For better or for worse, the Jacksonville Jaguars love taking former Florida players in the NFL draft. The Jags have taken 11 Gators in the draft over the years, including six players in the first round during their history.
Some of the recent Florida players Jacksonville has selected include cornerback CJ Henderson (2020), offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor (2019), defensive tackle Taven Bryan (2018) and defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (2015).
Former Jaguars and Gators head coach Urban Meyer tried to add another former player who suited up in the Orange and Blue during the 2021 draft with its second first-round pick. He said he was crushed after the New York Giants took wide receiver Kadarius Toney took him five picks before Jacksonville was on the clock again.
A day before the 2022 NFL draft kicks off, Gators Wire is reflecting on six Florida players Jacksonville has taken in the first round during its franchise history.
C.J. Henderson, CB, 2020, No. 9
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Henderson was a lockdown corner for Florida from 2017-2019. He recorded 93 tackles, eight for a loss, four sacks, six interceptions, 20 pass deflections and two forced fumbles.
So far during his short NFL career, Henderson has struggled to find his footing. The Jaguars traded him midway through the 2021 season to the Carolina Panthers for a third-round pick and tight end Dan Arnold. He has only managed one pick, eight pass deflections, a forced fumble, 75 tackles and a tackle for a loss.
Taven Bryan, DT, 2018, No. 28
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Bryan came to Florida as a three-star prospect out of Wyoming in the 2014 recruiting class. He outplayed his high school ranking with the Gators where he tallied 62 tackles, 10.5 for a loss, 5.5 sacks, one interception, three fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.
He is also no longer with the Jaguars like Henderson. The origination let him walk during free agency this offseason where he eventually signed with the Cleveland Browns. With Jacksonville, he made 86 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, a forced fumble and 25 quarterback hits.
Dante Fowler Jr., DE, 2015, No. 3
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Another former Florida player who didn’t exactly pan out with the Jaguars. He was a stud with the Gators, recording 140 tackles, 33 for a loss, 14.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries during his three-year career.
After being drafted third overall by the Jaguars, he missed his entire rookie season after suffering a torn ACL in rookie minicamp. Fowler never found traction with the Jaguars and was eventually traded midway through his third season to the Los Angeles Rams. With Jacksonville, he tallied five pass deflections, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, 53 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 14 sacks and 22 quarterback hits.
Derrick Harvey, DE, 2008, No. 8
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Jacksonville went almost 10 years between drafting Florida players after drafting Harvey with the No. 8 overall in 2008. He finished his three-year career with the Gators by making 90 tackles, 31.5 tackles for loss, 20.5 sacks, six pass deflections, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
Harvey also was a bust for the Jaguars. He only lasted three seasons with the team and another with the Denver Broncos then disappeared from the NFL entirely. He made one interception, five pass deflections, two fumble recoveries, eight sacks, 92 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss and 21 quarterback hits.
Reggie Nelson, S, 2007, No. 21
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Nelson fared much better in the NFL than Harvey. He only played two seasons with Florida. He recorded 97 tackles, six for a loss, four sacks and seven interceptions.
He lasted 12 seasons in the NFL, including three with the Jaguars. With Jacksonville, he completed seven picks while also tallying 20 pass deflections, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one sack, 187 tackles, two for a loss and four quarterback hits.
Fred Taylor, RB, 1998, No. 9
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Finally, a Florida player that the Jaguars took that actually worked out. Taylor is arguably the best running back the franchise has ever had. He played four years with the Gators, racking up 3,075 yards and 31 touchdowns on 537 attempts. He also caught 67 passes for 717 yards.
The Jaguars used the No. 9 overall pick on Taylor. He lasted 11 years with Jacksonville before spending his final two with the New England Patriots. He recorded 11,271 rushing yards and 62 touchdowns. He hauled in 286 passes for 2,361 yards and eight touchdowns.
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