Projecting the Florida Gators’ offensive depth chart

GAINESVILLE, Fla.  — There aren’t many questions left to answer for Florida’s offense. Just the big one.  

The Gators’ three-man quarterback competition remains the story of the preseason and, at some point, maybe Florida coach Jim McElwain will tell everybody who is taking the first snaps Sept. 2 against Michigan.

But the rest of the offense seems pretty settled … and stacked with talent.

The only other question on that side of the ball is the depth along the offensive line. Beyond Florida’s top six linemen, there are some concerns — or at least unknowns. Then again, T.J. McCoy was a total unknown last year when he came in as the third-string center and he never relinquished the job.

Anyway, here’s a projection for Florida’s offensive depth chart less than two weeks from that much anticipated opener in Arlington, Texas.

(Look for the projected defensive depth chart Tuesday.)

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Florida quarterbacks Malik Zaire (right) and Feleipe Franks at practice. (Jordan McPherson/SEC Country)

Quarterback

  • 1a. Malik Zaire, redshirt senior
  • 1b. Feleipe Franks, redshirt freshman
  • 1c. Luke Del Rio, redshirt junior

Until McElwain has an answer at this spot, it’s mostly guesswork here.

Zaire seemed like the overwhelming favorite  — at least among outside perspectives — at the start of camp. But by all accounts, it’s been a very tight race, with Franks rising to the challenge and Del Rio looking healthy again after the knee and dual shoulder injuries that submarined his 2016 season.

This is merely a hunch, but Zaire’s experience  — albeit limited — in starting and winning a couple big games at Notre Dame (against LSU and Texas) and his veteran poise might give the coaches some added comfort with such a marquee matchup looming in that first game. Also, his elusiveness and ability to create plays on the ground is an extra dynamic for an offense that needs every extra advantage it can get.

That said, it would not be a surprise at this point if Franks gets the nod based on the preseason he’s had. And while Del Rio is the underdog in this group, he’s not out of the picture. He has the trust of the coaches with his command of the offense, and he’s eager to prove that he is healthy and is a different quarterback than the one who struggled in his last four starts of 2016.

Running back

  • 1. Jordan Scarlett, junior
  • 2. Lamical Perine, sophomore
  • 3. Malik Davis, freshman

No questions at the top here. Scarlett has earned his chance to be the lead back, has made it clear he would prefer a large share of the carries and looks primed to become just the third Florida running back in 13 seasons to eclipse 1,000 yards on the ground.

Perine is a terrific second option who should build on his promising freshman season, and Davis has made a strong impression in his first camp with the Gators.

Senior Mark Thompson hasn’t been heard from much this preseason, but he’s available if needed as well.

The depth here is very good.

Wide receiver 

  • 1. Tyrie Cleveland, sophomore
  • 2. Freddie Swain, sophomore
  • 3. Daquon Green, freshman

While he still has to prove it, there’s every reason to believe a breakout season is coming from Cleveland after he showed mere flashes of his potential as a freshman. With (expected) improved quarterback play and a full year in the system, Cleveland should deliver on the expectations that accompanied him to Gainesville.

Green is a guy to keep an eye on after an impressive first camp with the Gators. McElwain complimented the newcomer’s performance away from the ball as well and showing a commitment to blocking coupled with his natural pass-catching abilities will only further help earn Green some opportunities.

No, we haven’t forgotten James Robinson, the other freshman wide receiver. He’s still getting up to speed with the offense, and it’s not unreasonable to think he too could be a factor at some point this fall.

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Kadarius Toney has created some buzz this preseason while moving from quarterback to slot receiver. (Jordan McPherson/SEC Country)

Slot receiver

  • 1. Brandon Powell, senior
  • 2a. Dre Massey, redshirt junior
  • 2a. Kadarius Toney, freshman

Powell is a senior who has played in a lot of games at Florida and who has the respect and trust of his teammates and coaches. He is not purely limited to the slot, but that’s his most natural fit.

