Originally Published: June 26, 2013

Picking the best of the best

>You're putting together a team of the greatest Gators from past and present, but who do you pick? Where do you start? Do you want the spread option or maybe Steve Spurrier's fun-and-gun? Better choose, because you'll need the right playmakers. What about all the great defensive players? Where to begin? To answer these questions and more, GatorNation put together a panel of Florida football experts and made them draft their all-time Florida fantasy teams.

SportsNation

Who drafted the best all-time Gators team?

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    37%
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    41%
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    22%

Discuss (Total votes: 1,519)

Draft Order:
No. 1: Michael DiRocco
No. 2: Mike Pearson
No. 3: Edward Aschoff

Top picks by position:
QB: Tim Tebow
RB: Emmitt Smith
WR: Percy Harvin
OL: Lomas Brown
DE: Kevin Carter
DT: Brad Culpepper
LB: Wilber Marshall
CB: Joe Haden
S: Reggie Nelson

View the complete draft results.

DiRocco's team: Tebow at the top

By Mike DiRocco | GatorNation

It should be pretty obvious that I got the best of Edward Aschoff and Mike Pearson and compiled the best team, but here's a breakdown anyway &

Tim Tebow
AP Photo/Phil CoaleTwo national championships a Heisman and a litany of records made Tim Tebow an easy choice for the No. 1 overall selection.

Best pick
Landing linebacker Wilbur Marshall, regarded as the best defensive player in school history, in the third round was a steal. Because it was a snake draft, I had back-to-back picks to end the second and begin the third round, so I took cornerback Joe Haden and then Marshall, a two-time consensus All-American (1982-83) who still holds the school record with 58 career tackles for loss. I went with a 3-4 defense, so I needed fantastic linebackers, and he's the best the school has ever produced. People still rave about his performance in the 1982 game against USC in Gainesville (14 tackles), which followed his breakout 1981 season in which he set a school record with 11 sacks and 27 tackles for loss.

Must-have pick
Everyone automatically thinks of Ike Hilliard, Reidel Anthony, Jacquez Green and Percy Harvin when talking about great UF receivers. Somehow, nobody mentions Jabar Gaffney. But he tops them all when it comes to production. In two seasons, he caught 138 passes for 2,375 yards and 27 touchdowns. That's good enough to put him ninth on the schools all-time reception list, second on the yardage list and fourth on the TD list -- ahead of Hilliard, Anthony, Green and Harvin. Gaffney had 14 100-yard games (most in school history), including eight in 2001 and six in a row in 2000. Harvin might be the most dynamic player in school history, but Gaffney is the best receiver.

Best sleeper pick
Because Mike and Edward had already chosen two running backs before I chose my second, I could afford to wait until the end of the draft, where I snagged John L. Williams with my 22nd pick. You won't find his name high on any of the school's all-time rushing records, but you also won't find a better all-around back in school history. He played at the same time as Neal Anderson and managed only 2,409 yards rushing and 863 yards receiving in four years, but the Seattle Seahawks drafted him with the 15th overall pick in the first round of the 1986 NFL draft -- 12 picks ahead of Anderson.

Player I was most disappointed to miss out on
You'd think Mike Pearson, who was an All-American in 2001, would have drafted himself before any other offensive lineman. Nope. He took offensive tackle Lomas Brown in the fifth round -- one pick ahead of where I was targeting him. Not landing Brown was the biggest regret of my draft. He is one of the greatest players in school history whom no one ever talks about. He doesn't meet the criteria to be in UFs Ring of Honor, but he darn well should be.

Overall assessment
With the exception of losing out on Brown, I couldn't be happier with the team I drafted. I've got one of the best players in NCAA history in Tim Tebow, an offense loaded with weapons (Gaffney, Fred Taylor, Wes Chandler, Jack Jackson), and four of my five offensive linemen are first-team All-Americans. My defense includes four of the top five players on the school's all-time sack list (No. 1 Alex Brown, No. 2 Alonzo Johnson, No. 3 Huey Richardson and No. 5 Marshall), a lockdown corner (Joe Haden), the school's all-time interception leader (Fred Weary and a hard-hitting pair of safeties. Of the 24 players on the roster, 20 were first-team All-Americans -- five more than Ed's team and eight more than Mike's.

Mike DiRocco | email

ESPN Staff Writer

Pearson's team: Starts in the trenches

By Mike Pearson | Special to ESPN.com

Former UF offensive lineman Mike Pearson had the second overall pick. True to his nature, he loaded up on talented offensive and defensive linemen.

