First round for Florida WR Antonio Callaway? Why it’s a long shot

Antonio Callaway
Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

When I wrote last week about Florida’s five players most likely to be selected in the 2018 NFL draft, one player generated the most feedback.

Many emailed or contacted me via Twitter to say that wide receiver Antonio Callaway would be a first-rounder. He was third on my list, behind left tackle Martez Ivey and cornerback Duke Dawson. I believe Callaway is a second- or third round prospect.

Callaway’s fans got a boost recently when ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay released his “way too early 2018 mock draft.” McShay has Baltimore taking Callaway with the 21st-overall pick.

McShay’s comments: “Callaway comes with character concerns – he was accused of sexual assault and admitted to using drugs – but he’s freakishly talented. I’m interested to see how he handles himself both on and off the field this season.” McShay also acknowledged this: “I have not studied tape on most of these players.”

OK, fair enough.

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There is reason to believe Callaway could have an outstanding season for the Gators. He has 89 receptions for 1,399 yards and seven touchdowns in his two seasons, and has been been productive despite playing with four quarterbacks: Will Grier, Treon Harris, Luke Del Rio and Austin Appleby.

Callaway has also scored in almost every way possible – rushing, passing, kick return and punt return; he is the first UF player to score in those four ways.

In addition, Callaway went through his first spring practice this year. He arrived during the summer before his true freshman season, and the investigation McShay mentions kept him away from the team last spring.

Florida coach Jim McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier noted how Callaway had taken a more professional approach to the game this spring.

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