Photo courtesy of Florida Athletics
Just minutes ago, former Florida defensive end Jabari Zuniga became the newest member of the New York Jets.
The Jets selected Zuniga with the 79th pick in the 3rd round. Zuniga becomes the first Florida defensive end drafted since Alex McCalister in 2016. He’s the highest selected at that position since Dante Fowler Jr. went third overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2015.
Accolades and Numbers
Listed at 6-4 and nearly 250 pounds, Zuniga was a 4-year contributor for the Gators. Throughout the course of his career, Zuniga finished with 118 total tackles, 34.5 tackles for loss and 18.5 sacks.
Regarded more as an edge setter than a pass rusher, Zuniga was preseason All-SEC in 2019. Unfortunately, injuries limited him to five games.
Zuniga’s best season came as a junior in 2018. That year, he started in all 13 games and recorded 6.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss. Midway through the year, he was named to the Ted Hendricks Award watch list. He is the third Florida player selected in this year’s draft.
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What the Experts are Saying
His fast pursuit, athletic frame and toughness are all noted as his strengths but his listed weaknesses are somewhat concerning. Among them are no definitive positional fit, below-average instincts and late activation that turns sacks into pressures.
– Lauren Reynolds, Rivals
Zuniga was a terrific defensive lineman at Florida and offers possibilities as a defensive end in a four-man front who can occasionally kick inside to tackle. He must physically mature and improve his strength at the point of attack, but Zuniga’s approach to the game and fundamentals will help him succeed at the next level.
– Tony Pauline, Pro Football Focus