Florida Gators in 2017 NFL Draft: LB Jarrad Davis goes No. 21 overall to Detroit Lions

By Adam Silverstein
April 28, 2017
Florida Gators in 2017 NFL Draft: LB Jarrad Davis goes No. 21 overall to Detroit Lions

Image Credit: ESPN Images

When the Detroit Lions selected linebacker Jarrad Davis with the No. 21 overall selection in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft on Thursday, they ended an extended streak.

Davis became the first Florida Gators player drafted by the Lions since offensive tackle Lomas Brown went No. 6 overall in 1985. That worked out pretty well for Brown, and by all indications, Davis is set for a tremendous career in Detroit.

A two-star prospect out of high school, Davis let his play do the talking over his career at Florida. Despite dealing with multiple injuries throughout his career, Davis toughed it out and was there for the Gators when they needed him. He even returned for his senior season and improved his draft stock by as many as two full rounds despite lower leg injuries keeping him out the latter portion of the season.

When Davis had an opportunity to perform for scouts at the NFL Combine and Florida Pro Day ahead of the draft, he shined. His athleticism is top-tier, and he projects as an inside linebacker at the next level who can hit gaps and blitz as well as he pursues and tackles.

Davis should start for the Lions from day one, and most scouts expect him to be a Pro Bowl-caliber player as long as he can stay healthy.

“I didn’t envision myself being in the draft until I committed to Florida,” Davis said on a post-draft conference call. “I knew once I came to a school like that I really wanted to be one of those elite guys, be able to have an opportunity to put myself in this position.

“Being able to watch it, it almost felt like it was unreal in my younger years. It almost felt unreachable. As the years went on, the harder I worked and the older I got, the closer I got to this point. It became more and more real to me. With the work I put in, I know I helped out myself a lot to get into this position I’m in.”

This draft marks the third time in the last seven years that the Gators only had a single player selected in the first round but 10th time in 11 years to see a player picked among the top 32 selections. None of Florida’s three highly-regarded defensive backs were picked on Thursday, though three from Ohio State and two from LSU were selected among the seven total from the position. In fact, the Gators have only seen three defensive backs picked in the first round of the last seven drafts.

Florida could have as many as five players get picked on Friday when Rounds 2 and 3 are held. That would match a program record from 1999. The Gators had four players combined selected in those rounds in both 2004 and 2010.

Cornerbacks Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson, safety Marcus Maye, defensive tackle Caleb Brantley and LB Alex Anzalone are the top players remaining out of Florida.

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