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NFL Draft: second and third round good for state collegians

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The second and third rounds of of the NFL Draft on Friday night saw plenty of action for players from Florida universities.

It took two rounds and 41 picks, but Dalvin Cook has finally found an NFL home. The Minnesota Vikings traded up with the Cincinnati Bengals to acquire Florida State’s all-time leading rusher.

“We started making some calls once we knew he was sliding into the second day,” said Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman. “We felt he was just too talented of a player not to take a swing and try to go up and get him. He was too talented to pass up.”

Cook was projected to be a first-round selection, but Thursday night’s first round left him and Florida State fans disappointed. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were said to be interested, but when Alabama tight end was still on the board at the 19th pick, General Manager Todd Licht said the Bucs were “beyond excited” to have the chance to select him.

With the departure of veteran All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson, Cook should have an opportunity to make a solid contribution to the Vikings in his rookie season. With the expected return of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who missed the entire 2016 season with a knee injury, Minnesota will have some solid offensive weapons.

In his three seasons, Cook rushed for 4,464 yards (including bowl games), and 46 touchdowns. His total yards from scrimmage, including receiving yards, was 5,399 yards and 48 touchdowns.

Ten minutes before Cook was selected, the New York Jets tabbed Florida safety Marcus Maye. He was the second Gator chosen, following Detroit’s selection of linebacker Jarrad Davis with the 21st pick.

During four years in Gainesville, Maye had 121 tackles, including 6 ½ for losses. He forced 6 fumbles. He missed the final four games of the 2016 season, but was still a second team all-SEC selection.

“I feel great; I’m so happy now,” Maye told newyorkjets.com. “There’s a bunch of emotions running through. It’s a dream come true and just to be part of the Jets family is definitely an honor.”

The Indianapolis Colts took cornerback Quincy Wilson with the 14th pick of the second round and 46th selection overall. Wilson had three interceptions this season, but raised eyebrows when fewer than 40 passes thrown his way were completed.

Wilson was a second team all-SEC selection in 2016.

Florida State defensive end DeMarcus Walker went to the Denver Broncos at number 19 of the second round and 51 overall. In 2016 he was a first team All-American selection by the Walter Camp Foundation.

In 2016 he had 68 tackles, including 21.5 for loss. His 16 sacks were second in major college football.

Two picks later, the Detroit Lions decided to hold a reunion of Gator defenders with the selection of cornerback Teez Tabor. He will join the Lions’ top selection, linebacker Jarrad Davis.

Tabor had four interceptions in 2016 and broke up 14 other passes. He was a first team all-SEC selection.

The third round saw four other players from around Florida chosen. The New Orleans Saints chose Florida linebacker Alex Anzalone with the 12th pick of round and 76th overall, while Central Florida defensive back Shaquill Griffin was chosen by the Seattle Seahawks.

Florida International tight end Jonnu Smith was the choice of the Tennessee Titans and the 100th player chosen overall. Florida Atlantic linebacker Trey Hendrickson was taken by the New Orleans Saints with the 39th pick of the third round.

 

 

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Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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