Florida defenders entering draft

NEW ORLEANS -- Florida lost to Louisville in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Wednesday night, and then the third-ranked Gators lost two of their best players.

Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and safety Matt Elam both said they were forgoing their senior seasons to enter the NFL draft. The 6-foot-3, 303-pound Floyd is No. 24 on Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest Big Board and is projected to be a first-round pick.

"I've been playing football for a lot of years, so this is what football players get ready for and this is what we prepare to get to, so I'm ready," Floyd said.

Floyd had 46 tackles, three sacks and a team-high 13 tackles for loss this season. He spent his first two seasons at Florida playing defensive end but moved inside to tackle this season and flourished. He was disruptive on the field all season -- including on special teams, where he blocked two kicks -- and was an All-SEC first-team selection.

The 5-10, 202-pound Elam was a first-team All-American this season after finishing second on the team with 76 tackles, including 11 against Louisville. He had four interceptions and five pass breakups. Kiper ranks Elam as the top junior safety.

"I had three great years," Elam said. "I did all I can for the team. I played my heart out. Now it's time to take care of the family."

Two other Gators -- defensive end Dominique Easley and tight end Jordan Reed -- said they had yet to make up their mind about returning for their final season. Reed is Kiper's No. 4 junior tight end.