I initially put on the film of this season's Florida-Florida State game (won by the Gators 37-26) to get a look at intriguing Seminoles OT Menelik Watson -- more on him later -- but I just couldn't ignore Florida DT Sharrif Floyd.
I had seen bits and pieces of Floyd during the season, but his film against Florida State is one of the better games I've seen from any prospect during the draft process.
Floyd has a compact build (6-foot-3, 298 pounds) with a thick lower half, a strong anchor and explosive power in the upper body. He played defensive end earlier in his career but played tackle in 2012 and appears comfortable there.
He showed a good first step against the Seminoles, both as a run defender and a pass-rusher. Floyd was consistently able to create penetration and disrupt plays in the backfield, and he showed his pass-rush skills in the first quarter when he beat a guard with a quick swim move to get pressure on Florida State QB EJ Manuel.
Floyd displayed quick hands to get into blockers and keep them off his frame, allowing him to control and shed while working down the line to get into plays. He also has the lateral agility and range to chase plays down from the back side.
Overall, Floyd had one solo tackle, one tackle for loss and one sack, but that doesn't tell the story of how disruptive he was from start to finish. He was around the ball all day, and Floyd looked like a first-rounder on that game tape.
His versatility is attractive, and expect his stock to solidify and perhaps even rise a bit as scouts dig into more of his 2012 performances.
Watson's intriguing story
As for the aforementioned Watson -- who has entered the draft as a junior -- his journey to Tallahassee was a long one.
Watson (6-6, 320) was raised in England and had a tough childhood but eventually made it to a basketball academy in Spain. From there, he earned a scholarship to Marist, where he played two years of basketball before quitting because he disliked losing. (The Red Foxes went 6-27 in his redshirt freshman year.)
He briefly toyed with the idea of becoming a heavyweight boxer, but Watson instead landed at Saddleback Community College in California with the idea of taking up football. He arrived at Saddleback in August 2011 having never put on pads before, but his development was astounding. Watson was a starter by the fourth game of the season.
The Florida State staff took notice after being tipped off by a friend of Watson and offered him a scholarship, and Watson started 12 games at right tackle for the Seminoles this season.
Watson's basketball background shows on the field. His natural feet and athleticism were on display on the first play of the Florida game, when he opened up and pulled easily down the line into space.
He is raw in terms of awareness and locating defenders and is a step late recognizing blitz and twists at times, but those things will improve with experience. Watson has the smooth feet to shuffle and mirror against pass-rushers, and his long arms help him ride defenders past the pocket.
I do have questions about his lower-body strength and ability to anchor in protection. He can be seen being lifted off his feet by speed-to-power moves at times against the Gators, and Floyd even threw him to the ground at one point. He was often rocked back into the pocket against Florida and also against Virginia Tech, when his subpar angles caused him to be beaten inside at times.
Scouts are sure to be intrigued with Watson's physical tools and potential. The fringe of Day 2 appears to be a starting point for his stock.
Florida LB Jenkins also stands out
Finally, Gators LB Jelani Jenkins jumped out when I watched the Gators-Seminoles film.
Jenkins is a little undersized (6-0, 230) and was swallowed up at times at the point of attack, but he plays a physical style and never backed down.
However, Jenkins is much better when playing in space in coverage. He is agile, has quick feet and moves well laterally. His instincts are solid. Jenkins was able to midpoint a flat/crossing route combination, baiting Manuel into throwing to the crossing route before flipping his hips and getting in position to make the interception.
Jenkins does come with some durability concerns, but he fits best at a weakside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme where he can be covered up and allowed to run. He could be a good find for a 4-3 team late in the third or fourth round.