NFL Draft: Georgia's 2021 title team has now produced 26 total picks, including 7 first-rounders on defense
Back in 2021, Georgia broke a title drought of more than 40 years when it defeated Alabama to win the College Football Playoff national championship.
The Bulldogs, who repeated with another national title last season, were led by what has become known as one of the best defenses in college football history. The star players from that defense have reentered the spotlight this week at the 2023 NFL Draft.
Five more members of that 2021 Georgia defense were drafted this week, including two in the first round to the Philadelphia Eagles. Defensive tackle Jalen Carter, who wasn’t even a starter on that 2021 title team, was selected by the Eagles at No. 9 overall. And then, at No. 30, the Eagles picked edge rusher Nolan Smith.
The Eagles weren’t done there. With the third pick of the fourth round, the Eagles picked cornerback Kelee Ringo, who sealed the national title victory with a pick 6 in the final minutes of the win over Alabama.
Later on, two more stalwarts from that defense came off the board when safety Christopher Smith and linebacker Robert Beal Jr. both were selected in the fifth round. Smith was chosen with pick No. 170 by the Las Vegas Raiders. Beal went three picks later to the San Francisco 49ers.
Ameer Speed, who transferred from Georgia to Michigan State for his final season of college football, was selected in the sixth round by the New England Patriots.
Including Speed, 14 players from the 2021 Georgia defense have now been drafted into the NFL. That’s the entire starting lineup, plus three others.
The eight Georgia defenders drafted in the 2022 NFL Draft were Travon Walker, Jordan Davis, Quay Walker, Devonte Wyatt, Lewis Cine, Nakobe Dean, Channing Tindall and Derion Kendrick.
Travon Walker, Davis, Quay Walker, Wyatt and Cine were all first-round picks. In all, there were seven first-round draft picks on that defense.
That’s an incredible collection of talent.
Don’t forget about the offense
While the defense has gotten the majority of the headlines for Georgia in recent years, the Bulldogs have had some excellent players on offense as well.
Over the last two drafts, 11 players from the 2021 national championship offense have been selected. Six players were drafted in 2022, and five more were chosen this week.
Only one of those players went in the first round. Broderick Jones, an offensive tackle, was chosen with the 14th pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night.
The other offensive players from that team have mainly gone in the middle or later rounds.
In 2022, receiver George Pickens and running back James Cook were selected in the second round. Another running back, Zamir White, went in the fourth before offensive linemen Justin Shaffer and Jamaree Salyer and tight end John FitzPatrick were all selected in the sixth round.
In this year’s draft, tight end Darnell Washington joined Jones in Pittsburgh when he was picked in the third round at No. 93 overall. In the fourth round, quarterback Stetson Bennett was selected by the Los Angeles Rams at 128th.
Warren McClendon, an offensive tackle, will remain as one of Bennett’s teammates. The Rams used the 174th pick to add McClendon. And then, in the seventh round, running back Kenny McIntosh was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks with the 237th pick.
That means the final tally from the 2021 Georgia national championship team is 26 drafted players — 14 drafted players on defense, 11 drafted players on offense and one on special teams in punter Jake Camarda. Camarda was a fourth-round selection of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2022 draft.
Drafted players from Georgia's 2021 national championship team
T Broderick Jones (2023: 1, 14)
WR George Pickens (2022: 2, 52)
RB James Cook (2022: 2, 63)
TE Darnell Washington (2023: 3, 93)
RB Zamir White (2022: 4, 122)
QB Stetson Bennett (2023: 4, 128)
T Warren McClendon (2023: 5, 174)
G Justin Shaffer (2022: 6, 190)
G Jamaree Salyer (2022: 6, 195)
TE John FitzPatrick (2022: 6, 213)
RB Kenny McIntosh (2023: 7, 237)
DE Travon Walker (2022: 1, 1)
DT Jalen Carter (2023: 1, 9)
DT Jordan Davis (2022: 1, 13)
LB Quay Walker (2022: 1, 22)
DT Devonte Wyatt (2022: 1, 28)
LB Nolan Smith (2023: 1, 30)
S Lewis Cine (2022: 1, 32)
LB Nakobe Dean (2022: 3, 83)
LB Channing Tindall (2022: 3, 102)
CB Kelee Ringo (2023: 4, 105)
S Christopher Smith (2023: 5, 170)
LB Robert Beal (2023: 5, 173)
CB Derion Kendrick (2022: 6, 212)
CB Ameer Speed (2023: 6, 214) — Transferred to Michigan State
P Jake Camarda (2022: 4, 133)