The 2022 NFL Draft came and went, with Kaiir Elam headlining the next wave of local talents looking to make an impact as professional football players.
More than a half-dozen prospects who competed on the gridiron in Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade counties during their high school years were selected over the course of the three-day draft in Las Vegas this week. Elam led the way after the Buffalo Bills chose him with the 23rd pick, but Tyquan Thornton, Nik Bonitto, and James Houston IV were among the other products from the greater South Florida area that were drafted.
Here is a closer look at the seven local players who were taken in the 2022 NFL Draft in order of how they were selected:
Kaiir Elam, Cornerback, Florida, Benjamin, No. 23, Buffalo Bills
Elam is coming off three seasons with the Gators in which he made 35 appearances, six interceptions, 79 total tackles, 26 passes defended, and one fumble recovery. The former Benjamin star who is listed at 6 feet 1 1/2 and 191 pounds earned All-SEC First Team honors in 2020 and All-SEC Freshman Team distinction the year prior.
Tyquan Thornton, Wide Receiver, Baylor, Booker T. Washington, No. 50, New England Patriots
The 6-foot-2 and 182-pound receiver caught 143 passes and ran for 2,242 yards and 19 touchdowns in his four years with the Bears. Thornton also had eight kick returns for 138 yards at Baylor.
James Cook, Running back, Georgia, Miami Central, No. 63, Green Bay Packers
Cook ran for 1,503 yards and 14 touchdowns on 230 attempts and caught 67 passes for 730 yards and six scores during his four seasons at Georgia. The Bulldog also had five kick returns for 91 yards from 2018-2021. He is listed at 5 feet 11 and 199 pounds.
Nik Bonnito, Linebacker, Oklahoma, St. Thomas Aquinas, No. 64, Denver Broncos
The 6-foot-3 and 248-pound Bonitto spent four years with the Sooners. The former St. Thomas Aquinas state champion started in 29 of the 39 games he played in for Oklahoma, made 117 tackles, recorded 18.5 sacks, forced one fumble, recovered three, finished with one interception, and produced 24 quarterback hurries.
James Houston IV, Linebacker, Jackson State, American Heritage, No. 217, Detroit Lions
The American Heritage product who stands at 6 feet 1 and 241 pounds, spent his first three collegiate years with Florida before transferring to Jackson State. Houston finished with a combined 173 tackles, 21 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, one interception and one block during his stints with the Gators and Tigers.
Faion Hicks, Cornerback, Wisconsin, Flanagan, No. 232, Denver Broncos
Hicks was with Wisconsin during his entire collegiate career, redshirting in 2017 before spending four more years with the program. The former Flanagan state champion, who is listed at 5 foot 11 and 200 pounds, amassed 108 total tackles, one interception, and 19 passes defended in 44 games for the Badgers.
Jonathan Ford, Defensive Tackle, Miami, Dillard, No. 234, Green Bay Packers
The 6-foot-5, 333-pound defensive lineman played five seasons with Miami, making 30 starts in his 50 games. He finished his time with the Hurricanes with 60 tackles, three sacks, and one forced fumble.