If there is one word that probably best describes why Jarrad Davis was selected with the 21st pick overall in the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night it is consistency.
Davis followed up an outstanding senior season at the University of Florida with an eye-opening performance at the NFL combine in Indianapolis (4.58 40, 4.78 3-cone drill, 38.5 inch vertical, 23 reps on the bench) back in February. That got him in the first round conversation. What cemented him as a first rounder was his performance at Florida’s pro day (4.56 40 time) in April. Davis was consistent and that is one of the main reasons he will be signing a four-year contract worth several million dollars in the immediate future.
Davis is that rare three-down linebacker that doesn’t have to leave the field in passing situations. He can maneuver in traffic without getting picked off to get to the hole and stop the run and he’s got the speed and instincts to play in coverage. He is also a kid with zero in the way of character issues and that weighed heavily.
Davis is expected to start at middle linebacker from day one in Detroit, which had serious difficulty getting opponents off the field in 2016.
THE SEC AND THE DRAFT
1. Cleveland: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
4. Jacksonville: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
6. New York Jets: Jamal Adams, S, LSU
14. Philadelphia: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
16. Baltimore: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
17. Washington: Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
19. Tampa Bay: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
21. DETROIT: JARRAD DAVIS, LB, FLORIDA
22. Miami: Charles Harris, LB/DE, Missouri
23. New York Giants: Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss
27. Buffalo: Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
31. San Francisco: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
After all these mock drafts that were top heavy with Alabama players in the first ten picks, it wasn’t until cornerback Marlon Humphrey was taken at #16 by the Ravens that the first Alabama player was selected. That started a run of three straight Bama players with defensive end Jonathan Allen going to the Washington Redskins and tight end O.J. Howard going to the Tampa Bay Bucs.
The big losers Thursday night were Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster and Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, whose character issues caused their stock to drop like a rock. Foster was rated the #1 linebacker in the draft and the eighth best player overall but he lasted until the 31st pick. Cook was rated the third best running back and 17th best player overall but he went undrafted on day one.
Tom Coughlin has always believed that winning football requires a strong running game, which has everything to do with why he picked LSU’s Leonard Fournette with the #4 overall pick in the first round. By drafting Fournette that tells you the Jaguars are committed to the running game moving forward. There had been some speculation that Coughlin would pick Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson with the pick.
Another player whose stock dropped out of sight was Florida defensive tackle Caleb Brantley. Brantley was a marginal first rounder but the accusation that he punched out a woman certainly eliminated any first round consideration. He could still go in the second round, where most mock drafts had him before the character questions, but it’s more likely he will be picked in the third round if at all.
The Baltimore Ravens had Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley submit to a lie detector test, which he passed. Conley has been accused of raping a woman but he claims to have video evidence and witnesses that can prove his innocence. Conley was expected to go in the first 15 picks but he fell to #24 with the Oakland Raiders. Conley says he will submit to a DNA test next week to further prove his innocence.
Considering he only started 13 games in his college career, it’s rather shocking that the Chicago Bears traded up to pick North Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky with the second overall pick. It’s equally shocking that the Kansas City Chiefs picked Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes before Deshaun Watson went to the Houston Texans. Trubisky and Mahomes had losing records against ranked teams while Watson was outstanding. Winners win and Houston has itself a winner.
The Tennessee Titans selected Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis with the #5 overall pick. You may not have heard about him but you will. He could very well end up the steal of the entire draft. And while on the subject of wide receivers, the Cincinnati Bengals have a flyer in Washington’s John Ross (4.22 40 time, world class sprinter) to put opposite dependable A.J. Green. Ross is a football player who runs track not a track star who dabbles in football.
Utah left tackle Garrett Bolles (picked by Denver at #20) was kicked out of five schools and out of his own home before he got this life thing figured out. It was touching to hear him reach out to kids who are in bad circumstances and offer to be there for them if only they will get in contact with him.
Linebacker Haason Reddick (#12, Denver) started his collegiate career at Temple as a walk-on for Steve Addazio.
Twelve SEC players were taken in the first round with only three chosen in the top ten. That’s a bit of a surprise.
