The NFL Draft is an experience that every college player transitioning into a professional athlete dreams of. It only happens once, and it only happens to a certain few. This year was a special one, considering all the adversity that these star athletes had to go through in order to not only play the season, but to be selected one out of the 259 chosen. Florida, was a standout for draftees this year. Alabama had a record number of players selected in 2021, but the state of Florida, showed how much gifted talent you can find across the state.
Let’s start with the Florida gators, as they had eight players selected from the 2020 squad. The first gator taken off the board was at selection number four. Kyle Pitts, the phenom tight end with an unbelievable wingspan, was chosen by the Atlanta Falcons. Call Pitts is instant offense. The only way to describe him is a matchup nightmare. Already drawn comparisons to Travis Kelce, Tony Gonzalez, and a much faster Zach Ertz, Pitts will be a difference maker for the Atlanta Falcon’s offense.
The next player chosen from the Gators was shifty wide receiver Kadarius Toney, at #20. Toney could be this year’s Tyreek Hill. Considering that it was a luxury pic, because New York traded with Chicago to move back to number 20, he isn’t necessarily a special teams, or wide receiver. He’s a little bit of everything. The New York Giants acquired Kenny Golladay in the offseason, and already had Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton as their wide receiver arsenal. With Saquon Barkley returning from an ACL tear, the New York offense needs to be more explosive. Toney, will not only provide a spark, but could add some extra sizzle in the city that never sleeps.
The quarterback of the Florida Gators was the next Gator off the board. With the last pick in the second round at number 64, the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Kyle Trask. Trask finds himself in an excellent situation to inherit a team once Tom Brady retires. Once in a fight with Felipe Franks for the starting position as a Florida Gator, he now sits behind a legend, biding his time and given a playbook to learn and adapt to the NFL culture. Not only Tom Brady, but Tampa Bay needed a successor. Hopefully Trask is up to the task.
The next Florida Gator selected was in the fourth round at number 136. Marco Wilson is a defensive back, that can surprise you with his skill set. But he’s also smart. For what he lacks in speed, he makes up an intelligence and craftiness. He joins an Arizona Cardinals defense, that is starving for playmakers and defensive backs who can handle the monsters that one could find in the NFC West.
In round five, pick 149, a kicker came off the board. Evan McPherson was an excellent kicker for the Florida Gators. Although 2020 was a challenging year for him, considering that he missed five pics, he finishes his collegiate career 51 of 60 in field goal attempts, and only One missed extra point after 150 tries. He joins a Cincinnati Bengals squad that is looking to put up more points with Joe Burrow and his former LSU running mate Ja’Marr Chase.
Miami didn’t do bad as well when it came to draftees in the 2021 NFL draft. The “U” made people pay attention to their ferocious defense, and playmakers on the outside. With talent to be found in bunches in the state of florida, it would be foolish to forget about the men who played at Coral Gables. Two University of Miami defensive players were selected in the first round.
In the first round, at pick number 18, the Miami Dolphins selected Jaelan Phillips. Phillips is a linebacker who can play The edge rusher position. He has an uncanny knack to sniff out the football, and is deceptively strong for his size (6’6 266). He played a key role in Miami success, and he gets to stay in Miami to now play on Sundays instead of Saturdays.
His former running mate at the U, Gregory Rousseau, was selected number 31 in the first round by the Buffalo Bills. A team that was just one game away from playing in the Super Bowl, Rosso is the answer that they are looking for to increase pressure on AFC quarterbacks. Rousseau has a body type similar to Jason Pierre Paul of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He’s long, lengthy, and agile off of the edge. He is a perfect fit for a McDermott scheme to terrorize the quarterbacks of the AFC East.
Not all stories from draft day are happy. But some do have a happy ending. Marvin Wilson, a defensive tackle originally from Houston Texas, played for the Florida Seminoles. He was a force on the defensive side of the ball; often demanding double teams and extra attention from the offensive lineman that he faced. He decided to come back for the 2020 season instead of being a first round pick in 2019. That cost him quite a bit of money, as Marvin Wilson went undrafted in the 2021 NFL Draft. However, he found the light at the end of his tunnel, by becoming an undrafted gem. The Cleveland Browns snatched him quick after Saturday’s proceedings. $192,000 may not seem much for an NFL rookie, but he’ll definitely get a contract with his play and actions on the field. Nothing needs to be said.
The 2021 NFL season offers a lot of surprise, and shock value for those who are used to the regular 16 game schedule. Florida players have been spread across the country, including Florida Safety Sean Davis, who is now an Indianapolis Colt ((Round 5, pick 165). No one needs to look far to find the talent that the Sunshine State bears fruit to.
feature photo: Screen Fish