Florida Gators: Minnesota Vikings

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida came close, but the Gators fell one player short of tying the school record for most players taken in a seven-round NFL draft.

It was still an impressive showing. Eight UF players were drafted, the most since nine were taken in the 2010 draft. Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and safety Matt Elam were taken in the first round, giving the Gators multiple first-round picks for the first time since 2010.

Florida’s eight selections was one shy of LSU and Alabama, which led the Southeastern Conference with nine. Georgia also had eight players picked.

Here’s a breakdown of the Gators who were drafted:

DT Sharrif Floyd
First round: No. 23 overall by Minnesota

DT Kevin Williams and NT Letroy Guion are the Vikings’ starters, but Floyd should figure prominently in the rotation. He said he’s eager to learn all he can from Williams, a 10-year vet with 434 tackles and 56.5 sacks. The knock on Floyd is that he doesn’t have long arms, but he does have a quick first step and good speed for a 300-pounder.

S Matt Elam
First round: No. 32 overall by Baltimore

Elam couldn’t step into a better situation. The Ravens lost both starting safeties from their Super Bowl championship team. They released Bernard Pollard (he later signed with Tennessee) and Ed Reed signed a free-agent contract with Houston. Despite not having ideal size (5-foot-10, 208 pounds), Elam is more similar to Pollard than Reed. Elam is physical enough to play the run but also is good enough to cover slot receivers man-to-man.

LB Jonathan Bostic

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Former Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and safety Matt Elam have traded orange and blue for purple. In Floyd's case, it came a little later than most everyone thought, and nobody's quite sure why.

The Minnesota Vikings took Floyd with the 23rd selection of the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday night. Roughly an hour later, the Baltimore Ravens selected Elam with the round’s final pick. Elam was regarded as a borderline first-round selection, but Floyd was projected by several draft analysts to be a top-five pick and his freefall down the draft board was the night’s biggest surprise.

Sharrif Floyd
AP Photo/Jason DeCrowFormer Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd said he doesn't have a chip on his shoulder, but a "bag of Lay's" about his draft drop.
The 6-foot-3, 297-pound Floyd was considered the top defensive tackle in the draft but Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson (No. 13 to the New York Jets) and Utah’s Star Lotulelei (No. 14 to Carolina) were taken before him. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock reported that a team executive told him the drop was because of character concerns.

UF coach Will Muschamp said he doesn’t understand why anyone would say that.

"I was with the young man for two years and he’s as good a young man as we’ve had on our football team and in our locker room," Muschamp said. "He’s as good a kid as I’ve been around. There’s absolutely no character issues. I don’t know where that comes from, from people grasping at straws when a guy slides a little bit in the draft."

Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said his team found no off-the-field issues with Floyd and former Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes, the Vikings’ second first-round pick.

"Very clean," Spielman said in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "We met with both of them numerous times. There were not personal issues, no off-field issues when it comes to what we look for in bringing [players] into our building."

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