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5 biggest NFL Draft Day 1 surprises and what to look for in Day 2

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There were a few unexpected things that cropped up during Thursday’s first round of the NFL Draft. Some are more impactful than others, but from a Floridian’s point of view, these stood out.

Dalvin Cook’s free fall from the first round. Some of the mock drafts said this could happen, but we thought his character scrapes from a younger age would not hurt him that much. Many thought Cook would go to the Tampa Bay Bucs, but GM Todd Licht pointed out character was a big reason Tampa Bay was “beyond excited” to get Alabama’s O.J. Howard with the 19th pick.

The drop of Alabama players. Five members of the 2016 Crimson Tide squad were expected to go in the first round. Most dropped significantly on the draft board. One of those five, offensive tackle Cam Robinson, will join Cook on Friday night waiting to hear their names called.

More tight ends selected than running backs.  Four running backs were included in several mock drafts, while two tight ends were solid. Cook and Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon were not chosen to join the party, headed by LSU’s Leonard Fournette (Jacksonville) and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey (Carolina). Mississippi’s Evan Engram (NY Giants) became the third tight end chosen, joining Howard and Miami’s (Tight End U) David Njoku, who went to Cleveland with the 29th pick.

The saga surrounding North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky. Perhaps the Chicago Bears looked at game film of UNC vs. Florida State in 2016, where Trubisky threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-35 last-second victory. The real story is the fleecing the San Francisco 49ers, and their rookie general manager and former Bucs’ legend John Lynch, perpetrated on the Bears. Several thought Lynch was not up to the job, but he has proven them wrong.

Gareon Conley. The surprise is categorized depending on a fan’s outlook. Conley, a star in the Ohio State defensive backfield, stands accused of rape. Projected to be a strong first-round pick, Conley slipped to the 24th selection by the Raiders. Some were surprised he fell that far, while others thought the accusations would have him joining Cook and Robinson in the second round.

Looking at Friday’s second and third rounds, what should observers be looking for? Here are five in no particular order.

Where will Dalvin Cook and Cam Robinson finally wind up? Neither should have to wait too long to find out.

Will DeMarcus Walker hear his name called? Probably. The Florida State defensive lineman is slotted in either late second round or early third round mocks. ESPN guru Mel Kiper, Jr. actually has Walker ahead of Cook in the overall “best player available” category, so he could be a day 2 surprise.

What other Gators are standing by? Cornerback Teez Tabor, fellow cornerback Quincy Wilson, safety Marcus Maye and linebacker Alex Anzalone should hear their names called Friday. Do not expect to hear the name of defensive lineman Caleb Brantley called. He has the talent, but his arrest for punching a woman will not fly with NFL teams.

How about USF running back Marlon Mack? The mock drafts generally have Mack going in the third round.

What other Florida college players may be drafted on Friday? We could hear UCF defensive back Shaquill Griffin’s name called in the third round. Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya is hovering between a second and third round pick. Florida Atlantic defensive end Trey Hendrickson may also be a Friday selectee.


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

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