At his news conference following the victory over Florida State, Will Muschamp said he was not going to spend any time in future news conferences leading up the the Sugar Bowl addressing which juniors may or may not enter the NFL Draft.
That’s fine. But it doesn’t mean we can’t speculate about it here, which is what we’re going to do. There are five top juniors who will consider leaving early for the draft. There is a chance all five could go. Here’s a look at those players and their chances of leaving early:
DT Sharrif Floyd — He’s physically ready to move on to the next level, and that’s what most believe will happen. He had a dominant junior season after moving back inside to tackle after spending most of 2011 at defensive end. He could go late in the first round or early in the second. Chances he leaves: 99.9 percent.
DE/DT Dominique Easley — After undergoing ACL surgery a year ago, he may not quite be ready physically for the NFL. But he came on strong in the second half of the season and he’s very tight with Floyd. If Floyd goes, Easley may decide it’s time for him to move on, too. If he stays, he’ll have a chance to improve his NFL stock considerably with a strong senior season. Chances he leaves: 80 percent.
S Matt Elam — He’s had a huge junior season and emerged as one of the SEC’s leading defensive playmakers. The consensus among the NFL Draft analysts is he would be among the top four safeties in the draft if he comes out. This guy’s goal has been to play in the NFL for a long time. That time may be coming soon. Chances he leaves: 85 percent.
TE Jordan Reed — Having played tight end for only two seasons, this former quarterback may have the biggest NFL upside among the top UF juniors. He’s a great athlete, a great target and has shown he can make things happen after the catch. He’s still a little raw, but he’s a great prospect and he’s caught the attention of the NFL guys. Chances he leaves: 75 percent.
LB Jelani Jenkins — When healthy, he’s played like an NFL outside linebacker this season. But the injuries (a broken thumb and now a fractured foot) have cost him almost a third of his season (four games, including the Sugar Bowl). If not for the injuries, Jenkins likely would be preparing for his final UF game. Now, he may need to come back for his senior year and show the NFL coaches and scouts he can stay healthy through an entire season. Chances he leaves: 30 percent.