Gators, Seminoles among state schools hoping for strong showing in 2022 NFL Draft – The Mercury News

The Jacksonville Jaguars hold the first overall pick when the 2022 NFL Draft kicks off Thursday night in Las Vegas. Over the next three days, hundreds of college players will realize their childhood dreams of a professional football career.

Among those are players from the seven Football Bowl Subdivision college programs in Florida. Here is a look at what to expect from some of the schools:

FLORIDA

Unlike last year when Florida had two players selected in the first 20 picks, the Gators aren’t projected to have anyone chosen on the first day. Although there could be as many as seven UF players selected this week.

Cornerback Kaiir Elam could be the first Gator off the board. A strong performance at the NFL Combine, where he posted a 4.39-second 40-yard dash, caught the attention of scouts, making him a high prospect.

Running back Dameon Pierce and linebacker Jeremiah Moon could also hear their names on Day 2 of the draft, with both projected as third-round picks. Pierce hopes to become the third Gators tailback drafted over the past four seasons, while Moon could become the first UF linebacker selected since Jachai Polite and Vosean Joseph in 2019.

Defensive tackle Zachary Carter, running back Malik Davis, defensive tackle Tyrone Truesdell and offensive tackle Jean Delance could be taken in the late rounds.

FLORIDA STATE

Edge rusher Jermaine Johnson II is expected to be a first-round pick becoming the 11th FSU player chosen in the first round since 2010. Johnson could become the first Seminole selected in the top 10 since safety Jalen Ramsey (2016).

While fellow defensive lineman Keir Thomas didn’t receive an invite to the NFL Combine, a strong showing at FSU’s Pro Day has some projecting the former South Carolina transfer as a Day 3 selection.

Running back Jashaun Corbin, quarterback McKenzie Milton, linebacker Andrew Parchment and linebacker Emmett Rice could be late-round options or free-agent signees.

MIAMI

Miami has had at least one player selected in the NFL Draft over the past 47 years and that streak should remain intact this year.

After a strong 2021 draft in which the Hurricanes had a pair of first-round selections last season in Jaelan Phillips and Gregory Rousseau, it’s doubtful UM will have any players selected in the first two days.

Many experts project safety Bubba Bolden as a fourth-or-fifth round selection. At the same time, receiver Charleston Rambo could join him after a career season where he had 1,172 yards and 7 touchdowns.

Miami could have as many as 12 players either drafted or signing free-agent contracts, including running back Cam’Ron Harris, offensive lineman DJ Scaife Jr., safety Gurvan Hall Jr., offensive lineman Jarrid Williams, linebacker Zach McCloud, defensive lineman Jonathan Ford, cornerback DJ Ivey, quarterback D’Eriq King and receiver Mark Pope.

UCF

UCF has had at least one player selected in each of the past five drafts, including five players chosen last year.

The Knights should extend that streak with defensive end Kalia Davis projected as a fifth-round selection. Davis has impressed despite being limited as he rehabs from a torn ACL that forced him to miss the second half of the 2021 season.

Offensive lineman Cole Schneider and defensive end Big Kat Bryant could be late-round picks or free-agent signees.

USF

USF hasn’t had anyone drafted since 2018 and while that streak could continue, there are a few options to be considered. Defensive tackle Kevin Kegler appeared in 51 games during his five seasons with the Bulls, totaling 73 career tackles with 15.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. Tight end Mitchell Brinkman spent the past two seasons in Tampa after transferring from Northern Illinois, and he finished his career with 909 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.

FAU

Florida Atlantic has had 10 players drafted since 2010 but none since 2020.

Cornerback Zyron Gilbert has attracted some interest after a five-year college career that saw the Alabama native finish with 247 tackles, 26 passes defended and five interceptions. He ran a 4.40 in the 40-yard dash during the Owls’ Pro Day.

Receiver John Mitchell was fifth on the team in receptions (19) and receiving yards (258) this season and his size (6-foot-4) makes him a good target.

Linebacker Caliph Brice finished among the top tacklers on the team in each of the past two seasons. Brice amassed 58 tackles, 3.5 for a loss, six quarterback hurries, and half a sack despite missing time to injuries.

FIU

Tailback D’vonte Price earned All-Conference USA honors in three straight seasons after amassing 2,203 yards rushing with 15 touchdowns during his five-year career at FIU. He’s hoping to become the first running back in program history selected in the NFL Draft, with some projecting him as a fifth-round selection.

This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Matt Murschel at mmurschel@orlandosentinel.com or follow him on Twitter at @osmattmurschel.

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