The third day of the NFL draft has been busy with state players. Here are five observations:
1. The Gators continue to produce defensive backs.
The latest two were cornerback Marco Wilson (Cardinals, No. 136 overall) and safety Shawn Davis (Colts, No. 165).
Wilson had a prolific, and interesting, Florida career. He became the fourth true freshman to start at cornerback in Week 1 and was one of the SEC’s top newcomers in 2017. His on-field success was overshadowed last year by his decision to throw an opponent’s shoe in the closing minutes against LSU.
The blunder and ensuing penalty led to the Tigers’ winning field goal and a deflating home loss. But he helped himself with a great pro day, headlined by a 43 ½ inch vertical leap that would have been the second-best performance at last year’s combine.
Wilson and Davis became the 10th and 11th UF defensive backs chosen in the past six drafts.
2. Florida State had more talent than its record has shown.
The Seminoles had three players drafted early on Day 3. Edge rushers Janarius Robinson (Vikings, No. 134) and Joshua Kaindoh (Chiefs, No. 144) were both fourth-round picks, and safety Hamsah Nasirildeen was the second pick of the sixth round to the Jets.
Three other former FSU players were drafted this week after transferring elsewhere: Wesley Chapel native Tre’ McKitty (who transferred to Georgia), former Alabama offensive lineman Landon Dickerson and Marshall offensive tackle Josh Ball (who went to the Cowboys in the fourth round).
The last two are especially noteworthy considering how much FSU’s offensive line has struggled over the past few years. But Dickerson could never stay healthy in Tallahassee, and Ball was removed from the team after being accused of dating violence. Talent isn’t everything.
3. There’s a Pinellas County meetup in Los Angeles.
UCF receiver/tight end Jacob Harris was one of the most interesting prospects in the draft. The Palm Harbor University alumnus was a former college soccer recruit who went to football late and blossomed with the Knights (eight touchdowns, 539 receiving yards last season).
By going to the Rams with the No. 141 overall pick, he’ll join another Pinellas County product: tight end Tyler Higbee, an East Lake High alumnus.
4. Jim McElwain deserves some credit.
McElwain wasn’t viewed as a great recruiter for the Gators, but recent drafts have shown that he evaluated talent well. Ten players from his 2016 recruiting class have been drafted, including quarterback Kyle Trask (Bucs, No. 64) and offensive lineman Stone Forsythe (Seahawks, No. 208) and edge rusher Jordan Smith (Jaguars, No. 121).
Smith was a four-star signee before leaving the program as one of the nine Gators involved in the 2017 credit-card fraud scandal. At least two other players from that class, receiver Joshua Hammond and kicker Eddy Pineiro, have made NFL rosters.
5. Bradenton’s IMG Academy has become a major factor.
The prep football factory began making an impact on the college game years ago, and now it’s starting to affect the NFL. Six IMG products were drafted this weekend, including Kaindoh and Bucs’ third-round pick Robert Hainsey. Don’t be surprised if IMG’s numbers rise in the coming years.
Other notable selections Saturday included: Miami tight end Brevin Jordan (Texans, No. 147), UF kicker Evan McPherson (Bengals, No. 149), UF defensive lineman Tedarrell Slaton (Packers, No. 173), Miami edge rusher Quincy Roche (Steelers, No. 216), UCF defensive back Tay Gowan (Cardinals, No. 223) and UCF receiver Tre Nixon (Patriots, No. 242).
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