cannot coach. Number one, he has speed. Number two, Debose has a natural ability to make plays with the ball in his hands. Some guys have it, some guys just don’t. He was not involved in the passing game at all as a junior, but has four career kick return touchdowns and also caught 16 passes for a whopping 432 yards and four TDs as a sophomore.
Debose’s playmaking ability will most certainly get him noticed by an NFL team, and if he can prove more reliable as a wide receiver, he should easily find a home in the league. This guy’s gonna run a blistering 40 yard dash at the Combine and should blow everyone away with his athletic ability. Even if he’s undrafted, I like his NFL chances.