Eight Gators were selected in the NFL Draft and have an opportunity to extend their careers at the professional level. Former UF linebacker Jarrad Davis, right, meets Detroit defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson during his tour of the team’s facility on Friday. (Photo: Courtesy of Detroit Lions) GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The transition is swift for first-round NFL Draft picks.
Former Gators linebacker Jarrad Davis watched the draft with family and friends at home Thursday night in Kingsland, Ga. By Friday morning, he was on a jet headed for Detroit as the newest member of the Lions, the 21st player taken overall.
A limousine picked up Davis and his mother, Amy Davis , at the airport. They headed to the Lions’ team facility from there, where he took a tour guided by Detroit general manager Bob Quinn and president Ron Wood . By that afternoon, Davis was decked in a fashionable dark-blue suit and a white Detroit cap at his introductory press conference.
Davis was Florida’s only first-round pick on Thursday night, but when the draft concluded early Saturday evening, eight Gators had been selected. Davis will rejoin cornerback Teez Tabor with the Lions, his teammate for the past three years at UF. Tabor was Detroit’s second-round pick on Friday.
Now that the draft has passed, rookie camp is next up for the players. There is still a lot of time between now and the start of the NFL season, but let’s take a glance at the early prospects for the Gators who were drafted or signed as undrafted free agents:
LB JARRAD DAVIS (first round, Detroit)
Rookie status: Davis is slated to start at middle linebacker in his first season as the Lions continue to retool the roster under head coach Jim Caldwell . Quinn told the Detroit Free-Press Davis can player either middle or weakside linebacker in the NFL on the night of the first round, but in a video posted on the team’s website, he said: "We’ll play him at middle linebacker we hope for many years with him calling our defense."
Quote of note: "It’s rare to see a guy with his size and bulk that can move like he moves,” Caldwell said. "He’s a guy that’s versatile. Certainly going to be able to play three downs for us as well. A fourth down if we happen to put him on special teams also, because he’s capable of that as well. But a guy that’s extremely well balanced in that area."
Linebackers on active roster: Davis, Thurston Armbrister, Nick Bellore, Brandon Chubb, Jalen Reeves-Maybin (rookie), Tahir Whitehead, Antwione Williams, Paul Worrilow.
S MARCUS MAYE (second round, New York Jets)
Rookie status: The Jets allowed 52 passes of 20 or more yards last season (14th-most in NFL) and 13 of 40-plus yards (third-most), so improving their secondary was a top priority . Maye has every opportunity to earn a starting job or significant role.
Quote of note: "There were some other players around him, but we felt there was separation […]