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Florida Football

Three Gators selected during day two

April 25, 2020
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Courtesy Florida Sports Information:

Former Gators Van Jefferson, Jabari Zuniga and Jonathan Greenard were selected on day two of the 2020 NFL Draft on Friday night.

Jefferson was selected in the second round by the Los Angeles Rams with the 57th overall pick. Meanwhile, the New York Jets chose Zuniga with the 79th overall pick and the Houston Texans drafted Greenard with the 90th overall pick, both in the third round.

Jefferson became the 40th Florida wide receiver to be drafted in the common draft era and the 19th to go in one of the first three rounds. UF now ranks tied for first nationally (Ohio St. and Ten.) among schools with most wide receivers drafted in the first three rounds since 1967.

“I’m excited. It was so much emotion today being with my family and just waiting on that call,” said Jefferson following his selection. “It was amazing that I got the call today from the Rams and I was so excited. I’m excited to come to this offense and just learn from the guys that are there and get up under a veteran’s wing and try to learn the offense as quick as I can. I’m just excited to be there.”

Jefferson’s selection in the second round makes him the highest-selected Gators wide receiver since Percy Harvin was taken in the first round (22nd overall) by Minnesota in 2009. Additionally, Jefferson is the fifth Florida wide receiver to be selected since 2010 and the latest since Antonio Callaway was taken by Cleveland in the fourth round (105th overall) in 2018.

Zuniga became the 25th Florida defensive lineman selected in the NFL Draft over the past 21 years and he is the latest since Jachai Polite was also drafted by the New York Jets in the third round (68th overall) in 2019.

Greenard’s selection in the third round made him the 19th Florida linebacker to be selected in the first three rounds since 1967. That mark ranks fifth nationally and second in the Southeastern Conference. USC (24), Ohio St. (22), Alabama (21), and Penn State (21) rank head of Florida. Meanwhile, Tennessee (18), Miami (FL) [17], Oklahoma (17), Georgia (16), LSU (16) and Nebraska (16) trail the Gators.

The Gators, who have now had at least one player taken in each of the first two rounds 15 times in the common draft era, also rank fifth nationally and third in the SEC among schools with the most first and second round picks since 2008. Alabama (52), Ohio State (35), LSU (31) and USC (29) lead the Gators on that feat.

Florida has also had multiple players selected in the first three rounds for the sixth-straight year, which is the longest streak since its streak of eight years from 1997-2004.

Gators 2020 NFL Draft Notes

Florida ranks tied for first nationally among schools with the most wide receivers selected in the first three rounds during the common draft era.

  • Florida –19
  • Ohio St. – 19
  • Tennessee – 19
  • Miami (FL) – 18
  • USC – 18
  • LSU – 16
  • Michigan – 13
  • Oklahoma – 13
  • San Diego St. – 13
  • Penn St. – 13
  • Arizona St. – 11
  • Notre Dame – 10
  • Clemson – 9

Florida has had the fifth-most first and second round picks in the nation and third-most in the SEC since 2008.

  • Alabama – 52
  • Ohio State – 35
  • LSU – 31 
  • USC – 29 
  • Florida – 27
  • Florida State – 24
  • Clemson – 22
  • Notre Dame – 22
  • North Carolina – 15
  • Missouri – 14

Florida has had the fifth-most linebackers selected in the first three rounds nationally and the second-most in the SEC.

  • USC – 24 
  • Ohio St. – 22 
  • Alabama – 21
  • Penn State – 21
  • Florida – 19
  • Tennessee – 18
  • Miami (FL) – 17
  • Oklahoma – 17
  • Georgia – 16
  • LSU – 16 
  • Nebraska – 16

The Gators had multiple players selected in the first three rounds for the sixth-straight year. That is the longest streak since its streak of eight years from 1997-2004

What they’re saying about Van Jefferson:

"Technician is a good word for him. He was an outstanding route runner early in his career at Ole Miss and after transferring to the Florida Gators. … He’s got speed. He can turn around. He’s got body control but he never peaks. He sets that slant route up, he never peaks inside with his head and gives away where he’s going on the route. He has very soft hands. He can make very difficult, awkward body catches. I think if you’re Jared Goff and the Rams, you’ve got a patient route runner with straight line speed and a guy that can help this offense." -Jesse Palmer

“I think the background with his father, not only as a player, but also a coach…. All these mock drafts, think of all the receivers they had going before Jefferson. At the end of the day, Sean McVay and his crew said ‘listen, this kid can separate. He’s got the hands to be able to make plays in traffic and he can get off of people', and the system they run, he’s going to be isolated a lot. He’s going to asked to win in that slot and this is a good fit to this system. The route running and the hands are the difference on why they selected him." -Kirk Herbstreit

“His dad, Shawn, is a 13-year NFL veteran, played for the Chargers, Patriots, Falcons, Lions. He’s an assistant coach right now, wide receivers coach with the Jets. Shawn Jefferson had a terrific career and his son, Van, is an outstanding technician. Shawn stepped back quite a bit. He’s worked with him, coached him, but he wanted this to be Van’s story.” -Rece Davis

“NFL lineage. He’s from Brentwood, Tennessee. Started his career at Ole Miss then transferred to Florida. By the way, father … Shawn [Jefferson]. Wide receiver for 13 years in the NFL from 1991 to 2003 and has played in two Super Bowls. Shawn is currently the wide receiver’s coach for the New York Jets, so there is football lineage all the way around as Van Jefferson is now a member of the Los Angeles Rams. And again, Shawn Jefferson played for 13 seasons in the NFL and now Van is going to try and do that.

