Tell me this doesn’t have a ring of familiarity to it.
It recently came to my attention that Florida had the fifth-most NFL Draft picks over the last ten years according to numbers compiled by ESPN. That’s one behind fourth-place Ohio State, seven behind third-place USC, and ten — just one pick per year — behind co-leaders Alabama and LSU over this time period.
Unfortunately for the program, Florida has the fewest wins of these teams over that span at 73. The next-lowest is USC with 82, then LSU with 87. Ohio State has 103, while Alabama has 113.
Most of this should not be a surprise, except for maybe Florida having that many draft picks over the last decade. Despite the team falling down to just over seven wins a year, the talent as measured by the draft was there. On top of that, I counted at least eight players who went undrafted but had a multi-year NFL career, and five more who signed with the Gators but were drafted by other teams after transferring. Barring a catastrophic injury, Will Grier will make that latter number six.
Talent coming in and results not matching… gee, where have we heard that song before?
Muschamp couldn’t recruit offense and he never had anyone who could coach offense. McElwain couldn’t recruit, period. Yet even with those shortcomings, Boom came within a hair of winning a division title and McElwain managed two. Imagine what life in Gainesville would be like if Florida were hitting on all cylinders in recruiting.
Given how last year went and the apparent shortcomings on Florida’s 2018 roster, it’s easy to dismiss the program. That, in my opinion, is a mistake. Florida sits in a talent-rich environment, and, sure, while there are plenty of rivals fighting the Gators over recruits, there is plenty to go around. There is no reason to think that if UF managed a Richt to Smart-type transition, it couldn’t be right back in the thick of the conference title race. The question (for now, anyway) is whether Florida’s managed that with the hire of Dan Mullen.
Early indications aren’t comforting if you’re a Gator fan, at least when it comes to recruiting, but it’s way too early to be slitting wrists. Mullen does bring one thing to the table Florida’s been missing for a decade, a clue about how to coach offense. We’ll soon see if that’s enough to get the program back on track to where it was a decade ago.