Florida having Vernon Hargreaves III and Keanu Neal picked in the first 17 picks of Thursday night's first round of the 2016 NFL Draft is sure to be a boon to the Gators' ability to continue recruiting talented defensive backs.
It was also unprecedented in Gators history, as Florida has never before had multiple defensive backs taken in the first round — much less in the top 20.
It was Neal's selection at No. 17 by the Falcons that made the distinction possible. Hargreaves coming off the board to the Buccaneers was hardly a surprise, as it was no secret that there was mutual interest between VH3 and his hometown team despite his notoriously "short" stature; Neal, on the other hand, was a late riser in the pre-draft process who turned an unforeseen good evaluation from the Draft Advisory Committee into one that actually underrated his final draft stock.
Florida's not alone in having two defensive backs taken in the top 17 picks of an NFL Draft, nor a corner and a safety — it actually isn't even alone in that regard in this decade, because Alabama had safety Mark Barron and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick picked at No. 7 and No. 17 in the 2012 NFL Draft. But while Barron was, like Hargreaves, picked by the Bucs, he also washed out with the team before resurfacing as a safety / linebacker hybrid with the Rams, and Kirkpatrick is routinely rated as one of the NFL's worst regular cornerbacks.
So there's a decent chance that Hargreaves and Neal will outdo the only other duo of DBs drafted in the first round this decade. Should that happen, you can be sure it will be more evidence used to prove Florida's mettle in the (incessant and tiresome) DBU debate.
After all, the SEC Network already used the picks alone to make the Gators' claim.
The typically reticent Jalen Tabor concurred.
2 UF DB's off the board already ❗️ Still anymore talk about DBU ❓❓ I think not— Jalen Tabor (@_31Flavorz) April 29, 2016
Of course, there's also the distinct possibility that Florida might make a run at having multiple defensive backs taken in the first round next year. Tabor and Marcus Maye would seem to be candidates to be selected early. and Quincy Wilson is no slouch, either — though he initially set his sights low in a tweet on Thursday night before swiftly correcting himself.
Going be 2 this year and 2 next year ‼️— Quincy Wilson (@dc_wilson954) April 29, 2016
3 actually.. God willing— Quincy Wilson (@dc_wilson954) April 29, 2016