“With Van Jefferson off the board, he’s now the 12th wide receiver taken in this year’s draft, tying with 2014 for the most wide receivers in the first two rounds in common draft history.” -Trey Wingo

“I think he’s one of the elite route runners in this draft class. He was a guy that everybody around the league seemed to be targeting in that third-round range and anytime that happens, you know someone’s going to go ahead and do it in the second round. He’s creative in his release off the line of scrimmage, he’s polished at the top of the route and he’s got incredibly strong hands. Also, as a gunner on punt, he’s very tough. I thought he compared to Cooper Kupp. That’s who I compared him to throughout the entire process and now he’s got Cooper Kupp as a teammate. Pristine route runner here.” -Daniel Jeremiah

“I love this kid, too. I love his father, he’s a very good friend of mine. What you’re talking about is this kid’s the technician in the game of football. It’s not just about knowing how to get open, it’s also about knowing when to be open. He’s very, very good at that. A great pickup for this football team.” -Michael Irvin

What they’re saying about Jabari Zuniga:

“He lacks just a little bit of body flexibility, but overall, the one word I would use is he’s twitchy. He’s quick off the ball. He understands run schemes. He understands how to play down the line of scrimmage and, as a pass rusher, I think he has enough flexibility. If he has trouble turning the edge on the next level, you can reduce him down inside. He can put on 10 or 15 pounds. I like him rushing over the guard. So, either way, you either have a guy who can stand up and come off the outside in a 3-4 or slide down and kick inside. A little stiff on the low end but I think his upside is tremendous.” -Booger McFarland

“This is an interesting pick because he came back for his senior year to boost his stock and it didn’t go as planned. He suffered that high ankle sprain and played just in six games.” -Trey Wingo

“The Jets are getting a guy, that when healthy, can really put pressure on the passer. He just kept trying to get through a high ankle sprain this past year and Jabari Zuniga joins these guys- the top three picks from the Jets, the last two going on defense.” -Rece Davis

“He’s a guy that was really a late bloomer. He only played one year of football in high school. He was 5’11’’, all the sudden he had a four-inch growth spurt and at six-foot-three and all the sudden became a big prospect so the Florida Gators gobbled him up. The one thing he does have is a lot of speed. [He] ran a 4.65 40-yard dash and you can see the quickness and the explosion.” -Jesse Palmer

“I love the fact that he has a hoops background. Hoops player, only one year of high school football gives you an idea of still how much more he can grow as a football player. Rece, you made a good point about the high ankle [sprain], it would’ve been fun to really watch him turn loose along with [Jonathan] Greenard if they were both healthy… Kid’s a gamechanger. Can play inside and outside. Jesse, you talked about some of those players they have on that d-line, he’ll be a great addition to what they’re trying to do.” -Kirk Herbstreit

What they’re saying about Jonathan Greenard:

“This is just a guy that you can count on. Plays with relentless effort.” -Rece Davis

“I know Todd Grantham, who was at Louisville as defensive coordinator, went down to Florida with Dan Mullen and when he went down there, Greenard left Louisville to play for Grantham, and he loves him. He’s been around a lot of great defensive players in that conference and they said this guy’s attitude is as good as he has ever been around. A guy, when he is healthy, is relentless off the edge. I think he’s good enough against the run, but I think he makes a name for himself with his ability to use his power and speed to be able to win on the outside and be able to put pressure on that quarterback, and that’s what he will be asked to do in the NFL.” -Kirk Herbstreit

“He started off the season, remember that game against Miami and he lived in the backfield… This is a guy that is just hyper-active. Penetrates. Super, super tough. Not big, not big at all, Kirk, but he more than held his own in the run. He is definitely a guy that can get after the quarterback, get after the passer in a relentless style like Kirk mentioned.” -David Pollack

“Jonathan Greenard began his career at Louisville. He was a team captain there. He transferred to Florida but he was a 2019 First Team All-SEC and a 2019 15.5 tackles-for-losses, which also led the SEC.” -Trey Wingo

“He’s got some of the strongest hands in this draft. You consistently see him, at 6’3” and 263 [lbs], set the edge, whether it was Louisville or it was Florida. He can set the edge. Understands how to control, keep his outside arm free and make some plays. The thing you’re looking for is just a little bit more burst. A little bit more juice off the edge. Has an array of pass rush moves but just doesn’t have that natural speed and that natural juice to turn the corner. I can see him fitting as a stack linebacker maybe. Also, in a 3-4, can be an outside linebacker. I think he has the ability to drop in coverage. Overall, I just think this is a developmental pass rusher who has some of the strongest hands that I’ve seen in this draft class.” -Booger McFarland

 
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