TAMPA — On Thursday, the NFL draft's first round came and went without any picks from Florida schools, something that hadn't happened since 1980. The drought continued Friday for another round, with the state's programs silent until Central Florida cornerback Josh Robinson went to the Vikings with the third pick of the third round, 66th overall.
How odd is it for the state not to have a pick in the first two rounds? A year ago, the state had six picks in the first two rounds, and in 2010, there were 10. On Friday, California punter Brian Anger was taken before any player from Florida, Florida State or Miami. It's hard to blame the dropoff on the recent coaching changes at all three schools — their talented 2008 recruiting classes, which yielded this year's fourth-year seniors, were ranked among the top 10 nationally: third (UF), fifth (Miami) and ninth (FSU).
The state's three traditional powers didn't have a player called until the Dolphins took Hurricanes defensive end Olivier Vernon with the 72nd pick. Vernon had only 1½ sacks as a junior in 2011, limited to six games by an NCAA suspension relating to accepting impermissible benefits from booster Nevin Shapiro. He had six sacks as a sophomore, second in the ACC. Hurricanes linebacker Sean Spence, a first-team All-ACC selection who finished his four-year career with 47 tackles for loss, went 14 picks later to the Steelers.
Florida International had its highest draft pick in its short history as receiver T.Y. Hilton went late in the third to the Colts, giving top pick Andrew Luck a promising target who can also help Indianapolis in the return game.
There was a former Florida standout taken in cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who went to the Rams in the second round out of Division II North Alabama after off-field problems led to his dismissal from the Gators.
In Robinson, Minnesota has another talented player to help the NFL's worst pass defense in 2011 (34 passing touchdowns allowed). The Vikings passed on LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne with the No. 4 overall pick but used a late first-rounder on Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith. Robinson had the fastest 40-yard time of any player at the NFL combine in February, officially 4.33 seconds.
The state's first-round silence was historic, but there were dubious individual honors as well — Florida didn't have a pick in the first three rounds for the first time since 1993, this after the Gators had at least one first-round pick in each of the previous five drafts. Today might be quiet for UF as well, with running back/receiver Chris Rainey and defensive end Jaye Howard as the best bets to be drafted.
The last time FSU went three rounds without a pick? That was 1987, when the first Seminole taken was defensive tackle Gerald Nichols in Round 7.
As for Miami, the Hurricanes should have a busy day today, with big names such as running back Lamar Miller, defensive tackle Marcus Forston and receiver Tommy Streeter still available.