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What Florida means to tonight’s NFL Draft

Only 32 players will hear their name called tonight when the 2013 NFL Draft kicks off from Radio City Music Hall in New York. For those lucky 32, Draft Night is one they won’t soon forget, but for the teams and executives scrambling last minute to find the player that best fits their team, this weekend is a hectic, make-or-break event that could push a team toward long term contention or drop them further down the standings. But in a draft big on depth but not on star talent, two teams from Florida could be key players in determining how this evening plays out.

Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel is widely expected to be the first name called tonight when the Kansas City Chiefs kick off the draft. Joeckel would be the first lineman drafted first overall since the Miami Dolphins selected Jake Long in 2008. But even that’s not a guarantee, showing just how much uncertainty will be prevalent in tonight’s draft. The Jacksonville Jaguars draft second, and could look at a wide range of players, from Central Michigan’s offensive lineman Eric Fisher, to Oregon pass-rushing specialist Dion Jordan. Jags head coach Gus Bradley says his team needs to find talent in the trenches.

Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins have made significant noise this offseason, with a slew of offensive signings like Pittsburgh’s Mike Wallace and New York’s Dustin Keller to surround second year quarterback Ryan Tannehill with more weapons. The Dolphins currently hold the 12th pick, but rumors have swirled about them either trading up or down tonight. Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland has targeted a select group of players at 12, but says he needs to keep his options open this evening.

But it’s Tampa Bay who as of now will miss the first round of the NFL Draft, after they traded their 13th pick away to the New York Jets for star cornerback Darrelle Revis. But in a draft full of teams looking to move down, don’t be surprised if they sneak back into the first round.

Meanwhile, Gators head coach Will Muschamp doesn’t have to deal with the stress of draft weekend, but he’ll definitely be keeping an eye out to see where his former players land.

Defensive tackle Shariff Floyd is a projected top 10 pick, while safety Matt Elam looks like he might be drafted in the first round as well. Only the first round is tonight, rounds 2-3 will take place tomorrow night, and the remainder of the draft happens Saturday afternoon. It’s a weekend full of intrigue and excitement, and it all gets started on ESPN at 8pm tonight with the first round.

About Marc Whiteman

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