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Dolphins take 3 ex-Gators on final day of draft

Saturday - 4/27/2013, 9:44pm  ET

An NFL official holds up a card containing the Miami Dolphins' selection of Utah State's Will Davis, the 93rd overall, during the third round of the NFL football draft, Friday, April 26, 2013, at Radio City Music Hall in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

STEVEN WINE
AP Sports Writer

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) -- On the final day of the NFL draft, the Miami Dolphins kept taking the best available Gator.

Miami added a former University of Florida player on offense, defense and special teams Saturday. Heading south from Gainesville will be linebacker Jelani Jenkins, running back Mike Gillislee and place-kicker Caleb Sturgis.

Jenkins was selected in the fourth round, and Gillislee and Sturgis were acquired two picks apart in the fifth round.

"Going to turn the Dolphins into UF," tweeted Miami center Mike Pouncey, a Florida alum. "I will be handing out gator shirts to all my teammates this coming up week lol."

The Dolphins might not win the AFC East, but they would be tough to beat in the SEC East.

"A little theme today: Florida Gators," general manager Jeff Ireland said. "We didn't plan on drafting three players from Florida, but they sat there and we knew them, and we have great comfort with them, and they're good players."

Miami went outside the state to add tight end Dion Sims of Michigan State in the fourth round, and defensive back Don Jones of Arkansas State in the seventh round.

Jenkins had hoped to be drafted in the first round, but an injury-plagued final season at Florida hurt his stock. He was limited to nine games in 2012, when he broke his thumb, battled a hamstring injury and broke his foot, which required surgery and kept him out of the Sugar Bowl.

The 6-foot, 237-pound Jenkins played both middle and outside linebacker for the Gators. Playing in the SEC should make the transition to the pros easier, he said.

"Every week was like an NFL game, it seemed like," he said. "There was never really a week off."

Gillislee rushed for 1,152 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry in his career and totaled 22 touchdowns.

The 208-pound Gillislee will compete for a roster spot after starter Reggie Bush departed to Detroit via free agency. Lamar Miller is expected to be Miami's starter this year.

"The Dolphins were always my favorite team," said Gillislee, a native of DeLand, Fla. "It was always a dream, and now my dream came true."

Sturgis was on the golf course when he learned the Dolphins had drafted him -- and well aware two of his college teammates were also Miami-bound.

"That's awesome," Sturgis said. "They're both great dudes. I can't wait to watch them succeed."

Sturgis could provide an economical alternative to incumbent Dan Carpenter, who has made 82 percent of his field goals over the past five years but is scheduled to make $3 million in 2013.

"I'm definitely excited about it," Sturgis said. "Coming into the league, you know you have to compete against the best. I've seen Dan kick, and he has got an unbelievable leg. I just can't wait to get in and compete against him."

Sturgis was good on a school record 70 of 88 attempts in his college career, including 24 of 33 from 40 yards and beyond.

The Dolphins devoted four of their first five draft picks to defense. Pass rusher Dion Jordan of Oregon was their first-round choice Thursday, and Miami took the eighth and 16th cornerbacks drafted -- Jamar Taylor of Boise State in the second round, and Will Davis of Utah State in the third.

Taylor and Davis will compete for a starting job after the departure of Sean Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs via free agency.

Guard-tackle Dallas Thomas of Tennessee, drafted in the third round, is a candidate to replace Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long, who departed to the St. Louis Rams via free agency. Six tackles were taken ahead of Thomas, including three of the first four picks.

Overall, Ireland said, the Dolphins used the draft to upgrade in multiple areas.

"We've gotten faster in a lot of different areas," he said. "We've added some playmakers, we've added some depth, and we've got great competition with some players we've added. We've reshaped the roster in some different ways."

Jordan, who attended the draft in New York, flew to Miami for his first news conference as an NFL player. He smiled when asked if he liked the attention he has been getting.

"It's different, man, honestly," he said. "At the University of Oregon the defensive players don't get much love."

The 6-foot-7 Jordan, so tall he hunched over the lectern to get close to the microphone, played outside linebacker in the Ducks' 4-3 scheme but is projected as a defensive end with Miami. He said he weighs a career-high 250 pounds and plans to put on more so he can hold his own against NFL linemen.

"I feel like I can play with the same speed and the same motor right around 260," Jordan said. "I know it's something that I have to do."

To the surprise of Jordan and many draft pundits, the Dolphins moved up nine spots to No. 3 overall to take him.

"I was shocked. I was happy. I was overwhelmed," Jordan said.


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