Best pick
I truly believe Rex Grossman was the purest passer in UF history and also should have been, in my opinion, the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy. He had the ability to end a game with one throw, always hitting his receivers in perfect stride. Rex made players around him better, which is what you look for in a QB.

Jack Youngblood
Malcolm Emmons/US PresswireHall of Fame defensive end Jack Youngblood anchors Team Pearson's defensive line.

What player did you have to get?
As an offensive lineman, I put a top priority on this group and had to have five of the great linemen in UF history. I needed some guys to open holes for my RBs and keep the QB clean. This is why I did not draft myself, because supposedly I couldn't run block. Across the board, all of these big road graters are impressive. Lomas Brown was my first lineman taken and was a Jacobs award winner his senior year at UF. Next was David Williams, who was a four-year starter and an All-American. Donnie Young was also a Jacobs award winner and a main cog on the line of the great Gators teams of the mid-'90s. Jeff Mitchell was the man in the middle from 1993 to '96 and was a huge part of four straight SEC titles. Mike Degory rounded out my line. He started 50 games in his career, tied for first all time.

Best sleeper pick
Keiwan Ratliff was a playmaking corner with great return skills. He even lined up at receiver for some plays. He was definitely a poor man's Charles Woodson. Ratliff was The Sporting News defensive player of the year in 2003 and would lead my DBs and keep anybody from going deep on us.

What player were you disappointed to miss out on?
Jason Odom was a two-time Jacobs award winner, and I tried to make a trade for him but was denied. He would have made my O-line truly the best ever.

Overall assessment
If you're a true football junkie, there is no denying the greatness of this team. I might not have the most All-Americans, but we all know that a great team needs great teammates, not a bunch of all-stars.

I surrounded my QB with the best receivers from three different decades. I have an impressive backfield duo and my line is stacked.

Defensively, I picked some pretty intimidating guys for my front four. I added some hard hitters at linebacker and safety and picked corners to make plays on the ball.

Aschoff team: Flashy stars all around

By Edward Aschoff | ESPN.com

SEC blogger Edward Aschoff picked last in the first round and went for flashy picks from the very beginning.

Best pick
While I'm pretty sure I got one of the best athletes to ever play the game of football in Percy Harvin with my first pick, I think my best one was getting Reggie Nelson in the seventh round. I mean, that was an absolute steal. Don't you remember the saying that while Nelson played at Florida water covered 70 percent of the planet, but he covered the remaining 30? You could play him all over the field and once the ball left a quarterback's hand, he was going to find it. Also, try to take a hit from him ... 'cause you might get embarrassed.

Danny Wuerffel
US PresswireDespite some second thoughts, Team Aschoff got one of college football's most accomplished QBs in Danny Wuerffel.

What player did you want to be certain to get?
Well, that's easy. I know for a fact that DiRocco cried and whined about getting the first pick so that he could draft his boy Tebow, but there was no way I wasn't taking Harvin first. He still is one of the most dynamic players I've ever seen play at the college level. You could line him up anywhere and he'd make play after play. And when he touched the ball, he only knew how to go 100 mph, while also being able to cut on a dime. He finished his Florida career with nearly 4,000 yards rushing and receiving, averaged 11.6 yards per touch and totaled 32 touchdowns.

Best sleeper pick
I'm going with one of the hardest-working running backs in Florida history -- Earnest Graham. If not for that sprained ankle against Florida State back in 2001, imagine what his legacy would have been. He finished his career with 10 100-yard rushing games, 603 rushing attempts, 3,065 rushing yards and 33 rushing touchdowns. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry during his career and was one of the toughest backs to go through UF.

What player were you most disappointed to miss out on?
I'm still kicking myself over not getting Emmitt Smith with my second pick. I had back-to-back picks and could have had one of the best backfields of all time if I had drafted Smith after Harvin. Instead, I completely blanked and took Danny Wuerffel instead of UF's all-time leading rusher. I could have taken Wuerffel any other time, but I spaced out. Smith was a man-child when he was on campus, but I let him slip through my fingers and land on Mike Pearson's plate. It's cool, though, because I got him back later when I drafted Pearson in the 14th round.

Overall assessment
I'd be lying if I said I didn't need help from Florida's media guide to look up some of these guys. My age really showed with some of picks, but I feel like some of the new-school Gators are just as good as the old guys. I had 15 first-team All-Americans, the SEC's all-time leader in touchdown passes (Wuerffel with 114), two 2,000-yard receivers (Reidel Anthony and Jacquez Green), two lockdown corners (Lito Sheppard and Janoris Jenkins) and sacks masters Clifford Charlton, Derrick Harvey and Carlos Dunlap. And I dare anyone to get through my offensive line. I might have the most athletic team out there in this draft. Correction ... I do.

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