College football is always full of surprises. Louisvile's control and domination of the Florida Gators through much of the Sugar Bowl was certainly the best surprise of the bowl season. It's quarterback performances and coaching efforts like that which keep fans on the edge of their seats as soon as kickoff hits.
However, one surprise that didn't come from that game was that Florida junior prospects would be heading off to the NFL. And according to Mike DiRocco, both Matt Elam (safety) and Sharrif Floyd (defensive tackle) will be NFL bound for the 2013 NFL Draft.
Neither prospects declaring should come as much of a surprise. Both have flashed exciting NFL upside much of this year, and both were key reasons for Florida's surprising success in the SEC this year, thanks to the play of the defense.
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Here's what Alex Brown, SEC scout for Optimum Scouting, had to say about Floyd.
"Well built and powerful throughout his frame, Sharrif Floyd possesses the broad shoulders, barrel chest, and thick bubble to anchor inside on a 4-man front or outside in a 3-man front. Light on his feet and heavy with his hands, Floyd shoots and penetrates gaps surprisingly well, ripping across face, skinnying his shoulders through gaps, and breaking down into a tackling position.
So very sudden with his hands off the line, Sharrif Floyd is quick to shed blocks and beat the back to the spot. Having an impressive get-off and great bend for a defensive lineman of his size and bulk, Floyd would certainly be among the top rated 5-techniques and a first round pick should he declare himself eligible for the 2013 draft."
And here's what Alex had to say about Matt Elam:
"Making plays all over the field with his plus closing speed and instincts, Matt Elam looks a lot like former Texas safety and current Seattle Seahawks NFL’er Earl Thomas. Running down the alley under control, squaring up the ball carrier and exploding through the ball carrier, Elam is an absolute force in the running game.
In two words, Elam is an explosive tackler. Beyond his hitting power though, Elam has his fair share of struggles in man coverage, lacking the proper drive angles and closing confidence to prevent short-to-intermediate pass completions. Elam’s lack of height and plus coverage skills may knock him down a round or two, but his overall impact and aggression as a “robber safety” in a cover one scheme, certainly warrants a 3rd or 4th round grading."
While neither defensive player is a lock for the Top 20, both have reasonable chances to be picked in the Top 50. As is true with most juniors, the NFL Combine will have a lot to do with their draft value. However, with the value of safeties and 5-techniques consistently high in the draft process, both prospects could go higher than we view them now.