Special to Gatorsports.com
Florida’s football program continues to produce players who are selected annually in the NFL draft.
The Gators had five players drafted this past weekend: offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor (2nd Round, 35th overall, Jacksonville Jaguars), defensive end/outside linebacker Jachai Polite (3rd Round, 68th overall, New York Jets), defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (fourth round, 105th overall, New Orleans Saints) linebacker Vosean Joseph (5th round, 147th overall, Buffalo Bills) and running back Jordan Scarlett (fifth round, 154th overall, Carolina Panthers).
Florida has had the third most first and second round picks since 2008.
o Alabama – 46
o Ohio State – 33
o Florida – 26
o Florida State – 23
o LSU – 22
o USC – 22
o Clemson – 19
o Notre Dame – 19
o Missouri – 15
o North Carolina – 15
· For the fifth-straight year, at least five Gators were selected. In addition, this is the 12th time since 2000 that the Gators reached that mark.
o Florida joins 18 other schools that had at least five guys selected in the 2019 NFL Draft
o Eight of the 19 schools that had at least five guys drafted are members of the SEC
· Polite was the 24th Florida defensive lineman selected in the NFL Draft over the past 20 years. That mark is tied with Florida State for the second-most in that span. UF trails only Alabama (26) and the Gators rank ahead of LSU (23), Clemson (23), Ohio State (20), Miami (19) and Tennessee (17).
· In addition, UF has had a DL selected in every draft this decade and Polite is the 12th picked during that span. That total ranks third in the nation and trails Alabama (18) and Clemson (14). With that, Ohio State (11), Michigan (10), Florida State (10), LSU (8), Oklahoma (8), Miami (8) and Penn State (8) all sit behind UF.
· The Gators had multiple players selected in the first three rounds for the fifth-straight year. That is the longest streak since its streak of eight years from 1997-2004
· At least one Florida player has been selected in every NFL Draft since 1952, the longest streak in SEC history.
Garner-Johnson became the eighth Florida defensive back selected in the NFL Draft since 2016, joining Duke Dawson (second round, 56th, 2018), Marcell Harris (sixth round, 184th, 2018), Marcus Maye (second round, 39th, 2017), Quincy Wilson (second round, 46th, 2017), Teez Tabor (second round, 53rd, 2017), Vernon Hargreaves III (first round, 11th, 2016) and Keanu Neal (first round, 17th, 2016).
Florida’s eight defensive backs selected in the NFL Draft since 2016 is tied with Miami for the top mark in the country. Alabama (7), Ohio State (7) and LSU (6) all trail the Gators.
New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis said the Saints see Gardner-Johnson as someone who can play either safety spot.
“That was one of the things we like about him — his versatility,” Loomis said.
The 5-11, 210-pound Gardner-Johnson had nine interceptions at Florida, returning three for touchdowns. Four of his interceptions — and two of his TD returns — came last season. Loomis said the Saints see the former Gator as someone who can play either safety spot.
Meanwhile, Joseph’s became the sixth Florida linebacker selected in the last seven years and Scarlett is the fifth Florida running back picked in the draft since 2000 and the first since Kelvin Taylor was selected in the sixth round of the 2016 draft by San Francisco.
New Orleans has now drafted 10 Gators, most recently selecting Alex Anzalone in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. On the flipside, Joseph was the first UF player picked by the Bills since defensive end Scott Hutchinson was selected in the second round of the 1978 draft and Scarlett was the first Gators player ever selected by the Panthers.
Quoting UF coach Dan Mullen:
· On Chauncey Gardner-Johnson:
o “Chauncey had a great career with the Gators. I will always remember his approach for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. He was fully committed to the team, his teammates, and the game. With that said, he went out and arguably had the best game of his career. He has great position flexibility and plays with unbelievable energy and passion.”
· On Vosean Joseph:
o “Vosean is very athletic and a passionate player who plays with a lot of intensity and can surprise you with how hard he hits.”
· On Jordan Scarlett:
o “Jordan did nothing but buy into the program every day, both on and off the field. He went about his business in a very unselfish manner and put the team first. He understood how to bring value to the team with an unselfish approach that included playing special teams.”
A group of other UF players agreed to free agent deals:
Senior defensive tackle Khairi Clark has signed an undrafted rookie free agent contract with the Jaguars, he announced on Twitter. … Senior offensive lineman Tyler Jordan has been invited to the Atlanta Falcons rookie minicamp for a tryout. … Jefferson has been invited to a Seattle Seahawks rookie mini-camp next week and might have a chance to sign a free-agent contract. … Offensive guard Fred Johnson signed a free-agent contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers. .. Offensive tackle Martez Ivey agreed to attend the Seattle Seahawks rookie minicamp for a tryout.