Gators Patriotic on Day 2 of Draft

Florida's defense had a terrific Friday, with four players being selected in rounds two and three. A pair of them will even stay together on the next level, as the New England Patriots chose a pair of Gators in the second round. Florida has had more players drafted thus far than any school in the country, and the six first and second rounders is a new school record.

The first Gator to go on day two of the draft was Jermaine Cunningham. The Patriots took him as a likely outside linebacker for their 3-4 scheme 21 picks into the second round. Nine picks later they added Brandon Spikes to the mix as an inside linebacker. It's well known that Bill Belichick has a strong relationship with Urban Meyer and is a close observer of the Gator program, and it paid off for Spikes and Cunningham.

"We were at Florida, and it felt like we were working out half the first and second round," said Belichick

Explaining why he feels Cunningham can make the switch to linebacker, Belichick said "he's a pretty athletic kid and they did drop him into coverage some." He says Cunningham will definitely be an edge guy for the Patriots, but there's a chance he could still see time at end.

Spikes was criticized leading up to the draft because of his much slower than expected 40-yard dash times at his Pro Day workout, but Belichick downplayed that as a concern.

"He's been a very productive player for them against a high level of competition. I think he plays faster than his speed, but he may only run 40 yards straight twice a game. As a football player he has great side to side ability."

Carlos Dunlap was selected by Cincinnati one spot after Cunningham, marking the end of a remarkable fall from his once touted status as a top five caliber player. The combination of questions about his consistency on the field as well as his DUI arrest the week of the SEC Championship Game caused his stock to drop.

Belichick was asked point blank why he would opt for Cunningham over Dunlap, and said "obviously we feel he's a better player for this team".

For his part, Dunlap is trying to take a positive attitude toward the situation.

"I'm just using the talk as motivation and I look forward to proving a lot of people wrong. That's all I can do."

The Bengals are led by a former defensive coach in Marvin Lewis, and he concluded Dunlap's ability was simply too good to pass up.

"He has an ability to be both an outside rusher and an inside rusher. He's a tremendous athlete and he's had good production."

Lewis also liked Dunlap's background in Florida's scheme.

"He's done a lot of the things you do in National Football League defenses, as far as understanding blitz-zones, and then the base defenses."

The final Gator to go on day one was Major Wright to Chicago with the 11th pick of round three. From the beginning of the draft Chicago area media had indicated the Bears were hoping Wright would be there when they made their first selection of the draft. He was, and they did not hesitate to make him their man.

As positive as Wright's decision to turn pro early came out for him, it's beginning to appear that Aaron Hernandez made a poor choice by leaving school before his senior season. Questions about his blocking and size have resulted in him still being on the board heading into round number four. It's the second year in a row that a Gator tight end has seen his stock take a surprising tumble, as Cornelius Ingram fell all the way to the fifth round last season. Wide receiver Riley Cooper, who many projections had going in the third round, is also still available as the final day of the draft commences at 10 a.m. Saturday.

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