“My mindset is to get in with the older guys and get in contact with the veterans and get in my playbook,” said offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert, who has talked to over 20 NFL teams. “I want to do as much as I can and train hard, so that when the lockout is up and I’m able to participate, I can do full activity.”
Each player has his own opinion on what will happen, but the truth is, no one really knows how it will go.
“I don’t think this country will go without football, because everybody loves football,” safety Will Hill said. “They will come to an agreement and eventually we’ll have a season. Then it’s time to play ball.”
It’s an interesting dynamic to the draft for multiple players, especially some of the graduating seniors who are expecting to be undrafted free agents. With the lockout currently in place, NFL teams can’t sign free agents.
Defensive end Duke Lemmens joked that he has “bad luck” that it happened after his senior season, but he can’t control it now. He looks to a former teammate in current Buffalo Bills wide receiver David Nelson, who was an undrafted free agent and eventually earned a starting wide receiver spot during his rookie season.
“David Nelson is a success story,” Lemmens said. “He was under the radar and then started with the Bills. He did everything right. If guys like David can do it, I feel like I can do it, too.”
No collective bargaining agreement just makes it a lot tougher.
Ahmad Black ON A MISSION: The safety knows he has to prove the doubters wrong—again. He did it in high school, he did it in college and now he has to do it before moving into the NFL. He is just used to it now.
“It’s how many plays you make, at the end of the day,” Black said after his pro day workout. “If you don’t make plays or start for your college team, it’s almost impossible. I’ve been a three-year starter at the University of Florida with one national championship. I led the conference in interceptions twice I think and the nation once. I feel good about myself.
“If you don’t like to compete, this isn’t your sport. Go swim or something.”
Black doesn’t have any big plans for the NFL Draft. He’ll watch it in Lakeland with his family. He is a classic example of a player who will likely fall in the draft because of size and isn’t being judged based on his college production.
“The first thing that jumps out at you is his work ethic, love and passion for the game,” Florida head coach Will Muschamp said. “I was asking Urban (Meyer) earlier how many total interceptions he had, and you just have to think about all the big plays he made for the Gators.
“Before the draft, those NFL people will watch the tape. He’ll get in camp, and he’ll be fine.”
NFL personnel are already beginning to talk about the tape. They’ve seen how important Black was to the Florida defense in each of the past three years, always coming up with a play when the team needed it the most.
“You have to trust the tape,” Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Gene Smith said. “He doesn’t have elite measurables or times, but he plays well on film. I think he’s an outstanding tackler. He plays bigger than what he is. He has an opportunity initially to make an impact just off special teams.
JOHNSON WATCHES HIS WEIGHT: Carl Johnson measured in at 363 for the NFL Combine, but he tipped the scales at 358 on Tuesday. What might seem like throwing a deck chair off the Titanic to most people was encouraging for the offensive lineman.
“I’ve told you guys I had to get that beach body,” Johnson said. “I finally got it.”
Johnson has been in contact with San Francisco, Tampa Bay, Denver, San Diego, Oakland and many other teams so far. He met with 16 NFL teams with playing in the Texas vs. The Nation All Star Game and then met with ten when he was at the combine.
Most teams are talking about him playing guard in the NFL, but he doesn’t care. He used his workout on Tuesday to try showing off some of his agility to play whatever spot on the line is necessary.
“They already know I’ve got power, but I’ve got to show more agility and quick twitch muscles,” Johnson said.
DEFENSIVE ENDS LOOK TO IMPRESS: Justin Trattou and Duke Lemmens came into Pro Day with different levels of interest. Trattou played in the East-West Shrine Game and drew more attention after an impressive performance. Lemmems is just looking to open some eyes.
Trattou ran a 4.6 40-yard dash on Tuesday at Pro Day and got 34 inches in the vertical. He also recorded 22 bench press reps of 225 pounds.
“I did real well,” Trattou said. “I was as prepared as I could be, and I put up good numbers across the board.”
Lemmens knows his situation isn’t positive right now. He doesn’t have ideal size or speed to play defensive end in the NFL, but even catching on to the practice squad would be an ideal situation for him.
“I’m a realist,” Lemmens said. “Going into the season, I had no aspirations of even trying to do this. I had been a backup for almost three years, but I had a good enough senior year to think I could do this.
“There’s a lot of money to be made even if you’re not playing much. I know teams want to take chances on guys like me with good track records who work hard and love the game. Even on a practice squad, there’s no job out of college where I can get that kind of money. I don’t want football to end.”
Lemmens is three classes away from getting his degree in event managements, but he took the spring off to return home to California and train for a possible NFL career.
MUSCHAMP GETS ACQUAINTED: The new Florida head coach spent Tuesday’s Pro Day making the rounds around the field. The entire new Florida coaching staff was on the field watching players go through drills, while many of the current Florida players were, too. With multiple former players on the field, Muschamp wanted to meet them.
Former Gators like Chris Leak, Riley Cooper, Percy Harvin, Louis Murphy, David Nelson, Maurkice Pouncey and Carlos Dunlap were walking around The Swamp on Tuesday, and Muschamp made sure to meet as many as possible.
“It’s always important to look at the guys who built this place,” Muschamp said. “It’s important to reach out to them and make them realize they’re still important and our doors are always open for them.”
HILL READY FOR NEXT STEP: Will Hill wanted to better a few of his performances at the NFL combine, and he was able to. He took his vertical jump from 31 inches to 35, while also raising his broad jump from 10-3 to 10-5.
“I helped myself a lot,” Hill said. “I didn’t do as well as I wanted at the combine, but people said my numbers are much improved today.”
Hill said he expects to be selected in the late second or early third round of the NFL Draft.
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