Posted: 7:44 p.m. Saturday, April 27, 2013
By Andy Hutchins
Four Florida Gators were taken on Saturday, the final day of the 2013 NFL Draft, bringing the Gators' total to eight, one off Florida's modern record. And all four went to in-state schools.
Jelani Jenkins was picked by the Miami Dolphins with the 104th pick early in the fourth round, and the fleet linebacker will join a corps that was bolstered by Georgia product Dannell Ellerbee in free agency. If Jenkins' speed and quickness translate to pass coverage at the NFL level, he could have a productive career in an increasingly pass-happy league.
He'll be joined in Miami by two other Gators taken in the fifth round: Near the end of it, the Dolphins selected both running back Mike Gillislee and kicker Caleb Sturgis, giving them a possible replacement for Reggie Bush and a likely competitor for Dan Carpenter at kicker. Those picks also helped give the Dolphins the NFL lead for Gators on a roster, with four (Pro Bowler Mike Pouncey was already a Dolphin, and was Florida's last first-round pick before this year) — and a trade between the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers that sent Jeff Demps to the Bucs gave the Dolphins sole possession of that distinction, as the Patriots now have "just" three Florida players on their roster.
Gillislee and Sturgis were just two of three Florida players taken in a six-pick stretch spanning the end of the the fifth and beginning of the sixth round. Josh Evans, selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the first pick of the sixth round, was the third, and follows in Reggie Nelson's footsteps to the immediate northeast as a Florida safety drafted by the Jaguars. Evans will surely hope his Jacksonville career more closely resembles that of fellow Gator-turned-Jag Fred Taylor, though, as Nelson had up-and-down years as a Jaguar before being traded to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Florida's eight picks are one shy of the record for Florida draft picks in a seven-round NFL draft, set in 2007 and matched in 2010, but there's still hope for undrafted Florida players — the full list: Frankie Hammond, Omarius Hines, Omar Hunter, Lerentee McCray, Xavier Nixon, Earl Okine, and James Wilson — to catch on as undrafted free agents. Deonte Thompson took that very route in 2012, and all he ended up earning was a roster spot with the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
We'll have more about the 2013 NFL Draft on Monday, including how these Gators fit with their new teams and what it means for Florida's recruiting, but, for now: Which picks do you like? Are you surprised by when any of the Gators were taken, or where they're going?