Round 2 – No. 53
Jermaine Cunningham, DE
New England Patriots
Round 2 – No. 53
Height: 6’3″ – Weight: 266 lbs.
Age: 21 – Class: Senior
The Florida Gators tied a team record with three players selected in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft Thursday evening, but it took over 90 minutes Friday until one of their players received a phone call by a team the second round. That is when the New England Patriots submitted their draft card for defensive end Jermaine Cunningham, making him the No. 53 overall selection in the draft.
Missing the majority of the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine and the Gators’ first Pro Day with an injured shoulder, Cunningham impressed scouts at his semi-private outing and was all but guaranteed to go during the second day of the draft. His versatility as a 4-3 down lineman and 3-4 outside linebacker (where the Patriots will likely use him) made him attractive to a number of scouts.
“It doesn’t matter [what position I play],” Cunningham told OGGOA when we spoke on April 17. “When people ask me, I tell them that when it all comes down to it, I’m a football player. Put me at linebacker. Put me at defensive end. When the ball’s snapped, I’m just going to go for the person with the ball. Whatever position it is that the team [puts me at], all they need to know is that they are going to get a player who is going to go out there and work hard.”
He was called “one of the most polished/productive pass rushers in this draft” and a “real steal” by former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah, who OGGOA also interviewed last week.
Unconcerned with projections made by front office personnel, Cunningham remains confident in his ability to succeed at the next level.
“That’s where you go wrong – when you start to worry about what everybody else is saying,” he said. “I’ve heard some things. But, when it comes down to it, you just have to wait until your name is called.”
His name was called Friday by New England head coach Bill Belichick, who has a close personal relationship with Florida head coach Urban Meyer; Belichick would go on to add another former Gators defensive star to his roster later in the night.