NEPD Staff Writer: Stephen Sheehan
While the Vanderbilt Commodores aren’t known as a football factory, this year’s squad features several key defensive starters who have a chance to make it to the next level.
The Gators have speed on offense, but this year’s draft class is underwhelming compared to what we’ve become accustomed to.
Here are the players we’ll be looking at this weekend:
Chris Marve, LB, #13, Vanderbilt
Extremely productive and physical leader. Has been a playmaker throughout his career, racking up eight sacks and eight forced fumbles to go along with 367 tackles. Has prototypical size for a 3-4 ILB at 6-feet, 242 pounds. Step slow in the speed department but could be two-down run defender. Currently a borderline draftable prospect.
Casey Hayward, CB, #19, Vanderbilt
One of the nation’s premier ballhawks. Has already recorded five interceptions through eight games after picking off six as a junior. Doesn’t possess elite speed or size, but is simply a playmaker. Rated as a mid-round pick.
Sean Richardson, S, #21, Vanderbilt
Great size for a safety at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds to go along with above-average speed. Physical hitter who led the team in tackles in 2010. Needs to make more plays on the ball. Currently rated as a late-round pick.
Rob Lohr, DT, #84, Vanderbilt
Good athlete for the position. Typical size at 6-foot-4, 290 pounds. Has been productive as a pass rusher, registering nine sacks since last season. Still has a year of eligibility, but someone to keep on the radar for 2013.
John Brantley, QB, #12, Florida
Had a very good first half against Georgia after returning from ankle injury. Shown big improvements playing under Charlie Weis. Doesn’t have great arm strength or mobility. Will need strong finish to warrant draft pick.
Chris Rainey, RB, #1, Florida
Elite speed and agility, but very limited by his size. Started season strong, but has slowed down considerably as he’s had to carry the load behind a struggling offensive line. More of a specialty player at the next level. Mid-to-late round pick.
Jeff Demps, RB, #28, Florida
Hasn’t enjoyed the senior year most people expected as he’s been limited by an ankle injury. Showed his signature speed on a 99-yard kickoff return against Georgia last week. Is thicker than Rainey, but has had durability issues. Mid-to-late round pick.
Jaye Howard, DT, #6, Florida
Another Gator who hasn’t made many plays recently. Has good size and solid first step, but too often disappears in games. Has been overshadowed by talented sophomores Shariff Floyd and Dominique Easley especially as a pass rusher.