Montez Sweat of Mississippi State is projected as a first-round pick on Thursday in the NFL Draft. Sweat played high school ball at Stephenson in DeKalb County.
Photo: Mississippi State Athletics
Photo: Mississippi State Athletics

20 Georgians to watch in NFL Draft: Sweat should go first round

Only 12 former Georgia high school players went in the NFL Draft in 2018, but expect a big comeback for state players starting Thursday, when the 2019 Draft begins in Nashville.

There were 24 Georgia players invited to the NFL Combine this year, and another handful have been projected as late-round picks by at least one projected draft board. 

The state has averaged 19.1 players in the draft this decade and hit 29 in 2017 and a record 30 in 2015.

The most likely first-round pick from Georgia is Montez Sweat, a defensive end from Mississippi State by way of Stephenson in DeKalb County. Sweat likely will become the 10th Stephenson alumnus to make the NFL and would be the second first-round pick after Bruce Irvin in 2012. 

Temple cornerback Rock Ya-Sin of Southwest DeKalb and Georgia linebacker D’Andre Walker of Langston Hughes are possible first-round picks but more likely to go in the second or third rounds. At least one former Georgia player has gone in the first round each season since 2008.

Here are 20 of the more likely draft choices from Georgia listed roughly in the order they might be taken. The draft runs through Saturday:

DE - Montez Sweat, Stephenson (Mississippi State): rates him the No. 6 player in the draft, but his stock has dropped in recent days because of concerns over college injuries. He was an FWAA and TSN first-team All-American. Just a three-star recruit out of high school, when he was projected as a tight end.

CB - Rock Ya-Sin, Southwest DeKalb (Temple): Lightly recruited, began college career at Presbyterian. Physicality is his best trait, says Likely second- or third-round pick.

LB - D’Andre Walker, Langston Hughes (Georgia): Four-star recruit, became full-time starter as a senior and was Georgia’s top pass-rushing threat. Likely second- or third-round pick.

DE - Austin Bryant, Thomas County Central (Clemson): Four-star recruit out of high school, 35 career tackles for losses, won a national title, was first-team All-American by FWAA in 2017. Likely to go in first four rounds.

WR - Mecole Hardman, Elbert County (Georgia): He was the All-America return specialist for ESPN and Athlon. He was an AJC Super 11 pick in 2015, when he was the state’s best rushing quarterback. Saturday is ‘’Mecole Hardman Day’’ in his hometown of Bowman. Expected to be a mid-round pick.

G - Chuma Edoga, McEachern (Southern Cal): An AJC Super 11 choice in 2014. Two-year starter at tackle for USC; projected as an NFL guard. Projected mid-round pick.

WR - Darius Slayton, Greater Atlanta Christian (Auburn): Had 79 receptions for 1,605 yards and 11 touchdowns in three seasons at Auburn. Projected mid-round pick.

LB - Tre Lamar, Roswell (Clemson): An AJC Super 11 pick in 2015, was classification defensive player of the year on a state finalist. Projected mid-round pick.

T - Mitch Hyatt, North Gwinnett (Clemson): Hyatt is the only former Georgia high school player who was a consensus first-team All-American in 2018. He was an AJC Super 11 pick in 2014. Likely mid- to late-pick.

TE - Isaac Nauta, Buford (Georgia): Nauta grew up in Georgia and played at Buford before finishing up at IMG Academy in Florida. Consensus No. 1 tight end out of high school. Had 68 receptions for 905 yards and eight touchdowns in three college seasons. Projected to go in later rounds.

RB - Elijah Holyfield, Woodward Academy (Georgia): An AJC Super 11 pick in 2015. Rushed for 1,018 yards as a senior at Georgia. Projected to go in later rounds.

DT - Dontavius Russell, Carrollton (Auburn): Four-year starter on the Plains, 154 career tackles, 49 starts.

WR - Jakobi Meyers, Arabia Mountain (N.C. State): Had 92 receptions for 1,047 yards and four touchdowns as a senior. Would be first NFL player from this DeKalb school.

G - Tyler Jones, Stephenson (N.C. State): Started his final three seasons in Raleigh. 

LB - Terez Hall, M.L. King (Missouri): Five sacks and nine tackles for losses for Missouri last season.

DE - Jonathan Ledbetter, Tucker (Georgia): Two-year starter at Georgia. Top-100 national prospect in high school.

T - Donnell Greene, Kell (Minnesota): Three-year starter after beginning college career at Coffeyville Community College. Played on Kell’s 13-1 state semifinal team in 2013.

WR - Terry Godwin, Callaway (Georgia): Five-star recruit and an AJC Super 11 pick in 2014. 

CB - Montre Hartage, Crisp County (Northwestern): Would be first Crisp County player taken in draft since Bernard Ford in 1988.

QB - Nick Fitzgerald, Richmond Hill (Mississippi State): Passed for 6,055 yards and rushed for 3,504 in college. Was little known in high school.


CB - Blace Brown, Cherokee (Troy) 

CB - Ken Webster, Stockbridge (Mississippi)

DE - Darryl Johnson, Camden County (North Carolina AT&T)

LB - Bryson Allen-Williams, Cedar Grove (South Carolina) 

DT - Isaiah Mack, Northwest Whitfield (Chattanooga)

DT - Cortez Boughton, Veterans (Cincinnati)

LB - Anree Saint-Amour, North Gwinnett (Georgia Tech)

DB - Micah Abernathy, Greater Atlanta Christian (Tennessee)

WR - Penny Hart, King's Ridge (Georgia State)

P - A.J. Cole, Woodward Academy (N.C. State)

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