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DaKCMan AP
04-26-2011, 06:29 AM
Pouncey the center of attention among Florida Gators prospects

Mike Pouncey’s versatility on the offensive line has him targeted as high as a first-round selection in the NFL Draft beginning Thursday.

BY MIKE MCCALL

MIAMI HERALD WRITER

GAINESVILLE -- Mike Pouncey’s sometimes-erratic snaps will go down as a lasting memory for Florida fans from a forgettable 2010 season.

He caught guff from every direction — even a McDonald’s drive-thru worker who told him, “Don’t mess up any more snaps.”

But as Thursday’s NFL Draft approaches, it’s clear that the reputation hasn’t followed him to the next level.

“They loved me,” Pouncey said after his Pro Day workout.

Pouncey morphed from subpar center back to stellar guard since the season’s end, and his versatility makes him a more coveted prospect.

WHERE TO PLAY

With most experts predicting he will be taken between picks 15 and 20, Pouncey is poised to extend UF’s streak to five drafts with a first-round selection and increase the school’s total of seven top picks since 2007, which leads the nation.

Whether he will play guard — where he was a 2009 second-team All-American — or center remains to be seen, but he seems a lock to go in the opening round, just as his twin brother, Pittsburgh center Maurkice Pouncey, did last year when the Steelers took him at No. 18.

But Pouncey is the only sure thing when it comes to the Gators’ 2011 draft class.

Tackle Marcus Gilbert, a Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas graduate, is a projected third-rounder, making him the next-best prospect, and after him, there are a lot of question marks.

Fellow linemen Carl Johnson and Maurice Hurt, both guards, could go anywhere from the fourth round to undrafted. Their experience playing multiple positions alongside the Pounceys at UF could make them more attractive.

“The vibe I got at the Combine was that Florida [offensive linemen] are a hot thing on the market this year,” Johnson said. “You don’t really know when they’re going to call your name. The predictions might be where one team has you, and another might have you in the seventh. I’m praying it’s in the third round, but I don’t know.”

SAFETIES LATE

Safeties Ahmad Black and Will Hill will have to play the wait-and-see game, too.

After a college career that took him from overlooked recruit to elite playmaker, Black appears to have come full circle.

He tied for the nation’s lead in interceptions in 2008 — including a diving pick in the BCS Championship Game — then finished second on the team in tackles in 2009 and led the squad last year. He even finished his career with a pick-six to earn MVP of the Outback Bowl, but the doubts returned.

His small frame has always been a concern, but then he clocked cringe-inducing 40-yard-dash times at the Combine: 4.75 and 4.78 seconds. That dropped him from a possible second-rounder to a consensus fourth-round-or-later prospect, meaning Black might have to prove himself all over again.

“I feel pretty good,” Black said. “I was a three-year starter at the University of Florida, won a national championship, led the conference in interceptions and the nation once, so I feel pretty good.”

The worries about Hill are for a different reason. His junior season and 40-yard dash (4.66 seconds) were disappointing, but a string of profane posts on his Twitter account really raised red flags.

Hill — who left school a year early to support his three children — said his Twitter was hacked, but that hasn’t put the issue to rest.

“The guy is ignorant and crazy. I wouldn’t touch him,” one scout told The Miami Herald last week.

LONG CAREER

And perhaps the chance for the longest pro career out of the class belongs to Chas Henry. Henry won the Ray Guy Award last season, which is given to the nation’s top punter, and is a likely late-round pick. No punter has been taken before the fifth round in the past three drafts.

There’s plenty of wiggle room for Henry and the rest of Florida’s potential draftees, but Pouncey is certain he will go in the top round.

He will be the only player from a Florida school at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall for the first round — a long way from that McDonald’s drive-thru in Gainesville.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/04/26/2185050/pouncey-the-center-of-attention.html#ixzz1Kcypztyv

DaKCMan AP
04-26-2011, 06:33 AM
Ahmad Black is one of those guys who defies the measurables. He's undersized and slow, but he's excellent in coverage, always in the right place, has a nose for the football, and always makes a big play in the clutch. He wasn't even supposed to start at Florida and he was a 3yr lock at safety and the MVP and leader on D. Whatever team gives him a shot is going to be pleased. I expect him to have a long career in the NFL.

In contrast, I wouldn't even sign Will Hill as an UDFA.