NFL Draft: State colleges, Dade/Broward high school picks


Florida State Defensive end Jermaine Johnson II stands with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being chosen by the New York Jets with the 26th pick of the NFL football draft Thursday, April 28, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)


The 2022 NFL Draft was pretty good to the Florida Gators, who had three players selected, including one in the first round.

Florida State can also brag about having a first-rounder. UCF had one player picked, late in the sixth round, and the Miami Hurricanes had a seventh-rounder.

But that was it in an off year for Florida colleges.

Dade/Broward high schools fared relatively well as four from that category got selected, including three in the second round. In fact, two South Florida players were chosen on consecutive picks in Round 2.

Here’s a closer look at the non-University of Miami players with local ties who got selected:

Florida cornerback Kair Elam went in the first round, 23rd overall, to the Bills. Elam was Florida’s eighth first-rounder in the past nine years.

FSU defensive end Jermaine Johnson II was picked in the first round, 26th overall, by the New York Jets. ESPN’s Mel Kiper had him ranked 11th overall. The Jets had him eighth on their board, and they traded up to get him.

The Seminoles have had at least one player drafted in 39 consecutive drafts, the eighth-longest streak in the nation. They have had 46 first-rounders, which ranks top 10 among all programs.

Johnson was the ACC Player of the Year and a first-team All-American in 2021, producing 18 tackles for losses and 12 sacks. He had five TFL and three sacks against Miami.

In the second round, at pick No. 50, wide receiver Tyquan Thornton was selected by the Patriots. Thornton, who played at Miami’s Booker T. Washington, had a career year at Baylor in 2021, catching 62 passes for 948 yards and 10 touchdowns. He made second-team All-Big-12 and left Baylor top 10 in program history in receiving yards and touchdowns.

In the second round, at No. 63, ex-Miami Central running back James Cook was picked up by the Bills. He won a national title with the Georgia Bulldogs last season, and a Super Bowl title with Buffalo is now within his grasp.

In 2021, Cook had career highs in yards rushing (728) and touchdowns (seven). He averaged 6.7 yards per rush.

The next pick went to the Broncos, who picked ex-St. Thomas Aquinas defensive end Nik Bonitto, who played his college ball at Oklahoma. In the past three years, he produced 33 tackles for losses, 19.5 sacks, seven passes defensed and three turnovers.

Bonitto started 30 consecutive games to close his career, making second-team All-American in 2020 and third-team All-American in 2021.

In the third round, at pick 95, Florida defensive tackle Zachary Carter went to the Bengals. Carter, who had 7.5 sacks last year, is a high-motor defender who is expected to compete for rotational playing time immediately.

In the fourth round, at pick No. 107, Florida running back Dameon Pierce was picked by the Texans. He rushed for 574 yards and a 5.7 average in 2021.

In the sixth round, at No. 217, ex-American Heritage linebacker James Houston was picked by the Lions. He started his college career at Florida but finished at Jackson State.

In the sixth round, at No. 220, UCF got on the board with defensive tackle Kalia Davis getting selected by the 49ers.

Kiper said Davis would’ve been a second- or third-round pick had he not suffered a season-ending knee injury last year. Davis, who came to UCF as a linebacker, also missed the 2020 season due to COVID concerns.

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