The Sunshine State may have had a down season when it came to overall records in 2021, but the state of Florida was once again represented when it came to the first round of the NFL Draft.
With the 23rd pick, the Buffalo Bills selected former Florida Gators defensive back and Rivera Beach native Kaiir Elam.
Elam, a 6’2″ athlete who played at The Benjamin School before moving on to Gainesville, spent three seasons playing for the Gators and recorded three interceptions as a true freshman in 2019. He was named second-team All-SEC in 2020 and missed three games in 2021 before turning pro.
Elam, whose uncle Matt was also drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft in 2013 after playing college football at Florida, adds the the Gators trend of having a first-round pick in nine of the last 10 drafts.
Three picks later, another AFC East team went to the Sunshine State when the New York Jets selected former Florida State Seminoles defensive end Jermaine Johnson.
Johnson, a 6’5″ Minnesota native who played for the Georgia Bulldogs before transferring to FSU for his senior season, recorded 12 sacks in 2021 and was named the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Johnson becomes the first FSU player picked in the first round since 2019 and the first Seminole picked in the first round by the Jets since 1993.
The Miami Hurricanes, the only one of the state’s ‘Big Three’ programs to finish the 2021 season with a winning record, were again without a first-round pick for the fourth time in the last five drafts.
Rounds two and three of the NFL Draft will take place Friday while rounds four through seven will take place Saturday.