Massey and Toney, meanwhile, are the X-factors, the versatile playmakers who could be used in creative ways this fall.

This isn’t a traditional 3-deep depth chart as Massey and Toney should be very involved.

Wide receiver  

  • 1. Antonio Callaway, junior ( *suspended for season opener)
  • 2. Josh Hammond, sophomore
  • 3. Daquon Green, freshman

Florida won’t have Callaway for the Michigan game, so Josh Hammond should be the guy the Gators look to in filling that void, and he has some upside of his own. Remember the 46-yard reception he hauled in down the right sideline during the spring game?

Again, keep an eye on Green as well.

Tight end 

  • 1. DeAndre Goolsby, senior
  • 2. C’yontai Lewis, redshirt junior
  • 3. Kemore Gamble, freshman

Goolsby and Lewis are well established by now. Both can be effective playmakers in the passing game and Lewis is a plus blocker.

The only question here is how much Florida will get out of the position. There seems to be greater potential with these guys.

Gamble is in a walking boot and his status for the first game is unknown, but at some point there’s a good chance he earns an opportunity this fall. His combination of blocking and ability to make plays downfield makes him a high-upside addition to this group.

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Martez Ivey (73) and Jawaan Taylor (65) are expected to anchor Florida’s offensive line from the tackle spots. (Jordan McPherson/SEC Country)

Left tackle

  • 1. Martez Ivey, junior
  • 2. Kadeem Telfort, freshman ( *suspended for season opener)

It’s hard enough to confidently figure out a 2-deep for the offensive line, so we won’t go any further than that.

Ivey’s move to his natural position at left tackle is one of several reasons why the Gators are so optimistic about the line this fall. He should be a tone-setter for Florida.

Telfort won’t be available the first game, but the 6-foot-6, 318-pound freshman figures to be a key reserve.

Junior Tyler Jordan has gotten reps at tackle this preseason too, and could be pressed into action at one of the tackle spots if Ivey needs to come out against Michigan. Presumably, Jawaan Taylor would slide to the left side in that scenario.

Left guard

  • 1. Brett Heggie, redshirt freshman
  • 2. Tyler Jordan, junior

Heggie, officially (conservatively?) listed at 6-foot-3, 317 pounds, looks physically ready to slide into the starting lineup this fall. He hasn’t played a game yet for Florida so he still has plenty to prove, but he looks like a promising addition to the unit.

Expect to see a lot of Jordan on this list. He’s the jack of all trades along the line with the ability to play at any spot. He’s one of Florida’s top six offensive linemen so it stands to reason if he does not end up winning a starting job he’ll get the first call off the bench where he’s needed.

Redshirt junior Kavaris Harkless started at left guard in the SEC Championship Game. He and sophomore Nick Buchanan are other options here.

Center

  • 1. T.J. McCoy, redshirt sophomore
  • 2. Tyler Jordan, junior

McCoy seized the starting job down the stretch last season and, by all accounts, the rest of his linemates feed off his energy. He spent the offseason committed to film study trying to improve his reads and communication, and should be even better this year.

Yep, Jordan again. He was actually the second-string center last season and started the South Carolina game at that spot before an early injury cleared the way for McCoy to step in and claim the job.

Right guard

  • 1. Fred Johnson, junior
  • 2. Tyler Jordan, junior

These two split starts at right guard last season and it looks like Johnson will come out of the preseason as the starter here.

Johnson got a late start in his football career and has had raw potential since arriving at Florida and being thrust into action as a freshman. With two full years of SEC experience, he will try to take his game to the next level in 2017.

Redshirt junior Antonio Riles, who missed all of last season due to injury, is another option here if needed.

Right tackle

  • 1. Jawaan Taylor, sophomore
  • 2. Tyler Jordan, junior

Taylor was a breakout star as a freshman last season and, combined with Ivey, makes for a very solid bookend on the right side. Look for him to open some major running lanes with his signature pancake blocks this fall.

The post Projecting the Florida Gators’ offensive depth chart appeared first on SEC Country.

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