Jared Verse first Seminole off the board on Day 1 of NFL draft

Jared Verse became Florida State’s latest first-round pick when the Rams selected him with the No. 19 pick in Thursday night’s NFL draft.

Verse is the second former Seminole to be taken in the first round in the last five drafts. He joins Jermaine Johnson (No. 26 overall to the Jets in 2022). It’s a fitting comparison.

Mike Norvell recruited both edge rushers from the transfer portal. Johnson had been a rotational player at Georgia, Verse a late bloomer at Albany.

Both became stars. Johnson became the ACC’s defensive player of the year. His impact paved the way for FSU to add Verse, who was an all-conference performer in both of his seasons at FSU.

Verse, a 6-foot-4, 254-pound Ohio native, recorded 89 tackles (29 ½ for a loss) over 25 games. He added 18 sacks and 14 quarterback hurries.

He was considered a potential first-round pick last year but chose to remain at FSU for another season. It paid off. Verse dominated down the stretch as injuries limited the Seminoles’ offense. He had a pair of fourth-quarter sacks in a win at Florida and two more sacks in the ACC championship triumph over Louisville that secured a 13-0 record heading into bowl season. He opted out of the Orange Bowl debacle against Georgia.

The Athletic ranked him as the draft’s No. 20 prospect, while ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. put him 22nd. The Athletic said he’s “as disruptive as anyone in this class” when he uses his “relentless energy.” The site compared him to Lakewood High/Gators product Dante Fowler Jr., the former third overall pick who’s entering his ninth NFL season.

Verse is the 47th first-round pick in FSU history. He was the headliner in a class that’s expected to include at least nine picks and maybe as many as a dozen. Other early-round prospects include receiver Keon Coleman and defensive lineman Braden Fiske.

Gators also have a Day 1 selection

The Florida Gators’ top NFL draft prospect, Ricky Pearsall, was the penultimate pick of the first round, going to the 49ers at No. 31.

Pearsall was one of the brightest spots of Billy Napier’s tenure. The 6-foot-1, 191-pound Arizona native was a productive receiver at Arizona State that Napier landed from the transfer portal.

Over two seasons, Pearsall started 22 games. Last year, he led the team in catches (65) and yards. He came up 35 yards short of becoming Florida’s first 1,000-yard receiver in 21 years. He also averaged more than 11 yards on punt returns.

It’s the fifth consecutive season the Gators have had a player chosen in the first round. Pearsall was the sixth receiver taken in a class that’s loaded at the position.

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