The Georgia Bulldogs have added to their list of current NFL players thanks to a draft class for the ages. Georgia enters the countdown at No. 3 in the top group of alums playing in the NFL.
Five players off the Bulldogs’ suffocating national championship defense went in the first round while 15 members of the national championship team were selected. There are four players off the 2021 Georgia defense among the 12 players with the best NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year odds according to the NFL betting lines.
Even before the addition of Travon Walker, Jordan Davis, Quay Walker, Devonte Wyatt, Lewis Cine, and some of the other 2022 draftees, there was already plenty of Georgia representation in the NFL with seven first-round picks in the previous four drafts.
Here’s a breakdown of the storylines involving Georgia products currently in the NFL.
Best position – Running Back
This could change based on how quickly the 2022 draft picks adapt to the NFL. However, at the current time, it is pretty hard to top the trio of former Georgia running backs who have made an impact in the NFL.
Nick Chubb of the Cleveland Browns was a steal when he fell into the early second round in 2018. Chubb’s 4,816 rushing yards are the most of the 2018 draftees.
If Chubb had four more yards as a rookie, he would be going for his fifth straight 1,000-yard rushing season. Not even missing seven games over the last two seasons has slowed his surge. Chubb is averaging 5.3 yards per rushing attempt. Among running backs in NFL history, only Marion Motley and Jamaal Charles have better numbers in that department.
According to the NFL predictions, Chubb has the fourth-best odds among running backs to be the NFL Offensive Player of the Year.
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) August 2, 2022
Chubb was picked four spots after Sony Michel in 2018. Michel might not have any 1,000-yard seasons yet, but he does have a pair of Super Bowl rings. His average of 970 yards over a 17-game stretch is proof that he isn’t far from hitting the 1,000-yard mark. Michel is about to play for his third team in as many years as he went from New England to the Los Angeles Rams and is now with the Miami Dolphins.
During the 2020 draft, De’Andre Swift was picked at exactly the same point (No. 35) as Chubb. With 265 carries in 26 games, he hasn’t exactly been a workhorse for the Detroit Lions. Like Chubb, he is also a threat in the passing game with 108 receptions in his first two seasons.
For those who bet online and are looking for a breakout candidate, Swift has a projected total of 1,400.5 yards from scrimmage during the upcoming season.
There are more running backs on the way with James Cook going to Buffalo in the second round and Zamir White a fourth-round pick by the Raiders in the 2022 draft.
Smith the Latest Star Linebacker in the Windy City
Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary are among the elite linebackers who rose to prominence with the Chicago Bears.
While it is premature to mention Roquan Smith in the same breath as those Hall of Famers, Smith has certainly made quite the impression since being taken eighth overall in the 2018 NFL Draft.
He has four straight 100-tackle seasons. When he has appeared in every regular-season game, he has recorded 89, 98 and 95 solo tackles. He also has 14 sacks, five interceptions and 43 tackles for loss.
A big payday is coming for Smith.
He is not alone. Tae Crowder is coming off a 130-tackle season for the New York Giants in 2021, which is pretty impressive stuff for a seventh-round pick in the 2020 draft.
Azeez Ojulari is coming off a rookie season when he had eight sacks for the Giants. Lorenzo Carter had 153 tackles and 14½ sacks in his first four NFL seasons while playing with the Giants. He was among the linebackers added by the rebuilding Atlanta Falcons during the offseason.
Second-year cornerbacks ready to shine
Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell were picked 29th and 33rd by Green Bay and Jacksonville in the 2021 draft.
The two highly regarded cornerbacks combined for 128 tackles, 24 pass breakups, and three interceptions while starting 14 games each.
The best could yet to come as they enter their second NFL seasons.
Stokes figures to be tested early and often with Jaire Alexander returning from an injury-shortened 2021 season for Green Bay while Campbell is one of the young players the perpetually rebuilding Jaguars are counting on.
Looking into the future
Here’s a look at the players drafted out of Georgia with the brightest NFL futures.
- Roquan Smith, Chicago Bears LB: The Bears are lacking in playmakers but Smith is one of Chicago’s best performers. He is an impact player against the run, when he drops into coverage and as a pass rusher.
- Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns RB: The Browns finished fourth in the NFL in rushing in 2021 and Chubb is one of the main reasons for that. When a Cleveland running back averages more yards per carry than Jim Brown, that is certainly a noteworthy achievement.
- Travon Walker, Jacksonville Jaguars DL: It will be interesting to see how Jacksonville uses the versatile Walker who was picked first overall in this year’s draft.
Walker was 10th on Georgia in tackles in 2021. However, Jacksonville saw enough potential to pass on Aidan Hutchinson and go with Walker’s potential as a difference maker on defense when it came time to make the top draft pick in April’s draft.
- Isaiah Wynn, New England Patriots OL: The New England offensive line has seen plenty of personnel changes in the last few years. Not many 6-foot-2 offensive tackles get selected in the first round but there are few regrets that New England went that route.
- Jordan Davis, Philadelphia Eagles DL: Davis has been making quite the impression in camp with the Eagles after going 13th overall in the 2022 draft. He will have a chance to play alongside Fletcher Cox for at least one season before likely replacing him in the near future.
Not all the talented Georgia defensive players were picked in the most recent draft. Defensive tackle Jalen Carter is showing up as a possible top-10 pick in the 2023 draft. Don’t be surprised to see him top his marks of 8½ tackles for loss and three sacks on the Bulldogs’ 2021 national championship team.
Linebacker Nolan Smith could be primed for a huge 2022 season with many players in the Georgia front seven has moved onto the NFL. Cornerback Kelee Ringo is another player who could work his way into the first round as well.
Once again, the defense is dominating when it comes to draft prospects. That will change when tight end Brock Bowers is available to be picked. It will be a while with Bowers coming off his true freshman campaign.