2019 NFL Draft picks: Strange showing as two Florida Gators selected on Day 2

By Adam Silverstein
April 26, 2019
2019 NFL Draft picks: Strange showing as two Florida Gators selected on Day 2

Image Credit: ESPN Images

The 2019 NFL Draft has not been going as expected for the former Florida Gators eligible for selection. After not seeing a player selected in the first round on Thursday for the first time since 2012, Florida had just two — instead of the projected three– players picked by the time Day 2 of the draft concluded on Friday.

Junior offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor, projected to be a top-15 pick on Thursday, was selected with the No. 35 overall pick in the draft once Round 2 commenced. Taylor was chosen by the Jacksonville Jaguars, which selected a Gators player for the second straight year and third time in five seasons.

Concerns over an offseason knee injury saw Taylor slide, but he ultimately wound up with a team in Jacksonville that needs his skill set and was reportedly interested in his services early in Round 1. The talent is there with Taylor. Though his weight will always be an issue worth monitoring — he was over 400 pounds in high school before slimming down throughout his collegiate career — he is a true road grader outside and is excellent in pass protection. He will need to improve in the running game, but teams believe they can teach that in a single training camp.

Next off the board out of Florida was junior defensive end Jachai Polite, who was selected with the No. 68 overall pick in Round 3 of the draft by the New York Jets. It is the second time in three seasons that the Jets selected a Gators defender on Day 2 of the draft as Polite will join safety Marcus Maye in New York.

Depending who you ask, Polite may have had the worst NFL Combine performance of all-time due to his interview sessions. Some teams apparently took him off their boards entirely. Still, talent won out in the end, and after a stellar college career, Polite displayed the motor and talent necessary to be a Day 2 selection. Polite had a nation-best six forced fumbles last season with 17.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks … all despite not playing as many snaps as starters on the team.

Surprisingly not selected on Friday was junior defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, who was projected to be a Round 2 selection and the second Florida player drafted due to Polite’s character concerns.

With Taylor (projected first, drafted in second), Polite (projected second, drafted in third) and Gardner-Johnson (projected second, not yet drafted) all going later than expected, it is clear that the Gators’ juniors — a record five players with remaining eligibility declared for the draft — either did not receive the best advice this cycle or failed to live up to expectations during workouts and interviews.

Day 3 of the NFL Draft continues Saturday with four additional rounds remaining. Gardner-Johnson and junior linebacker Vosean Joseph are sure-fire selections. Other potential draftees include redshirt junior running back Jordan Scarlett, senior offensive linemen Martez Ivey and Fred Johnson, and senior defensive end Cece Jefferson.


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