The NFL draft took place this weekend and all five underclassmen that elected to enter the draft portal were called. The three day event that is traditionally held in New York City, moved to Nashville this year and saw a record breaking turnout.
The five juniors declaring is a record number for the Gators, and while things may not have happened exactly as expected, each of them were selected during the draft. No Florida players were selected in the first round, breaking an eight year streak.
While some may view this as a disappointment, whiffing in the first round has been historically good for the Gators. Since 1994, Florida has had eight draft cycles without a number one pick. In seven of those cycles, the Gators finished twelfth or better in the AP Poll in the following season.
The second day of the draft, saw two Gators taken off the board, in Jawaan Taylor (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Jachai Polite (New York Jets). Taylor saw his stock fall drastically due to an off-season knee injury. As a result, the Jaguars are getting an incredible value, and so are the Jets for that matter.
Probably the most surprising aspect of this year’s draft is that Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, who is still celebrating being a new father, was selected so late. Despite being the highest graded player in the slot and a much higher projection, Gardner-Johnson wasn’t selected until the fourth round when the New Orleans Saints called his number. With his versatility, Gardner-Johnson will have opportunities to fill in the gaps at strong safety and cornerback, for a secondary that is already one the league’s best.
“It’s been a long weekend. Yeah, (expected to go a lot higher),” Gardner-Johnson said. “But it’s all in God’s plan. I’m not worried about it now. I got drafted, my name got called and now it’s time to go out there and put my head down and work.”
Vosean Joseph was the next Gator to be selected and he becomes the sixth Florida linebacker to be drafted in the past six years. Joseph will be playing his Sundays in Buffalo, where the Bills hope that the talented rookie will bolster strength and depth in the position group.
“Whatever they want me to play, I’ll be up to the challenge to go out there and do what I can to help the team win,” said Joseph. “I’m somebody who’s going to come in and compete at every level, try to give my all and contribute to the team in any way I can. They’re getting someone who really loves the game and wants to be exceptional in everything he does on and off the field.”
Running back, Jordan Scarlett will be reunited with former teammate, Will Grier, as both joined the Carolina Panthers roster. Both players redeemed themselves after scandals impacted their early collegiate careers.
After the Houston Texans drafted Jabar Gaffney in 2002, Carolina became the last remaining NFL franchise to have never drafted a player from the University of Florida. Scarlett became the Panthers first-ever Gator draftee with the 16th pick of the fifth round, and the No. 154 overall choice.
No Gator seniors were selected in the draft, including CeCe Jefferson and Martez Ivey, both former five star recruits.
Note: DE Khari Clark (Jacksonville) and OL Fred Johnson (Pittsburgh) signed as undrafted free agents. CeCe Jefferson (Seattle) and Tyler Jordan (Atlanta) were invited to tryouts.
As of this publishing, OL Martez Ivey and TE C’yontai Lewis remain unclaimed.