Florida WR Ricky Pearsall selected in first round of 2024 NFL draft

The first round of the 2024 NFL draft featured a few surprises, including the selection of Florida Gators wide receiver Ricky Pearsall by the San Francisco 49ers with the 31st pick.

Pearsall’s draft stock increased dramatically in the months leading up to the draft. A strong performance during Senior Bowl practices and an equally impressive performance at the combine moved him up several draft boards.

Offensive players — especially quarterbacks and receivers — flew off the board early this year. By the time San Francisco’s pick came up, five receivers had already heard their names called, and Pearsall likely wouldn’t have lasted until the late second or early third round, where he fell in most mock drafts.

“We know we do well when we have a consensus from scouting, coaching and R&D, and we really had that with Ricky,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “He’s a guy, throughout the process, we liked early and it kept getting stronger.”

“Does a lot of things well. Does a lot of things we covet at that position well. we believe we have a real strong (receivers) group there, and we wanted to add another player.”

San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan also spoke highly of Pearsall, adding he has enough versatility in his game to make a difference on special teams.

Pearsall’s first-round selection made it five years in a row that Florida had a Day 1 pick. He’s the highest-drafted Florida receiver since Kadarius Toney came off the board at No. 20 in the 2021 draft.

Pearsall’s collegiate journey

A three-star recruit out of high school, Pearsall made noise in three seasons at Arizona State, leaving as a top-10 receiver in the Pac-12, in terms of receiving yards.

He joined Florida in the first year of Billy Napier’s tenure, starting all 25 games over the past two seasons. He leaves the Gators with 1,626 yards and nine touchdowns on 98 receptions. Pearsall finished with more than 2,400 yards over his five-year career.

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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire