Chad Jackson – Entering the draft, many analysts projected Jackson to be one of the top receivers entering the NFL. Hailing from Hoover, Alabama, he certainly lived up to the hype in college after posting 1,147 yards and 14 touchdowns during his senior year at Hoover High School.
Jackson showed consistent improvement at Florida, beginning when he saw action in all 13 games as a true freshman, including four at receiver for 144 total plays. He was the only true freshman receiver to score a touchdown, and one of only eight receivers in school history to score a touchdown as a true freshman.
As a sophomore, Jackson played in all 12 games, starting in three. He averaged 22.3 yards per catch that season, setting a school record. Jackson was one of only two wideouts to catch a pass in every Florida game in the 2004 season.
He had a breakout season in 2005, logging 88 receptions for 900 yards. With nine touchdowns, Jackson averaged a TD every 9.8 catches. His 88 grabs tied Florida's single-season record and ranked him first in the South Eastern Conference for the season. His hands were football-magnets last year, too – Jackson caught 96 percent of the passes thrown to him and his average of 7.33 receptions per game was the seventh best in the nation.
The Patriots must have been impressed with his play last season. They traded the 20th pick of the second round and the 11th of the third round to get the fourth pick of the second, where they selected Jackson 36th overall. Denver had the 37th pick and was reportedly eyeing Jackson as well.
As a Florida Gator, Jackson played in all of Florida's 37 games during his three seasons there. He tallied 120 receptions, including at least one per game for his last 24 games, the second-longest streak in the SEC. At only 21 years of age, Jackson looks to continue improving as he enters the NFL.
Jackson could earn a starting spot this season if Reche Caldwell isn't up to snuff or Deion Branch holds out, but he's not looking to get ahead of himself.
"I'm not expecting anything right now," he said. "I'm not expecting to take any spots or any positions or anything like that. I just want to contribute as much as I can."
It seems he's going to take things one step at a time, but if he plays his cards right, he could find himself stepping into a sweet-smelling pile of playing time.
Jeremy Mincey – The Patriots selected Mincey in the sixth-round of the NFL draft, 191st overall. He was a key member of Florida's defense last year, playing defensive end for coachUrban Meyer, but it seems likely he'll make the move to linebacker in the NFL.
Meyer has said that the leadership he got from Mincey was important to the defense, helping to hold the team together during some tough times at midseason.
"I feel privileged that I got to play under Coach Meyer," said Mincey recently.
Mincey led all SEC defensive lineman in 2005 with 61 tackles. He also had 10.5 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks for a total loss of 79 yards, as well as recovering a fumble.
He arrived at Florida for the 2004 season after playing well in junior college in Kansas. He started every game and led all defensive lineman by seeing action in 688 plays. He was named the University of Florida's "Outstanding Defensive Lineman," that year and only improved in 2005.
Mincey also seems to be looking forward to playing with Jackson again, saying, "Chad's the kind of guy that if you give him the ball, he's going to make plays for you. I'd be real happy playing with him."
"What makes me different is I'm a guy that works hard," said Jackson. "You can talk to all of my old coaches. They will tell you that I'm a hard worker. I have great character, and I am willing to do what it takes to go out there and win."
With any luck, both Jackson and Mincey could transition from helping the Gators win to helping the Patriots win in 2006.