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Florida teams make solid picks, take some chances

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There are no brainers in the NFL draft and there are cases of rolling the dice. Florida’s three NFL teams took some risks over the first three rounds, but they also hit the draft lottery.

Thursday was all about the tale of Miami selecting Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil with the 13th overall pick. Tunsil’s history of NCAA rule violations in college and the photo of him smoking something with a bong dropped him from a top-five pick into Miami’s lap.

Yes, Miami rolled the dice, but a woeful running game and a sack-prone offensive line made it worth the risk. The analysis of Friday’s picks of Baylor cornerback Xavien Howard and Alabama running back Kenyan Drake (the guy not named Derrick Henry), will have to wait for game action.

The Jacksonville Jaguars got what seems to be a sure thing in Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey in the first round. The Jags then took a chance on UCLA star linebacker Myles Jack in the second round. Jack’s ability is unquestioned, but a devastating knee injury last season brought some risk to anyone selecting him.

Jack was concerned enough about his draft status to take out an insurance policy providing him with benefits if he fell below the 45th pick on Friday. There is good news and bad news for both the Jags and the insurance company.

Jacksonville got a first-round level player with the fifth pick (36th overall) in the second round and the insurance company did not have to pay out. The bad news is Jack may need more surgery on the knee at some point. The Jags took an outstanding pass rusher, Maryland’s Yannick Ngakoue, in the third round.

Tampa Bay also got a seemingly “can’t miss” product in Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III to shore up their secondary. Teams do not normally take kickers in the first two rounds, but Florida State’s Roberto Aguayo, the most accurate kicker in NCAA history, seems a safe selection for the second round.

Third round pick Noah Spence, a pass-rushing defensive end from Eastern Kentucky, does carry risks. The first line of his draft profile on NFL.com says “his judgment off the field will be foremost on the minds of NFL scouts…”

Spence is a first round talent, but failing drug tests and being banned from the Big 10 (Urban Meyer originally brought him to Ohio State) dropped his stock significantly. The Bucs clearly rolled the dice.

Among Florida’s three NFL teams, Miami took the greatest risk by taking a chance with their first round pick. Tampa Bay and Jacksonville, with solid first round selections, could afford gambles down the line.

The draft concludes on Saturday with rounds four through seven.

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DRAFT NOTES: After five Florida players were taken in the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday, only one other was taken besides Aguayo on Friday. The Chicago Bears took Florida defensive end Jonathan Bullard with their third round selection.

 

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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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