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NFL Draft

How Florida’s Draft-Eligible Prospects Performed vs Ole Miss

  • The Draft Network
  • September 26, 2020
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With the SEC kickoff this weekend, all eyes were on the first big game as the Florida Gators traveled to Ole Miss to face the Rebels in the highly anticipated debut of head coach Lane Kiffin. It was the Gators offense that stole the show, as Kyle Trask and Kyle Pitts had career days during a 51-35 victory over Ole Miss to open their 2020 campaigns.

Kyle Trask, Quarterback

Size: 6-foot-5, 240, Redshirt Senior

One of the biggest stars of the team’s season debut was Trask, as he finished the contest 30-of-42 for 416 yards and six touchdowns. Surpassing his career high in the first half with four touchdown passes, Trask continued to build off of a promising 2019 season that saw him take over as the starter following the third game after now-Arkansas QB Feleipe Franks suffered a season-ending ankle injury. Trask recorded a 8-2 record and finished with 

Voted as a first-team All-SEC selection, he proved to be worthy of the hype during his first game of 2020. After getting off to a slow start during the first drive that included a couple of Emory Jones designed runs, Trask never would never look back after getting into a groove. During the opening stages of the game, he targeted Kyle Pitts early and often. During the first two third-down situations, he showed faith in the big tight end as one ended in a conversion and the other drew a pass interference call, which led to the two connecting on a simple one-yard touchdown.

After their first scoring connection of the year, Trask began to spread the wealth as Ole Miss began to bracket Pitts. Showing the tight end extra attention, Trask threw the ball to seven other targets alone in the first half—one of the others being highly-touted Ohio State transfer Trevon Grimes. The two went on to connect on a 22-yard back shoulder throw. The redshirt senior thrower displayed arm strength and ball placement as he completed the pass to the blind spot of the cornerback. That point seemed to have woken up the Gators offense as they went on a tear following the Trask-Grimes hookup.

In what was a near flawless afternoon, some of Trask’s previous warts from a season ago still did show. Trask can be classified as a slightly average mover, but he showed great awareness in the pocket, but many of those opportunities were created on his own due to bailing in the pocket prematurely. Consistently giving concepts the needed time to develop was a constant problem for him in 2019. While the pocket patience has improved slightly, there’s still more time to be had within the pocket than his mental state currently provides. 

Another area that he must continue to develop in is in his lower half and his torque strength into throws. What you notice is that as targets begin to become further down the field, the more his ball tends to hang in the air and drop out of the sky exponentially prior to getting to its intended points. Having an average arm, Trask must be on-time with hid throws because of the looping arcs on them. Through his brief time as a starter, it has proven to be a formula that has worked for him, but on the next level it can be a flaw that is woefully exposed.

Overall, in a draft class that seems to have a massive hole at the QB4 spot behind what potentially could be Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Trey Lance, the Florida quarterback got off to a strong start to develop a stranglehold on that positioning. Trask displayed lots of pocket poise, touch on throws, and accuracy to all three levels of the field. There’s obviously plenty of time left in the season, but the next step of his development seems to be on track. His six touchdown passes tied an SEC record for most in a season opener. 

Kyle Pitts, Tight End

Size: 6-foot-6, 240, Junior

The versatile tight end was the exact definition of the word against Ole Miss. Showing off his ability to play from multiple alignments, he lined up in-line, in the slot, and even on the perimeter on occasions to create mismatches against outside corners. In the first half alone, Pitts was targeted six times. During those chances, he accumulated five catches for 75 yards and two touchdowns. 

For as good as he was in the first half, coming out of the locker room, he recorded a standout 71-yard touchdown on a vertical seam route. Facing man-to-man coverage on the route, he was forced to fight through the grabbing arms of the safety and he proved to be up to the task. Fighting pressure with pressure, he unraveled from the handsy attempt to finish the play with a touchdown that enabled him to show off his speed in the open field.

What made Pitts’ afternoon so special is that he was able to show off every part of what makes him an intriguing draft prospect. A “matchup nightmare” is what he will be commonly described as. The Gators offense utilized him on nakeds, bootlegs, and designed passing concepts where he lined up in different spots in formations, which should make offensive coordinators at the next level salivate over what he could become in the NFL.

I’ve often used the comparison to Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller. Finishing with eight catches for 180 yards and four touchdowns against Ole Miss, Pitts was able to show exactly why. Arguably the most impressive play of the game came on his last score as he skied over double coverage to haul in a 17-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone that was eventually ruled a catch. 

Kadarius Toney, Wide Receiver

Size: 6-foot-0, 193, Senior

Toney is labeled as a wide receiver, but he’s proven to be much more than that throughout his career with the Gators. Coming to Gainesville as a quarterback, he quickly transitioned elsewhere. With his dynamic skill set, it’s easy to see why the team moved him to where he could help in other spots. A position-less player, there are some scouts that believe his best position may be at running back.

Even though Trask and Pitts were the headliners, Toney had an impressive afternoon as he recorded seven touches for 114 total yards and a touchdown. Meant to be treated as a player that can be used as a receiver and running back, he also brings immense value as a return specialist. Projected to be Day 3 selection, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a team take a chance on Toney in the third or fourth round given the explosiveness that he brings to the table in many different facets. 

Trevon Grimes, Wide Receiver

Size: 6-foot-4, 218, Senior

Prior to last season, there was a lot of excitement about the Ohio State transfer. Even though his numbers weren’t as good as imagined (33 catches, 491 yards, and three touchdowns), he showed some signs of what made him such a highly touted five-star recruit. During the summer assessment of him, I thought he played slow and didn't see the game as clearly as he should have, but being that he still was recovering from a torn ACL and adjusting to a new playbook, an argument can be made to back up those claims. In an expanded role, Grimes looked to be much more twitchy and he attacked the ball cleanly on a 22-yard back-shoulder touchdown throw from Trask. 

Grimes is definitely a prospect to keep an eye on as he could get better as he continues to get more exposure on the outside. While he may struggle to be a consistent separator, he has value in the red zone as a big target that Trask can continue to use as a security blanket against smaller matchups on the perimeter.

Ventrell Miller, Linebacker

Size: 6-foot-1, 230, Junior

During my summer assessment of Miller, he seemed to be a SAM linebacker only that struggled to see the game outside of the box. Prior to the season, he committed to losing weight as he looked like a much looser athlete. Making plays all over the field, he finished the game with a team-high 14 tackles. While a bulk of his production will always come as a downhill mover against the run, he showed much more life in coverage.

Mainly a spot dropper a season ago—where he would simply drop to certain areas of grass because that’s how plays were designed—he seemed to have more awareness as to what was happening around him. The area that Miller must continue to improve is his tackling consistency. Because of his vertical aggression, he often failed to come to balance and wrap up. Him frequently bouncing off ball-carriers happens way too often. 

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