Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Gator Breakdown: Dominique Easley
By Michael DiRocco
During the summer, GatorNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Florida roster -- excluding the Gators’ 2013 recruiting class -- in our Gator Breakdown series. Starting with No. 1Quinton Dunbar we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 97 Brad Phillips.
Expectations for 2013: Easley nearly left for the NFL after the 2012 season but came back because his mother wanted him to remain in school. He was supposed to line up at defensive end this season, but the staff has moved him back to tackle. For two reasons: The Gators need help at tackle, and the development of ends Jonathan Bullard and Bryan Cox Jr. means UF could absorb his departure inside. Easley has the ability to be the same kind of disruptive force inside that Sharrif Floyd was last season. His strength is his first step, which helps him overcome the fact that he’s a little lighter (285 pounds) than most tackles. Easley may not be able to be the anchor that Floyd was in the run game, but he can be more of a factor as a pass rusher because of his quickness.
Florida hopes to take advantage of Dominique Easley's quickness and versatility at defensive tackle and end.
Best-case scenario for 2013: Easley said this spring that he prefers playing inside because he likes to fight and there’s more fighting in the middle. He should get all the action he wants. He needs to have the best season of his career to offset the inexperience up front. UF heads into the season with just two other defensive tackles who have played in a game: nose tackles Leon Orr and Damien Jacobs. Easley should be able to reach double digits in tackles for loss and surpass 30 total tackles as well as help some of the younger players like Joey Ivie and Caleb Brantley develop.
Worst-case scenario for 2013: Easley suffered a torn ACL at the end of the 2011 season and had some issues with the knee last season as well. It doesn’t appear that’s going to be an issue in 2013, but it certainly bears monitoring. The Gators cannot afford to not have him on the field because that would make a serious dent in the tackle rotation.
Future impact: More than just UF’s season is on the line for Easley. His draft stock also will be influenced by what he does in 2013. A dominant year can move him into the first or second round. Defensive tackle is a premium position in the NFL.