(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Defense the Focus for Florida Teams in NFL Draft 1st Round

The first round of the 2018 NFL Draft is in the books. While a lot of the attention was on the quarterbacks, the three teams from Florida each took defensive players with their first round pick.

Dolphins Get Their DB

With the 11th overall pick, Miami selected Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick.

There had been rumors about the Dolphins possibly taking a quarterback, but that was out of the picture once Arizona traded up just in front of them to take Josh Rosen at No. 10.

Instead, the run on quarterbacks in first ten picks (four selected) meant an elite defensive player like Fitzpatrick fell in the Dolphins lap. Fitzpatrick was rated as the top safety in the draft after winning the Chuck Bednarik Award as the nation’s best defensive player, and is coming off anchoring a defense that led Alabama to yet another national championship.

Fitzpatrick joins an safety group that includes Rashad Jones and T.J. McDonald and a defense that ranked 15th against the pass in 2017.

Bucs Beef Up D-Line

Picking right after the Dolphins with the 12th overall pick, Tampa Bay selected Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea.

The 6’5″, 340 pound lineman is an absolute beast up front, as he racked up 44 tackles and 3.5 sacks last season for Pac-12 champion Washington.

His addition gives the Buccaneers a formidable group up front, as Vea joins a group that includes star lineman Gerald McCoy, Vinny Curry, and Jason-Pierre Paul.

Gainesville to Jacksonville Connection

The Jaguars found themselves picking towards the back end of the first round for the first time in a while, coming off their AFC Championship Game appearance. The defense was a big part of that, and the Jags beefed it up even more by taking Florida defensive lineman Taven Bryan with the 29th overall pick. The pick continues a history of Gators going to Jacksonville in the first round, with the most recent one being Dante Fowler in 2015.

Bryan goes from a stacked defensive line at Florida to a stacked defensive line in Jacksonville that includes Fowler, Calais Campbell, Marcell Dareus, and Malik Jackson. The latter three will all be commanding top-dollar contracts in upcoming offseasons, so Bryan give them good depth for now while also providing insurance for when the Jags have to make tough free-agency decisions.

Still, Bryan should be able to come in and make an impact immediately, as he was one of the most productive lineman in the country last season.


About Jonathan Acosta

Native New Englander. Follow me on Twitter: @jonacosta_10

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