Gators short on talent at pro day

March, 13, 2012
3/13/12
4:38
PM ET
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It's definitely not a good sign about Florida's NFL Draft prospects when there's significantly more talent watching the pro scout day workouts than participating in them.

Quarterback John Brantley, running back Chris Rainey, defensive tackle Jaye Howard, and receiver Deonte Thompson worked out in front of NFL scouts from 24 teams and one head coach -- Jacksonville's Mike Mularkey -- on Tuesday morning at Florida Field. None of those players are projected any higher than mid- to late-round selections, which would snap the school's five-year streak of having at least one player taken in the first round.

Contrast that with the talented group of former UF players who watched the workouts. There were four first-round picks -- Maurkice and Mike Pouncey, Travis Taylor, and Percy Harvin -- and four others who were taken in the seventh round or higher: Terry Jackson (fifth), Riley Cooper (fifth) and Kerwin Bell (seventh). Mularkey was a ninth-round pick.

"We need more guys out there in position to be drafted," UF coach Will Muschamp said. "That's pretty evident as you go through our last two pro days.

"We need to do a better job recruiting. We need to do a better job evaluating. We need to do a better job of developing our players and coaching. Bottom line."

Rainey ran a 4.38 in the 40 0n Tuesday. His biggest goal was to prove to the scouts that he can catch the ball out of the backfield. As to where the 5-foot-9, 180-pound athlete fits on the next level, he said he's basically a smaller Harvin clone. He can play receiver or running back, return kicks and punts, and play on kick or punt block units.

"My goal is to confuse the scouts and they do the rest [in figuring out where he should play]," said Rainey, who finished his career with 3,948 all-purpose yards and 21 touchdowns. "If you’re going to be a playmaker on the field, that’s all that matters."

Howard projects as a mid-round selection. The 6-3, 301-pound lineman didn't do the bench press or run the 40 on Tuesday, preferring to use his numbers from the combine, when he did 24 reps of 225 pounds and ran a 4.75. He did participate in agility drills and said his goal was to prove to the scouts that he's a consistent player.

"Just my work ethic. That's the biggest question. They want to see if I can work," said Howard, who finished his career with 11 sacks. "It wasn’t really consistency. It's more like the transition between the coaching staff. They notice a different player every year. My senior year was a consistent year overall."

Brantley, who has been working out in Orlando with Cleveland Browns quarterback Charlie Frye at the Coach Tom Shaw Training Program in Orlando, threw various routes for about 20 minutes after participating in several drills and running a 4.8 in the 40. Brantley said he's been working four days a week with Frye since January.

"We worked a lot on my footwork and my feet. Did a lot of throwing, but mainly just getting my feet quicker and getting faster," said Brantley, who finished his career with 4,750 yards, 30 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. "I definitely needed him and he's made me a lot better."

Thompson ran a 4.27 in the 40, which was the day's fastest time. He also didn't drop a single pass.

"That’s what they [scouts] wanted to see," said Thompson, who caught 101 passes for 1,446 yards and nine touchdowns. "I know I don't have the numbers [receptions] some of these guys had, but I know what I can do. I'm going to play in the league for a long time. I'm going to be good."

Other players who worked out Tuesday were defensive end William Green, defensive back Moses Jenkins and offensive lineman Dan Wenger. Ten former players -- including Brandon James, Emmanuel Moody and Kestahn Moore -- and four players from other schools also participated. One of those was former Western Carolina quarterback Zac Brindise -- the younger brother of former UF quarterback Noah Brindise.

Former UF cornerback Janoris Jenkins attended as a spectator. He was dismissed from the team last April following his third arrest (second for marijuana).

"I have no problem [with him being there]," Muschamp said. "He did a great job for the University of Florida when he played here, and I wish him nothing but the best."

Mike DiRocco | email

ESPN Jacksonville Jaguars reporter

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