The first Florida Gators player off the board in the 2017 NFL Draft was not a selection from the program’s loaded secondary. Instead, it was Jarrad Davis, the heart and soul of the Gators’ defense for the last two years, who was taken with the No. 21 pick of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions on Thursday night.
Davis made plays for most of his senior season at Florida after passing on early entry to the 2016 NFL Draft, racking up 60 tackles, six tackles for loss, and two sacks in just nine games. But injuries limited Davis at season’s end, as he played just twice after October while dealing with ankle and knee issues, and he was not the quick and instinctual player he was pre-injury in a four-tackle performance against Alabama in the 2016 SEC Championship Game.
But Davis had an unbelievable Pro Day in late March, leaping skyward and blazing a 4.56-second 40-yard dash, assuaging any concerns about his health entering the NFL Draft and resulting in waves of buzz suggesting he would be a first-rounder entering Tuesday.
Davis was also most connected to the Lions, who made him their first Gator drafted in since 1985, when offensive lineman Lomas Brown went to Detroit with the sixth overall pick.
Davis is the first true linebacker selected from Florida in the NFL Draft’s first round since Clifford Charlton in 1988. (Do you think Jevon Kearse and Dante Fowler, Jr., listed as linebackers in Florida’s media guide, were something other than defensive ends?)
We at Alligator Army wish Davis the best of luck in silver and blue, and one of us — hint: it’s me — hopes he does not maim Aaron Rodgers.