Thoughts of the Day: March 25, 2020


The NFL Draft in April is very much up in the air, but at some point the league is going to draft. Here is a speculative look at Gators who will factor in the draft:

C.J. Henderson: He’s going in the first round. The only question is where. He’s the 19th best prospect on Mel Kiper’s big board and the second best corner. Kiper has him going to the Las Vegas Raiders with the 12th pick in the first round. At the combine, Henderson solidified his first round status with a 4.39 40, which tied for second best among corners.

Jonathan Greenard: Mel Kiper rates him the eighth best defensive end who figures to be an edge rusher in a 3-4 scheme in the NFL. He ran a very good 4.87 40 at the combine and wowed the scouts in the interview process. He had a very productive grad transfer season at UF. He’s likely a third rounder but he could sneak into the late second.

Jabari Zuniga: Mel Kiper rates him the 10th best defensive end. He missed much of his senior season at UF due to injuries, but when he was on the field he was very productive. At the combine he opened scouts’ eyes with a 4.64 40 and a 127-inch standing broad jump. He’s a third round guy.

Van Jefferson: At the combine they discovered a broken bone in his foot so he couldn’t participate but he wowed the scouts at the interviews. Fortunately, everyone in the NFL saw him at the Senior Bowl where he ran precision routes and caught everything thrown anywhere near him. He runs in the 4.5-4.55 range which is good enough. He figures to be a slot receiver in the NFL and is probably going in the third round.

Lamical Perine: At the combine he ran a 4.62 but there is film showing him outrunning future NFL defensive backs at Auburn and Virginia on long touchdown runs. What helped him at the combine was his ability to run good pass routes and catch the football. Good Senior Bowl workouts also helped. He will most likely go in the third round but no matter where he is drafted he’ll make an NFL team.

Freddie Swain: He helped himself at the combine when he ran a 4.46 40, which told the scouts he can be more than just a possession receiver. The Auburn film is going to stand out too, particularly that 64-yard TD catch on the second play of the game. He’s a late third, early fourth round guy who will make a team because he can catch and play special teams.

Tyrie Cleveland: He helped himself at the combine when he ran a 4.46 and posted a 39.5-inch vertical. During combine workouts he showed he can run excellent routes and make all the catches. Most likely he’s a fourth or fifth round guy whose special teams abilities will ensure that he makes a team.

Josh Hammond: He will get drafted if for no other reason because he can catch, run routes and plays great special teams. He didn't get invited to the combine and he's hurt by not having a pro day, but he will make somebody's NFL team. He’s a third day guy, most likely sixth of seventh round.

David Reese: He didn’t get invited to the combine and with pro day cancelled, it won’t help him. Fortunately there is good film on him and it will show productivity on the field. It’s a linebacker-heavy draft but Reese is an excellent tackler who has the kind of smarts and recognition the NFL likes in its middle linebackers. Third day guy, most likely a seventh-rounder.

Tommy Townsend: Among punters and kickers, Kiper has Townsend rated eighth. If drafted, he will be a third day guy (sixth or seventh round). More likely to get a decent free agent deal.

Nick Buchanan: Size (he’s a couple of biscuits more than 290) is going to be a serious issue. The NFL likes centers who are in the 320-pound range who are capable of taking on monster nose tackles without help. The fact he’s really smart will get him some free agent looks.


(1) Bear Bryant (Kentucky, Alabama): He’s the winningest coach in Kentucky history, came close to winning a national title at Texas A&M when it was in the Southwest Conference, and then won six national championships and 13 SEC championships at Alabama. What made Bryant the best ever – not just in the SEC but EVER – was the fact that he re-invented himself as a coach at least five times and with each re-invention he was even better. His career record was 323-85-17, 60-23-6 at Kentucky and 232-46-9 at Alabama.

(2) Nick Saban (LSU, Alabama): He’s won a national title at LSU and five at Alabama. The dumbest thing he ever did was leave LSU for the NFL, but Bama offered him a lifeline when he found that NFL players don’t respond the way college players do. Since his first year at Alabama, Saban has won at least 10 games every season. He was 48-16 at LSU with two SEC titles and he’s 153-23 at Alabama with six SEC titles.

(3) Steven Orr Spurrier (Florida, South Carolina): Not many coaches can say they transformed the way the game was played in an entire conference but Spurrier did it when he awoke the sleeping giant at Florida. In his 12 years at UF he was 122-27-1 with six SEC championships and the 1996 national title. Only Bear Bryant can match Spurrier’s four straight SEC titles (1993-96). In retrospect, he probably wishes he hadn’t bolted UF for the Washington Redskins. If he was going to leave for the NFL there were better places and better owners to work for than Dan Snyder. At South Carolina, Spurrier became the winningest coach in school history (86-49) and put together the best four-year run ever from 2010-13 at 42-11. His overall coaching record (counting three years at Duke) was 228-89-2.

