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Gators lead Florida schools with 7 draft picks

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The NFL Draft concluded on Saturday. From the top pick of California’s Jared Goff by the Rams, to Southern Mississippi’s Kalan Reed by Tennessee, 253 players were chosen over the three days. The final selection is traditionally crowned “Mr. Irrelevant.”

The draft is a time where schools other than traditional football powers send along top quality professional talent. Harvard, Minnesota, Indiana, William & Mary and many others have high draft choices or multiple players heading to the pro ranks.

This year, powerhouse Ohio State had 12 of their players selected, including five in the first round. That is three times as many Miami and Florida State combined. The Seminoles and Hurricanes each had two players selected.

Florida, on the other hand, sent more players to NFL training camps this year than any Florida school. Seven Gators were drafted.

All three had a player taken in the first round – Florida had two – and all were defensive secondary players.

No other Florida school had a player drafted. For programs like South Florida, who has sent good talent to the NFL in recent years, players like Marlon Mack and Quinton Flowers will likely hear their names called in upcoming drafts.

Gator Coach Jim McElwain will have some work to do on the defensive side of the ball in 2016. Of Florida’s seven draft picks, five were from the Gators’ outstanding defensive unit.

Besides first rounders Vernon Hargreaves III, and Keanu Neal, defensive ends Jonathan Bullard and Alex McCalister are off to Chicago and Philadelphia, respectively. Linebacker Antonio Morrison was drafted by Indianapolis.

Jalen Ramsey and Roberto Aguayo were the only Seminoles taken. Next year will likely see running back Dalvin Cook taken high in the first round.

Miami’s Artie Burns was joined by cornerback Deon Bush during Saturday’s fourth round. Burns is headed to Pittsburgh, while Bush was taken by the Chicago Bears. The Hurricanes are expected to significantly upgrade their talent level under new Coach Mark Richt.

Now that the draft is over, mini-camps start in a few weeks and full training camps open in July.

 

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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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