Tracking the 2022 NFL Draft and Gators Free Agents

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The 2022 NFL Draft is over and another crop of talent is heading to the Gainesville pros. Three players have had their names called for as many draft days, but several other former Gators are finding deals as undrafted free agents.

There’s no guarantee any of the recent signings will make it onto an opening roster or even a practice squad for that matter, but that’s the opportunity most of these players have. worked for most of their lives. Wasting that chance to fulfill the dream of being an NFL athlete is something they aim to avoid.

There might be more to come too. While names like linebacker Jeremiah Moon and running back Malik Davis are already locked in, players like offensive lineman Stewart Reese and wide receiver Rick Wells are still available.

With that said, let’s take a look at every member of the 2021 Florida Gators football team who currently ends up with an NFL team.

Perhaps surprisingly, Zachary Carter was the second Gator drafted over the weekend ahead of running back Dameon Pierce. The Bengals made Carter a third-round pick because of his versatility on the defensive line. During his Florida career, Carter regularly changed positions along the defensive line. It’s something that he says has prepared him for the rigors that come to the next level.

Cincinnati was in the middle of the pack last year when it came to quarterback pressure. The Bengals finished 2021 with a 10.8 QB rush percentage (T-14th) and should be able to improve on that after adding Carter and other defensive players in the draft.

Dameon Pierce got a ton of hype heading into the draft, but he slipped somewhat shockingly in the fourth round and landed with the Houston Texans at No. 107 overall. The Texans are rebuilding and it looks like the focus was on the running game early on. Pierce is the second fullback added to the team since the end of the season, the other being former Indianapolis Colt Marlon Mack.

Many said Pierce had a legitimate shot at becoming a three-way back in the NFL given his hard-nosed running style. He will have to split the races early, probably as third behind Mack, but he could be one to watch as the season progresses.

Jeremiah Moon was expected to be the fourth and final Gator drafted in the 2022 NFL Draft, but unfortunately his name was never called. The phone rang almost immediately after the draft ended, and Moon joined the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent.

If Moon can stay healthy (he suffered three season-ending injuries in six years at Florida), he has a shot at making the roster. He’s big for a linebacker but too small to play defensive end in the league, so he’s definitely a developmental signing.

As mentioned above, Valentino joined the New York Giants after the draft was concluded. He saw more playing time than Truesdell in a year in Florida, but that may be because Valentino arrived on campus first and had more time to learn the pattern. He finished the season with 23 total tackles, three tackles for loss, and one sack.

Malik Davis didn’t quite have the hype that Pierce had in the draft, but he’s had some solid numbers in 2021, especially in the opening games of the season when it looked like Florida had a game over. ‘elite. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry for 487 rushing yards and five touchdowns.

The Dallas Cowboys took a chance on Davis as an undrafted free agent after seeing him slip through the cracks on day three of the draft. There are speed issues and a lack of pass-blocking ability to consider if you’re Dallas, but the reliable backfield hands and vision Davis possesses might be enough to earn him a spot.

Good offensive linemen are a commodity in the draft, but Jean Delance wasn’t ranked high enough to be selected this year. This opened the door for the Chicago Bears to sign him as an undrafted free agent and bolster their roster with players who will compete for opportunities on the team.

His 21 bench press reps at UF Pro Day should mean he’s fully recovered from his lingering injuries and is ready to make the most of his shooting in Chicago.

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