It took longer than expected, but Florida offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor finally emerged from the green room at the NFL draft.
Taylor will stay in the state after the Jaguars traded up one spot to draft him with the third pick of the second round (No. 35 overall) Friday night. He’s the fourth former UF player to be drafted by Jacksonville over the last seven years and the first Gators drafted in this class.
Taylor had been viewed as a first-round prospect – some mock drafts even had him going to the Jags with the No. 7 overall pick – for months. But he slid into the second round, reportedly because of concerns about his knee. Taylor was also bothered by a nagging hamstring injury during the pre-draft process.
Regardless of the wait, Friday was still the culmination of an unlikely rise for the Cocoa native.
Four years ago, he was a 384-pound recruit trying to slim down enough to earn a Gators offer. He did, eventually, and dropped 50 pounds along the way.
He made an immediate impact at UF, where he started 35 games (33 at right tackle) over his three-year career before skipping his senior season to enter the draft.
NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah called the 6-foot-5, 314-pound Taylor a “nasty guy” with the most physicality of the draft’s top-tier offensive linemen.
UCF defensive tackle Trysten Hill was the next state player off the board. The Cowboys selected the 6-foot-2, 315-pound prospect at No. 58 overall. Hill recorded 36 tackles in 12 games (one start) as a junior last season.