Jaguars take Fowler at No. 3

The first Florida player came off the board early Thursday night.

The Jacksonville Jaguars selected former Florida defensive end Dante Fowler with the No. 3 pick in the NFL Draft.

"Somebody's got to pinch me really soon because I'm dreaming right now," Fowler said on the ESPN broadcast. "Duval (County), you got a Gator. Let's do it. I know they need a LEO and that right end position was a need. I told them I was the guy. I told them "let's do it" and they got me."

Fowler becomes the 12th Florida defensive lineman selected in the first round since 1989, the most of any school in that timeframe.

He leaves Gainesville after a disruptive junior year. He led the Gators with 8.5 sacks and 17 quarterback hurries while finishing fourth on the team with 60 tackles. His three-year Florida career ended with 14.5 sacks.

The best game of Fowler's career came during the final time he wore a Florida uniform. He had three sacks in Florida's Birmingham Bowl win over East Carolina. Fowler had already announced he was leaving early and knew it would be his last game, but instead of sitting it out or playing at half speed to make sure he was healthy, Fowler went out creating havoc for the Pirates.

As a sophomore, Fowler had 3.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for a loss. He was disruptive off the edge for Florida during that season, but it didn’t come consistently enough. The Florida staff knew there was more production to come, and they challenged Fowler to attack spring practice like a future professional. He did that, looked unblockable at times and turned into the first-round pick.

Fowler is the 47th first-round pick in Florida history. Fowler was the third selection, tying him with Wes Chandler (New Orleans, 1978) for the highest Florida player selected since the 1966 NFL-AFL merger.

Fowler joins Fred Taylor (1998), Reggie Nelson (2007) and Derrick Harvey (2008) as Florida players selected by Jacksonville in the first round. He's the ninth Florida product to be selected by the Jaguars, the most of any school.

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