Will Florida schools be shut out of NFL draft’s first round?

Three recent mock drafts feature zero state players chosen in the first round. Zero.
Former Gators cornerback Kaiir Elam is one of Florida's top NFL draft prospects.
Former Gators cornerback Kaiir Elam is one of Florida's top NFL draft prospects. [ JOHN RAOUX | AP ]
Published Jan. 24, 2022|Updated Jan. 24, 2022

With the Bucs’ season over, we can start turning our attention to the NFL draft. And if three early prognostications are correct, it will be a historically dry one for Florida’s college football teams, at least at the top.

Recent mock drafts from ESPN’s Mel Kiper, the NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah and Pro Football Focus’ Trevor Sikkema all have zero players from state schools being drafted in the first round. Zero.

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Florida has only been shut out of the first round once since 1980. That was in 2012, when the Sunshine State had no players chosen in the first or second round.

These mock drafts are, of course, fluid. The Senior Bowl is still a week and a half away. The scouting combine is almost a month after that. Pro days haven’t happened, either. Those performances will cause evaluations and projections to change.

It’s also worth noting that Florida does have potential first-round talent. The Athletic had former Florida State edge rusher Jermaine Johnson going in the first round (No. 26 overall to the Dolphins) and former Gators cornerback Kaiir Elam headed to the Jaguars with the first pick of Round 2. It wouldn’t be a shock if either or both went in the first 32 picks in April.

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But these early mock drafts are still striking to see. Former Florida coach Jim McElwain has a potential first-round pick, Central Michigan offensive lineman Bernhard Raimann. Louisiana offensive lineman Max Mitchell showed up on one mock draft, too, so Billy Napier’s former school might have more first-round picks than his current one. Mississippi quarterback Matt Corral (a former UF commit) and North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell (a former FSU commit) are also likely first-rounders, adding a little more sting.

It’s far too early to know if Florida’s schools will be shut out of the first round this year. But the fact that it’s possible is another sign of just how bleak things are in the state after a historically bad season.

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