After having one Florida player drafted through the first three rounds, things changed quickly on Saturday. The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Jaylen Watkins with the first pick of the fourth round, filling a needed in the secondary with the 101st overall pick.
"It's definitely a great opportunity for me," Watkins told the Eagles' official website. "I'm just excited, really, to get in and learn."
Watkins finished his career at Florida with 48 games played and 28 starts. As a senior, Watkins was third on the team with 52 tackles. He finished his career with 133 tackles, 21 pass break ups and three interceptions. His versatility was on display throughout the season, playing corner, nickel and safety for the Gators.
One year ago, the NFL Draft talk in the Florida secondary was focused on Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson. However, Watkins' film and NFL Combine production shot him up draft boards and made him the first pick of the fourth round. Eagles coach Chip Kelly made him the team's priority on Saturday.
"Extremely high football intelligence," Kelly told the Eagles' official site. "He has the speed to play corner, but sometimes when you're drafting guys, you're trying to project that maybe he can be this. Obviously, there is evidence of him playing safety and doing it at a really high level.
"He could be the quarterback of the defense because of his football intelligence, and we just thought that versatility and that football intelligence and character part of it, we thought it was a really good value, especially today. He's one of those guys that we were really excited about last night, where if we didn't get a great offer, then we were going to stay right there and take Jaylen."
Ronald Powell was the next Florida player off the board, going to the New Orleans Saints in the fifth round. Powell split time last season between a hybrid linebacker/defensive end role and led the team with four sacks. He added seven tackles for a loss and had eight quarterback hurries.
Powell's Florida career came to an end with 84 tackles, 19 tackles for a loss and 11 sacks.
"He is pretty strong," Saints coach Sean Payton told the team's official site. "He has heavy hands. We felt like he is a guy that has some versatility. We felt like his measurables were good. He plays outside linebacker. I would definitely see him playing that for us, that Sam position, not so much in a stack or off the ball but more on the line of scrimmage."
The New England Patriots selected Jon Halapio in the sixth round. He started 43 games in his career and played in 51. Halapio played for most of last season after recovering from a torn pectoral muscle he suffered during the summer. He also served as a team captain before the season started.
Draft analysts praised his toughness to fight through the injury when he had the option to sit out the year and take a redshirt.