Round 1 of the 2012 NFL Draft came and went on Thursday night and as expected no former Florida Gators were selected. It wasn’t surprising, but to many indicates just how far the Gators have fallen off the map.
That’s true, but it also isn’t. College talent doesn’t always equal NFL talent. It’s a different game and employs different types of players. A great college player doesn’t always become a great NFL player, but it can have a link to recent success or a lack thereof. There’s a reason Florida, Florida State and Miami were all shut out in the first round for the first time since 1980. Alabama on the other hand; well, you only have to look at the top seven picks. Where the biggest link comes to life is when you look at the Gators record over the last two seasons. Programs that go 15-11 end up in a situation like this.
A Gator will eventually go, but the question is when. Jaye Howard and Chris Rainey are the likely candidates. Howard’s potential and strength have some teams interested, while Rainey’s speed and overall skill set could push him into the first half of the draft. They’re both expected to be selected, but we have no educated idea of when that will happen. Some say Rainey could go as high as the second round or as low as the fourth. Howard is a likely sixth or seventh round pick.
That they will be the only former Florida players drafted says something about the recent roster, but again it doesn’t. It says something about the NFL talent level. Of course, in the SEC, that can mean much of the same. While we’d all like to see Gators fly off the board each year come draft time, we’re much more concerned with how they play when they suit up for Florida.