GAINESVILLE — Despite five cornerbacks finding homes in Thursday’s first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Florida’s talented trio of defensive backs — Jaylen Watkins, Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy — did not hear their names called during Friday’s second and third round.
Roberson and Purifoy, a pair of enigmatic underclassmen prospects once touted as potential first-round picks, went unselected following poor workouts and lackluster junior campaigns.
Both prospects clocked subpar 4.61 seconds 40-yard dashes at the NFL Scouting Combine and were troubled by various suspensions (undisclosed “team violations”) during their Gators career.
“Roberson and Purifoy looked like first-rounders at one point,” ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. said in late April. “But then they ran those slow 40s and simply didn’t test well.”
Meanwhile, Watkins ran a 4.41 seconds 40-yard dash at the Combine and coupled with his versatility, high football IQ and standout play at the Senior Bowl, was considered one of the premier risers in the draft.
But like Roberson and Purifoy, Watkins must wait until Saturday to determine his professional home, as six former Gators hope to be selected during Rounds 4-7 over the weekend.
Thus far, former defensive tackle Dominique Easley stands as Florida’s lone selection during this year’s draft.
Easley, a dominant and disruptive three-technique tackle plagued by durability concerns following multiple ACL injuries, was selected No. 29 overall by the New England Patriots on Thursday.
Despite sustaining a noncontact knee injury in mid-September, Easley overcame his injury history, impressing nearly two dozen scouts during a private pro day in April showcasing his explosiveness, competitiveness and power.
“He’s one of the best value picks in this draft,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said during Thursday’s telecast.
“He’s the prototype three-technique tackle. He’s quick. He’s explosive. … This is a typical Bill Belichick pick. He’s got talent and the rest of the league discounted the talent because of the injury.”
He is the 12th Florida player drafted by the Patriots, including former UF standouts Brandon Spikes, Aaron Hernandez and Jermaine Cunningham.