Welcome back to the daily grind! The wrap of New Years means we are coming down the home stretch of bowl season, capped next Monday by the BCS National Championship Game. Tonight we have the Sugar Bowl, featuring the Florida Gators and Louisville Cardinals. These notes come courtesy of Trevor Woods (@Woods49ers).
Gator SS Matt Elam will be drafted in the 1st round and is the top SS in the draft. Elam, an AP All-American and All SEC First Team selection, racked up 65 tackles (10 for a loss) this season and hauled in 4 interceptions At 5-10 and 202 lbs, his measurables are almost the same as Donte Whitner, who is 5-10 and 210 lbs. Elam, like Whitner, is a hard hitter and flies to the ball. Wherever he goes in this draft, be sure to use the hit stick with him on Madden 14, he hits hard. I don't think the 49ers will be drafting a safety with their first pick, but no one thought A.J. Jenkins was going to be the Niners first last year, so I'm not going to say no way they draft a safety with what is hopefully pick number 32.
Florida DT Sharrif Floyd is a Junior, but is expected to declare for the draft shortly after the Sugar Bowl. Floyd is projected as a second round pick, and is a really good run stopper. Floyd has 11 tackles for a loss this season, and not only is that a good statistic for a DT, it shows that Floyd has the strength and quickness to get into opposing teams backfields. I think Floyd would be able to help an NFL team year one, but at the very least he would be a nice developmental pick for a team. As the Niners have shown, they are willing to draft a player then work to develop him (Aldon Smith, AJ Jenkins, Bruce Miller). The 49ers will certainly be trying to add quality depth along the defensive line in the draft, it is more a question of what round.
A lot of the Gators success on offense can be accredited to RB Mike Gillislee. While I don't see anything out of him that makes you jump out of your seat, he's been an effective back this season. Gillislee has gone over 100 yards five times this season, and found the end zone 11 times (10 rushing, 1 receiving). He isn't a very fast rusher, but he has had some long runs this season, with 46, 45, 38, and 37 yard gains. Gillislee is projected to go in the 3rd-4th round. He'll have a chance to silence any critics or reservations tonight and in the Senior Bowl.
Florida K Caleb Sturgis is someone to look out for in this game. He's considered one of the best kickers in college football, and was an AP and Sports Illustrated All-American the past two seasons. Sturgis is 4 for 5 from 40-49 yards this season and has nailed all three 50+ yarders he's attempted this season. A two time finalist for the Lou Groza Award for best kicker, Sturgis holds the Florida record with most field goals made over 50 yards with 8. The 49es will be taking a glance at every top kicker in this draft class, and Sturgis is one of the best coming out. Sturgis will also be playing in the East-West Shrine Game on January 13th.
Louisville doesn't have much to provide as far as prospects go for the 2013 class, but they do have a nice CB in Adrian Bushell. Bushell will be a name being called in the 4th-5th round. He can play any type of coverage and I feel that he will have no trouble making the jump to the next level. His speed isn't flashy (4.49 40 yard dash), but it's fast enough to be an effective cornerback. What teams also like about him is that he has played solid special teams in his college career, with kick return touchdowns and blocked field goals to his credit. The 49ers may like his versatility and the fact he can play multiple coverages and end up drafting him in April. I see the 49ers drafting at least two corners in the draft or
The Cardinals also have a center worth looking at tonight in Mario Benavides. Benavides will be a late round pick but he has had a good senior season in which he showed good agility for an offensive lineman. At times seeing him running down field laying a big hit on a defender reminds me of Joe Staley. I'm not saying he's Staley, but Benavides has good mobility for a big boy. I'm not sold that he's strong enough to play on Sundays, as NFL defensive lineman could have their way with him, but he could be worth a late flier.