BEST AVAILABLE FOR DAY TWO
In the top ten of Mel Kiper’s best available list are Gators Quincy Wilson (CB, #5 best available) and Marcus Maye (S, #9 best available). Kiper has Jalen Tabor (CB) as the 30th best available player and Alex Anzalone (LB) as the 41st. Dalvin Cook is the second best available.
If you’re looking for a surprise pick in the second round, go with Tennessee QB Joshua Dobbs. Kiper has him as the 32nd best player available but given his skill set and the success Dak Prescott had last year with Dallas, Dobbs could go early second.
GATORS CAN CLINCH SEC SOFTBALL TITLE AT TENNESSEE
With a sweep at #8 Tennessee (41-6, 13-4 SEC) this weekend, the #1-ranked Florida Gators (44-3, 18-2 SEC) can clinch the Southeastern Conference championship. This will be the final SEC weekend for the Gators, who have a 1-game lead in the loss column over 4th-ranked Texas A&M (40-5, 14-3) and a 2-game lead over the Vols. The Aggies are at 19th-ranked Kentucky (32-13, 9-9) this weekend and they close out the regular season hosting Tennessee.
The way the schedule works out, the Gators could probably get away with simply winning two out of three against Tennessee, but a clean sweep would give the title to UF no matter what happens next weekend.
The weekend series in Knoxville will be a strength against strength matchup – Florida’s pitching against the Vols hitting. The Gators are leading the nation in ERA at 0.70 while the Vols rank #8 nationally in hitting at .331. Florida will almost certainly go with Kelly Barnhill (20-0) who leads the nation in ERA at 0.17 and strikeouts per seven innings with 13.1. Saturday afternoon (2 p.m.) the Gators will probably go with lefty Delanie Gourley (14-3), who ranks #6 nationally in ERA and #10 in strikeouts per seven innings with 10.1.
Tennessee’s dynamic offense is led by Meghan Gregg, who ranks third nationally in batting average at .470 and second in RBI with 66. Gregg has hit 10 homers and 18 doubles. The Vols have stolen 89 bases this season led by C.J. McClain who has 22 steals in 24 attempts.
BIG WEEKEND FOR UF BASEBALL
The 8th-ranked Gators (27-13, 10-8 SEC) clearly need a sweep this weekend in Athens when they face Georgia (17-25, 5-13 SEC), which brings up the rear in the SEC East. With 7th-ranked Kentucky (28-13, 12-6 SEC) facing a tough road trip to #21 South Carolina (24-15, 9-9 SEC), it’s a real chance for Florida to gain some ground on UK, which has an 8-9 record on the road.
UF WOMEN’S GOLF #1 SEED IN COLUMBUS REGIONAL
Fresh off their SEC championship, the Florida women’s golf team will go to the Columbus Regional as a #1 NCAA seed. The top six teams from each of the four NCAA regionals will advance to the NCAA Championship from May 19-24 in Sugar Grove, IL. At last week’s SEC tournament, the Gators broke the conference record by six shots with a 22-under par 842 for the three days of the tournament. The Gators will be attempting to advance to the NCAA Championship for the 27th time in school history.
I giggled when the Chicago Bears drafted Mitch Trubisky (QB, North Carolina) with the #2 overall pick. The Bears swapped places with San Francisco to get the second pick, which had all the ESPN talking heads gushing over Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford). They were so certain it would be Thomas and when Roger Goodell announced Trubisky to the Bears Mel Kiper almost swallowed his tongue.
Juan Dixon, who led Maryland to the 2002 NCAA championship, is now the head basketball coach at Coppin State in Baltimore. This is Dixon’s first job as a men’s head coach. He spent 2016-17 coaching the women’s team at the University of District of Columbia, which he led to a 3-25 record.
Russell Westbrook is eligible to sign another contract extension this summer that could be worth as much as $220 million and would make him the highest paid player in the NBA. Although there is speculation that he might go free agent when his contract extension is over, Westbrook told ESPN, “Obviously, Oklahoma City is a place that I want to be.”
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Which is the greater surprise to you: That Reuben Foster dropped all the way to next to last in the first round or that Dalvin Cook wasn’t picked at all on day one?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
From the first time I heard them as the backup band to Eric Burden on the song “Spill the Wine,” I’ve been a big fan of War. I heard “All Day Music” on the radio today and that