(4) General Robert Neyland (Tennessee): General Neyland’s Seven Maxims of Football are still taught today. His Tennessee teams in 1938-39 still hold the NCAA record of 17 consecutive shutouts and his 1939 team won every game by shutout. His career record was 173-31-12. Some experts say he’s the greates defensive mind in the history of college football. He’s credited with four national championships (1939-40, 1950-51), but only the 1951 team won the Associated Press national title. The Vols won six SEC titles.

(5) Johnny Vaught (Ole Miss): Once two-platoon football became the rule with unlimited substitution in 1964, Ole Miss fell to the middle of the SEC pack, largely because the state of Mississippi didn’t produce enough athletes for two platoons. From 1947-63, Ole Miss won seven SEC and three national (1959-60, 1962) although none of the national titles were recognized by the AP. His career record was 190-61-12.

(6) Urban Meyer (Florida): Meyer won two national championships and two SEC titles in six years at Florida. His first five years were quite impressive with two nine-win seasons and three 13-win seasons that included the 2006 and 2008 national championship teams. His 2008 team should rank among the best of all time. If he had it to do all over again, he probably would have taken a sabbatical in 2010 to deal with his medical issues but he let others talk him into coming back to coach. By the end of an 8-5 2010, he was burned out and needed time away from coaching. He resurfaced in 2012 at Ohio State where he won the 2014 national championship and posted an 83-9 record in seven years before he retired again after the 2018 season. Counting his 65-15 record at Florida, Meyer’s overall coaching record as a head coach (Bowling Green, Utah, UF, OSU) was 187-32.

(7) Frank Thomas (Alabama): The former quarterback for Knute Rockne at Notre Dame coached at Alabama from 1931-46, the first two years before there was such a thing as the SEC. He is credited with two (non-AP) national championships (1934, 1941) and four SEC titles. He was 115-24-7 at Alabama and 141-33-9 for his coaching career.

(8) Bobby Dodd (Georgia Tech): Dodd was the man who blocked Florida’s extra point to preserve a 13-12 Tennessee win in 1928, the only loss on Florida’s schedule. He is also the head coach whose defensive coordinator (Ray Graves) took Florida from the dark ages into the modern era of college football. From 1945-63, Georgia Tech belonged to the SEC. Dodd won the 1951-52 SEC titles and the 1952 national championship with a 12-0 record although the AP gave its version of the title to Michigan State. In 1964, Dodd as the Georgia Tech athletic director, took Tech out of the SEC for life as an independent, a move he later regretted. His last game as a head coach was the 1966 Orange Bowl, won by Florida and Ray Graves, 27-12. Dodd posted a 165-64-8 career coaching record.

(9) Vince Dooley (Georgia): Dooley was a former Auburn quarterback and assistant who got the Georgia job when Florida defensive coordinator and Georgia alum Gene Ellenson turned it down on the promise that he would succeed Ray Graves when Graves retired. We know how that worked out for Ellenson. Dooley won six SEC titles including three in a row (1980-82) and the national title in 1980, all courtesy of one Herschel Walker. Dooley finished his coaching career (all at Georgia) with a 200-77-10 record.

(10) Ralph “Shug” Jordan (Auburn): Jordan was the head football coach at Auburn from 1951-75 and the basketball coach at Auburn from 1933-42 and again in 1945-46 and at Georgia from 1946-50. Although he only won one SEC and one national title (1945), Jordan (pronounced Jurdon) was SEC coach of the year four times. His career coaching record in football was 175-83-6 while his basketball coaching record was 136-103.

RANDOM THOUGHTS: The Carolina Panthers have released Cam Newton. Potential landing spots include New England and the Los Angeles Chargers … is reporting that a trade may be in the works that will send quarterback Deshaun Watson to the Patriots … The Tokyo Olympics have been officially postponed until 2021, the first time the Olympics have ever been postponed or cancelled for something other than a war … Former Texas A&M running back Jashaun Corbin, a Cocoa native, has been given a waiver that will make him immediately eligible at FSU. Had Corbin transferred anywhere within the SEC he would have had to sit a year even if the NCAA had given him a waiver … Here are the 20 teams says will be hurt most by the lack of spring practice – 1. LSU; 2. Alabama; 3. Baylor; 4. Clemson; 5. Colorado; 6. Florida State; 7. Georgia; 8. Louisville; 9. Miami; 10. Michigan; 11. Minnesota; 12. Mississippi State; 13. Missouri; 14. North Carolina; 15. Ohio State; 16. Oregon; 17. Penn State; 18. South Florida; 19. Utah; 20. Washington State.

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