After an opening round of the NFL Draft on Thursday that saw only one player from a state school in Florida taken, Friday night more than made up for it.
Kudos to FSU defensive end Brian Burns, who went to Carolina in the opening round. However, it took awhile for him to be joined by a “Sunshine State” player.
Starting at #35 at the top of the second round and continuing all the way through the end of the third round in Nashville, players from all over the state began to fly off the board.
It’s started with the Jaguars making a trade with the Oakland Raiders to hop into that 35th overall spot and grab Gators right tackle Jawaan Taylor. We had written about Taylor lasting all the way through the first round because of questions about his knee, etc. but he dispelled that rumor after being taken by Jacksonville as simply “false reports” trying to hurt his draft stock. Taylor has a legit chance to start in Jacksonville, immediately.
The next state player to be taken was defensive tackle Trysten Hill of UCF going to the Dallas Cowboys with the 58th pick. He’s known more as a run-stopper and was obviously part of UCF perfect season and Peach Bowl win in 2017. Then, he also helped anchor the defense for another perfect regular season and AAC Championship victory this past year. The Knights got into the Fiesta Bowl before losing to LSU.
Hill has to be thrilled to be part of the most recognizable brand arguably in all of North American sports.
Once the third round began, we finally saw Florida Gators pass-rushing defensive end Jachai Polite taken. That was by the New York Jets with the 4th (68 overall) pick.
— #TakeFlight (@nyjets) April 27, 2019
Polite, who led the nation with six forced fumbles and had 11 sacks in the toughest conference in America, will now be part of a Jets Squad that is looking to rebound after several dismal seasons, including firing coach Todd Bowles early January.
6 picks after Polite, the Buffalo Bills grabbed FAU running back Devin “Motor” Singletary with the 74th overall pick. Singletary, who ran for more yards and more touchdowns than any running back in all of FBS football the last two years will join a crowded backfield with the Bills. That includes, Pro Bowl veterans LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore and recently signed former Jaguars backup running back T.J. Yeldon.
Obviously, the Miami Hurricanes and USF Bulls didn’t have a player’s name called in the first three rounds. However, for all the schools, there’s more drafting Saturday.
Dolphins and Jaguars may be very interested in deep WR class
It’s never too soon to start talking about possible premium draft picks coming in April for the NFL’s 2020 draft. And, for the Dolphins and the Jaguars they may both very well be interested in what appears to be the deepest position this season.
NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah has been touting the 20/20 receiving draft class for several weeks now. And, that included his appearance on the NFL Total Access show Thursday night:
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) February 14, 2020
“I started scouting with the Baltimore Ravens in 2003. This is bar none, the deepest, best wide receiver class that I’ve seen, since I began scouting.”
To be more specific, Jeremiah has laid out the six receivers that he has right now in his top 25 of overall players The 2020 draft to be held in Las Vegas at the end of April. Those include: Oklahoma Speedster CeeDee Lamb, Alabama stud Jerry Jeudy, maybe the fastest player in the entire draft tide receiver Henry Ruggs III, National Champion LSU lanky speedster Justin Jefferson, Arizona State physical, big receiver Brandon Aiyuk and Colorado junior eligible Laviska Shenault.
As Jeremiah makes clear, not all of these receivers may end up going in the first round and there are several other names besides on his list that are probably NFL caliber who will still be around in the third round or later and yet make an impact on Sundays.
And that brings us to both the Dolphins and the Jaguars who are likely in need, especially early I’ll try to get one of these Playmakers.
In 2019, the Dolphins saw DeVante Parker develop into the possible number one yearly receiver that they believed he would become when they took him in the first round in 2015. Miami also has high hopes for un-drafted big receiver Preston Williams who was showing promise until suffering a torn ACL in midseason last year. However, other than that, Miami doesn’t have much else to hang their hat on.
As for Jacksonville, clearly in 2019 former second round pick D.J. Chark demonstrated that he has potential to be a number one receiver year in and year out. He showed an early connection with backup rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew, and Chark finished the season with 1,008 yards on 73 catches and 8 scores. Jacksonville also got good output from another guy with speed in Chris Conley.
But, from there the talent level drops off in North Florida.
So while there are plenty of factors and variables, like which receivers are when you are coming up for selection, there will apparently be no shortage of players to choose from that can make an impact on night three or even day three of the NFL Draft.
Prominent state names among NFL Combine invitees
A sign that the NFL Draft process is well underway is when the NFL publicizes their official list of players who will be attending the 2020 Scouting Combine at the end of the month.
— NFL (@NFL) February 7, 2020
Some of the most notable names include Heisman Trophy and National Championship winning LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, along with other potential number 1 draft picks at that position, Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama and Justin Herbert of Oregon. There was one state invitee at the QB position and that’s James Morgan, the FIU quarterback.
The running back position has Heisman finalist Jonathan Edwards and also, has several familiar names to state fans led by FSU leading rusher, Cam Akers.
Akers (photo above), who declared early for the 2020 draft giving up his final season of eligibility, is joined by Miami running back and receiving specialist DeeJay Dallas. Also invited was Florida under-sized power back LaMical Perine.
The wide receiver position is particularly deep with invitees by the NFL, and that includes the Gators trio of Tyrie Cleveland, Van Jefferson and Freddie Swain. Also, invited is outstanding UCF wide out Gabe Davis, who gave up his final year of eligibility in Orlando and will be at the combine.
Arguably the best tight end in the draft is Harrison Bryant of Florida Atlantic who led the position nationally in catches and yardage. Bryant could be a first round pick in late April. Also on the Combine list is USF tight end, Mitchell Wilcox.
On the defensive side of the ball is the leading pass-rushing sack artist from college football in 2019 in Chase Young of Ohio State. Miami’s Jonathan Garvin was another defensive lineman added to the mix. Next, Hurricanes linebackers Shaq Quarterman and teammate Michael Pinckney were among the linebacker invitees from Friday.
At defensive back, UCF’s Neville Clark is joined by Florida’s C.J. Henderson, FAU’s James Pierre and Florida State’s Stanford Samuels.
The combine is a five-day process allowing interviews for players with the 32 teams and then, individual position group workouts and 40 yard dash times that will take place at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium.
The NFL Network still holds the exclusive rights to televise the workouts, which has now expanded to over 50 hours of coverage for that week