Florida NFL Draft recap: Kaiir Elam headlines trio of former Gators players selected

Graham Hall
Gator Sports

The Florida Gators football program had a trio of former players selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, held Thursday-Saturday in Las Vegas.

As expected, Kaiir Elam was the first Gator off the board, with the UF cornerback going No. 23 overall to the Buffalo Bills. The Bills traded up with the Baltimore Ravens to select Elam, with Buffalo sending picks No. 25 and No. 130 to Baltimore to select Elam. 

He arrived in Buffalo on Friday and was recognized later that night at a Buffalo Sabres NHL game with Bills quarterback Josh Allen. By Saturday, Elam was already studying the team's defensive playbook. 

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Kaiir Elam already in Buffalo

Buffalo Bills first-round NFL football draft pick Kaiir Elam stands with a helmet during an introductory news conference Friday, April 29, 2022, in Orchard Park, N.Y.

"I believe I'm prepared, but I also believe I have to keep working," Elam told "You're only as good as your last performance. I don't believe in my past performance. I try to put my best foot forward and that's something I'm still learning, to put my best foot forward every time I step on that field." 

Following his rise in the buildup to the draft, the Riviera Beach, Fla., native opted to represent himself rather than hire an agent. Considering his pedigree, it wasn’t necessarily a risky decision. Elam’s father, Abram Elam, played seven seasons in the NFL from 2005 until 2012, while Elam’s uncle, Matt Elam, also played football at UF before becoming a first-round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Bengals know tackle Zachary Carter 'a tough guy'

Following Elam’s first-round selection, UF defensive tackle Zachary Carter was selected Friday night in the third round with the 95th overall pick by the Cincinnati Bengals. 

Carter is the 133rd defender and 51st defensive linemen drafted from Florida, and his selection marked the 11th consecutive year that a UF defensive lineman was selected in the NFL Draft, tied for the second-longest active streak in Division I history.

Bengals’ defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo praised the selection of Carter. 

“There’s no doubt he’s going to bring a sense of urgency to the group,” Anarumo told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “He crosses that white line, he’s a tough guy.”

Dameon Pierce is third Gator drafted

As Day 3 of the draft arrived Saturday (rounds 4-7), Florida running back Dameon Pierce became the second selection of the fourth round when the Houston Texans selected the UF rusher with pick No. 107. 

Pierce rushed 329 times in his UF career, tallying 1,806 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns, 16 of which came in his final season with the Florida program. He also hauled in 45 passes for 422 yards and five touchdowns across his four-year UF career. 

"I'm happy to be in Texas," Pierce told "Hey baby: let's go get this thing rocking."

The trio would end up the only UF players taken in this year's draft.