It was a blur of activity over the course of Thursday-Saturday nights in the NFL Draft and for players from the state of Florida, some heard their name early in the process, and others had to wait later. Some, much later.
Here now is our quick look back at what we feel were the important points from the selection process.
The first: S Derwin James of FSU
James was taken with the 17th pick overall by the L.A. Chargers. After some debate about whether he would last outside of the top 10, James fell right to an AFC West team in need. James comes from a long list of Florida State defenders who have made impacts at the next level. Let’s see how quickly he can help in Hollywood.
The most impressive: UCF with four players in the top 150 picks
After speculation that he might start falling due to character concerns, CB Mike Hughes was taken 30th by the Vikings. Then with WR Tre’Quan Smith (91st to the Saints) pictured above, Jordan Aikens (98th to the Texans) and then, Shaquem Griffin (141 to the Seahawks) clearly showed that they belong with the power programs in the state in terms of talent. As in, the NFL thinks so, too.
Out of the group, it might be the most fascinating to see if Tre’Quan Smith comes in and flourishes with the Sean Payton/Drew Brees offense, first.
The most shocking: WR Antonio Callaway, Florida
We had wondered after his flunked combine test for Marijuana, if talented Callaway would free fall all the way out of the draft. Well, leave it to the always adventurous and comical Browns to take the risk. They drafted the disgraced Gators receiver with the fifth pick of round 4 (#105). Cleveland has another new GM, John Dorsey, and he and his staff had some extra picks to work with, and they made the most of it.
Still, Callaway is a mystery, in that he never set foot on the practice, much less game, field for the Gators last season. The Browns are rooting for him to be motivated to prove the doubters wrong.
Smartest decision: DT Taven Bryan, Florida, turning pro
Bryan ends up a first round pick (great money) with a team/roster on the rise in Jacksonville. He has a great chance to succeed without pressure on his to made a huge impact in year one. It could not have worked out much better for him, including thousands of Gator fans who will be in his corner just north into Duval County on Sundays this fall.
Dumbest decision: WR Auden Tate, FSU, turning pro
After running a slow time in the forty at the NFL Combine and being less than stellar in his workouts, it held true that Tate didn’t go early, or even, middle of the draft. Instead, he went in the 7th round to the Bengals at pick 253. At that point, he was probably better off not getting drafted that late in the final round and being able to pick his situation as a rookie free agent. Alas, the Bengals grabbed him very, very late. Tate might have been better served to come work with Willie Taggart and staff in Tallahassee instead this season.
Best chance for a later round pick to flourish: WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, USF
He has great size 6’5 and speed to burn. And, having a Hall of Famer in Aaron Rodgers to throw to you means Valdes-Scantling (5th round, #174) gets a great chance to improve. And, other weapons like WR’s DeVante Adams, and Radall Cobb will help take some of the pressure off the bigger Valdes-Scantling to get open and succeed. And, hey, Marquez gets to keep his green and gold scheme, too.
Just some of who did well, and whom can do it better starting, now, with their new club.
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