For right tackle Jawaan Taylor, who is projected as a potential first-round pick, going pro is a no-brainer — and a decision that he made public on Saturday, hours after helping Florida crush Michigan in the 2018 Peach Bowl.
Thank You to ALL GATOR NATION! It’s been an honor to play for the best University in the Country ✌ pic.twitter.com/V8aSiPoMQU— Jawaan. T 6️⃣5️⃣ (@jawaan_taylor74) December 30, 2018
Taylor has the size (Florida lists him at 6’5” and 325 pounds, and his weight loss prior to his arrival in Gainesville is well-documented) and the technique to be an NFL starter, and was a consistently strong performer throughout his three years in Gainesville after entering the Gators’ lineup as a true freshman in 2016. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. is among the many Draft observers who have been bullish about Taylor’s chances to do that, and he has consistently appeared in the first round of multiple mock drafts this fall.
All that combines to make Taylor choosing to go pro a logical call for him, and one that was likely very much expected by Florida’s coaching staff — which took a seven-man crop of offensive linemen in its 2019 class, partially in preparation for the possibility that Taylor could depart early and leave the Gators needing to replace four or even all five of the starters on their 2018 offensive line.
Taylor joins Chauncey Gardner-Johnson — who, like Taylor, starred at Brevard County’s Cocoa High before coming to Florida — in entering the 2019 NFL Draft early from Florida. With stars such as Jachai Polite and Jordan Scarlett among the Gators yet to make decisions, that number could very easily swell in the coming days.