As the 2021 college football season draws closer and closer to an end, it’s becoming time to evaluate potential pro prospects and turn our attention toward the 2022 NFL draft. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. released his latest big board this week, and it features a number of Florida players in his positional top 10s.
Despite the fact that the Gators have struggled on the field this season there are several players who Kiper is high on, including cornerback Kaiir Elam, who is considered among the best cornerbacks in the country.
Here’s where each UF prospect stands on Kiper’s board, starting with Elam, the only one projected to go during the first day.
Kaiir Elam – No. 2 cornerback (No. 19 overall)
Elam sprained his knee earlier this season and missed a few games, but he has been good when he has played. His 2020 tape is inconsistent — he got beat for a couple long touchdowns — but in five games in 2021 he has allowed just 42 receiving yards as the closest defender in coverage. That’s an average of 3.5 yards per attempt in his direction. Elam has long arms and good instincts; he has six career picks. He can play press coverage and lock up wideouts.
The injury certainly hasn’t helped Elam’s status, but there’s been a clear difference in the play of the secondary when he’s able to go. The 42 yards allowed in coverage stat that Kiper mentioned is incredibly impressive, and he should find himself off the board on Night 1.
Zachary Carter – No. 8 defensive tackle
Returning to college for his senior season has proven to be a fantastic decision for Carter. He’s already set a career-best mark in sacks, totaling six through nine games, and he’s been one of the few bright spots of this defense alongside Elam.
Carter is probably not really in the running for a Day 1 draft slot, but he could easily find himself off the board on Day 2.
Ventrell Miller – No. 10c linebacker
Miller is a difficult player to evaluate. He could’ve found himself much higher on the board if it weren’t for a season-ending injury suffered during Florida’s Week 2 win over South Florida. He was one of the better linebackers in the SEC last year and UF’s leading tackler, but his decision to return to school may not pay off unless he impresses during the combine and/or pro days.