Posted by ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel
In case you were looking for another reason to pick Florida to defend its national championship, the NFL provided a big one last weekend. The Gators lost only three players in the draft and only two of them -- wide receivers Percy Harvin (first round, to Minnesota) and Louis Murphy (fourth, to Oakland) -- suited up. Tight end Cornelius Ingram, who suffered a knee injury in the preseason, went in the fifth round to Philadelphia.
In other words, the draft provides one more illustration of how much talent will return to Gainesville in August.
If you're scoring at home, the returnees include a Heisman winner (quarterback Tim Tebow) a 2008 All-American (linebacker Brandon Spikes), an All-SEC kick returner (Brandon James), four second-team All-SEC defenders (linemen Jermaine Cunningham and Carlos Dunlap, backs Joe Haden and Ahmad Black) and every other starter on the defense.
In the 16 years since the NFL reduced the draft to seven rounds, only three other national champions have had fewer than five players taken. USC lost four players in the 2004 draft, Florida lost four in the 1997 draft. The fewest were taken in 2001, when NFL teams selected only two Oklahoma Sooners.
The Trojans, AP national champs in 2003, repeated in 2004. The 1997 Gators finished fourth, and the 2001 Sooners finished sixth. Will Gators fans be satisfied with a top-six finish in 2009?
No, I didn't think so, either.
By the way, the national champion that had the most players selected in the seven-round era is the 2001 Miami Hurricanes with 11.