It has been well-documented just how potent and fertile the football grounds are in South Florida.
Whether you want to dip as far down as Monroe County or climb as high as Palm Beach County, or just stay in the true “South Florida” – the two-county region of Miami-Dade and Broward Counties – there is no denying that the talent in the area seems to directly pump into the NFL.
As of the 2017-18 NFL season, there were 85 players from South Florida on active rosters. That number represents 5 percent of the active players in the league – an astonishing stat when you consider that Miami-Dade and Broward span less than 100 miles.
And if you included the entire state of Florida, the number of NFL players with roots in the Sunshine State would inflate to a nearly comically large proportion.
The fraternity of NFL players from South Florida grew again this past week after the 2018 NFL Draft. Of the 256 players that heard their names called over the three-day event, nine – or about 3 percent – played their high school football in South Florida.
Two South Florida high school alums had their names called by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell during the first round.
Former Coconut Creek Monarch receiver Calvin Ridley, who went on to set multiple records during his career at Alabama, was selected No. 26 overall by the Atlanta Falcons.
Plantation American Heritage alum and Broward’s No. 2 all-time rusher Sony Michel was drafted by the New England Patriots after finishing his highly-productive career at Georgia.
Again, if you expanded your definition of “South Florida” northward to Palm Beach, a third player would be added to list because the Baltimore Ravens made a draft night deal with the Philadelphia Eagles to select former Boynton Beach quarterback turned 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson No. 32 overall.
Six more players got their calls over the final two days of the draft.
Defensive players from the “305” were drafted in the second and third rounds with Miami Norland alum and physical cornerback Carlton Davis (Auburn) being taken by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the end of the second round No. 63 overall and former Miami Booker T. Washington five-star standout defensive lineman Chad Thomas (Miami) going early in the third round, No. 67 overall to the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns have made a concerted effort of drafting South Florida players recently.
Cleveland drafted Miami Norland’s Randy “Duke” Johnson back in 2015, took Miami Beach alum Ricardo Louis in 2016, and picked three more South Florida kids this year – Thomas in the third round, former Homestead/Booker T. Washington standout receiver Antonio Calloway (Florida) in round four and former Miami Carol City defensive back Simeon Thomas (Louisiana-Lafayette) in the sixth round.
They’ll join James Burgess Jr. (Homestead/Louisville) and newly signed linebacker Jermaine Grace (Miramar/Miami) in the “Dawg Pound”.
Another Booker T. alum heard his name called in the fourth round – running back Mark Walton, who had his junior season at Miami cut short with an ankle injury but impressed the Cincinnati Bengals enough for them to draft him No. 112 overall.
Former Davie University School quarterback Mike White received a call from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones during the fifth round. White led U-School to its first and only state football championship in 2012 and put together two very good seasons at Western Kentucky (8,540 total passing yards).
With nine players drafted in 2018 and the handful of others that have signed as undrafted rookie free agents (full list below); no matter who your favorite pro team is, they have some South Florida swagger on the roster.
Full list of native South Florida players that were either drafted or undrafted signees:
- No. 26 (Atlanta) – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama, Coconut Creek Monarch
- No. 31 (New England) – Sony Michel, RB, Georgia, Plantation American Heritage
- No. 32 (Baltimore) – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville, Boynton Beach
- No. 63 (Tampa Bay) – Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn, Miami Norland
- No. 67 (Cleveland) – Chad Thomas, DE, Miami, Miami Booker T. Washington
- No. 105 (Cleveland) – Antonio Calloway, WR, Florida, Booker T. Washington
- No. 112 (Cincinnati) – Mark Walton, RB, Miami, Booker T. Washington
- No. 171 (Dallas) – Mike White, QB, Western Kentucky, Davie University School
- No. 188 (Cleveland) – Simeon Thomas, DB, Louisiana-Lafayette, Carol City
Undrafted Rookie Free Agents
- Anthony Moten, DL, Miami, St. Thomas Aquinas – signed with Miami
- Brandon Powell, WR, Florida, Deerfield Beach – signed with Detroit
- Chris Lammons, DB, South Carolina, Plantation – signed with Atlanta
- Christian Blake, WR, Northern Illinois, Cardinal Gibbons – signed with Atlanta
- Deatrick Nichols, DB, South Florida, Miami Central – signed with Arizona
- Eddy Pineiro, PK, Florida, Miami Sunset – signed with Oakland
- Greg Howell, RB, Florida Atlantic, Coral Gables – signed with Miami
- John Franklin III, WR, Florida Atlantic, South Plantation – signed with Seattle
- Matthew Thomas, LB, Florida State, Booker T. Washington signed with Pittsburgh
- Quinton “Winky” Flowers, QB, South Florida, Miami Jackson – signed with Cincinnati
- Skai Moore, LB, South Carolina, Davie University School – signed with Indianapolis
- Steve Ishmael, WR, Syracuse, North Miami Beach – signed with Indianapolis
- Tarvarus McFadden, DB, Florida State, Plantation American Heritage – signed with San Francisco