In Rounds 4-7 of the 2020 NFL Draft, five more Florida Football alumni were selected to join the ranks of the pro football world.
In Round 4, running back La’Mical Perine was called to the New York Jets as their 5th pick, No. 120 overall. Perine will add to the Jets’ arsenal, especially in the rushing yards department.
We got another weapon.
Welcome to the squad, @LP_deucedeuce!! ✈️
— New York Jets (@nyjets) April 25, 2020
Perine went down in history as ninth-best in Florida program history for career rushing and receiving yards. He’s also the only Gator in history to score at least one receiving and rushing touchdown in multiple bowl games. He ended his career with 2,485 rushing yards on 494 carries and 22 touchdowns and made 72 receptions for 674 yards, catching eight touchdowns in his career. A total of 30 touchdowns in his collegiate career means Perine averaged more than one touchdown every other game.
Skill-wise, Perine’s speed is an asset, with quick bursts off the catch to get through narrow gaps closing in on him. He works his angles and can use his fast footwork to catch defenders in a feint. His vision is also a strength, finding his line and having a complete tree of routes to choose from in his arsenal.
Football is in his blood, too. Cousin Samaje Perine is a running back for the Miami Dolphins, and cousin Myles Jack plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars as a linebacker. Perine will join classmate Jabari Zuniga, who was drafted by the Jets yesterday, and former teammate Marcus Maye, part of the draft class of 2017.
In Round 6, wide receiver Freddie Swain was chosen as the Seattle Seahawks’ 7th pick at No. 214 overall. His punt returns would be a great asset to any team, and he’s got potential to add to the Seahawks’ special teams.
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) April 25, 2020
Swain’s biggest season at Florida was 2018, where he was 2nd in the SEC for punt returns and punt return touchdowns. His biggest moment was an 85-yard punt return touchdown against Colorado State, which actually tied him for the 8th-longest return by an FBS player that year. He was also one of only five FBS players in 2018 with at least five touchdown receptions and a punt return average of more than 10.0 yards. He didn’t exactly slack off in his senior year either – Swain set new career highs in receptions, yards and touchdowns and led Florida receivers in receiving touchdowns with seven total in 2019.
Under the coaching of Billy Gonzales, Swain really honed his technique, and he’s proven he can run smooth routes underneath the slot, even in his freshman season when he played through a torn labrum. His captaincy at Florida is further proof of his character and leadership, and his 4.46s time on the 40-yard dash at the combine certainly helped him as well.
It’s been a minute since the Seahawks have picked up a Gator in the draft. The last time it happened was 2012, when Seattle drafted DT Jaye Howard in Round 4.
Florida sent another wide receiver to the NFL in Round 7 in Tyrie Cleveland, as he was drafted by the Denver Broncos as their 9th pick, No. 252 overall. Cleveland’s strong secondary running game and strong hands will give the Broncos another great weapon for Drew Lock to use next season.
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) April 25, 2020
Cleveland came out swinging in his first year, seeing action in 11 of 13 games as a true freshman. He set a new record for second-longest touchdown passing play in UF history, second only to a record set in 1977, and the longest play by a true freshman in program history. As a sophomore, he kept pushing, totaling 22 catches in the 2017 season for a team-best 410 yards. As a junior, he was a nominee for the Preseason Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award and joined the Gators’ punt team as a gunner, recording five tackles. He was more of a depth option in his senior season, but instead made his impact on special teams, with five kickoff returns and three tackles.
Cleveland’s strength as a receiver comes in his vertical and his secondary run. His high reach allows him to play above the rim, and his vertical jump at the combine was 39.5 inches. He’s also a guy who knows how to find his opening, and his long speed is solid – has to be for the kinds of plays he’s famous for.
Cleveland joins the ranks of Gators who became Broncos, with guys like C Max Garcia in 2015 and QB Tim Tebow in 2010.