Former Florida linebacker Brandon Siler spoke with the Gator Nation Football Podcast about the NFL future for Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone.
Jim McElwain’s Gators have a bye week after taking down Missouri during homecoming last weekend, 40-14. And the break comes at a much-needed time for Florida.
Outside linebacker Jarrad Davis is recovering from a severely sprained ankle, and the Gators are preparing for their annual meeting with rival Georgia in Jacksonville for the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.
On the flip side, Alex Anzalone, another Florida starting linebacker, is relatively healthy after battling multiple injuries during his college career. The two have combined for 88 total tackles, seven tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks on the season.
Former Gators linebacker Brandon Siler joined the Gator Nation Football Podcast to discuss the play of Davis and Anzalone, offering nothing but praise for them.
“I mean, I love both of those guys, man. They both get after it — high intensity, a lot of energy,” Siler said of Davis and Anzalone. “You know, I’m a big energy guy. If you’re giving a lot of energy, I think that’s something that a linebacker should have. It’s not like other spots on the football field. Linebackers, you’re the guy that, when things get a little thick, you look over and see a guy that looks like a warrior is ready to go and ready to fight. And then you get on his bandwagon and fight with him. I think both of those guys are doing that well.”
If he had to pick one of them, though, Siler would side with the guy who’s wearing No. 40 on the Florida defense — just as he did so many years ago.
“Jarrad Davis is my favorite player on the team. He wears my number. [He has] all of the rest of the stuff that comes with being a great linebacker, like he is. He’s a good one, man,” Siler said.
Davis is projected to be a first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. His stock has been rising during the past year, and it seems as though Davis could go as high as No. 20 overall — he could go higher depending on how he performs in the NFL Combine and in the team interviews.
Anzalone has some work to do. Right now, he would have to work his way up from a late-round grade. As mentioned, he hasn’t seen the field too much over the last few years because of injuries, but regardless, Siler thinks it’s impossible to project how anyone could fare in the pros.
“It’s hard to tell [which] guys will do what … I’ve seen some guys play years and years in the NFL, and I didn’t even think they’d start at Florida. And then I’ve seen guys that had a great [college] career and you thought was one of the greatest players ever [in college], and they don’t even make a team, or they don’t even play but a few years in the league,” he said.
Siler, who was a key member of the 2007 BCS National Championship team, was a seventh-round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft at pick No. 240 by the San Diego Chargers. He stayed with San Diego until 2010 and then played with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2011 and 2012.
He believes an NFL career has less to do with the player and more to do with the team and atmosphere he’s being drafted into.
“I think a lot of that is circumstantial … You’ve gotta’ be extremely fortunate to play in the NFL and to have a long career. A lot of the other things gotta’ line up for you: being drafted up under the right coach, into the right system, all of that, having the right owner, who believes in you and takes a chance on you.” Siler said. “It’s not just, you plug a guy in– you know, there’s probably some places that I could have went and had a two-year career, and there’s other places I could have had a 12-year career. That’s just how it is, man.”
He’s right. It is impossible to tell how a guy will transition from college to the NFL. But if recent history tells us anything, it’s that Davis — and possibly Anzalone — will have a solid chance of being drafted.
Florida has had 27 players drafted within the last four years, and 15 of them were defensive players. Of those 15, six were first-round picks. No one knows how Davis and Anzalone will do once they put on an NFL uniform, but Gators fans will at least rest easy knowing they’re likely to see them both shake Roger Goodell’s hand on draft day.