29 from Georgia whose names may be called in NFL Draft

NFL Draft: A look at every prospect from Georgia

Georgia produced 29 NFL Draft picks in 2017, the most of any state. That title is not likely to be defended successfully this week, when the NFL conducts its three-day draft for 2018. Larger states California, Texas and Florida are perennial favorites while Georgia’s average haul is typically more like 20.

But there are just as many Georgia players with a chance to be taken, according to The Football Database. Below is a list of the 29 Georgia players (coincidentally) that the website considers draft prospects from the state this year.

Almost all were good high school players, as one might expect. But most were not four- or five-star recruits. Only four were AJC Super 11 picks. Those were Nick Chubb, Trenton Thompson, Lorenzo Carter and Roquan Smith. All of those were five-star recruits who signed with Georgia. 

Most were not first-team all-state players. Many were not the best players on their own high school teams, and some didn’t even make their all-region teams.

The draft begins Thursday.

Running backs

Nick Chubb, Cedartown – Chubb, projected to go late second or early third round, left Georgia with 4,918 yards rushing, second in SEC history behind Herschel Walker. Chubb was a five-star recruit, the consensus No. 4 running back nationally, and a AJC Super 11 pick who rushed for over 2,500 yards in each of his final two high school seasons. He will go down as one of the state’s handful of best high school running backs in state history.

Justin Crawford, Hardaway  – Crawford, a likely free-agent signee, rushed for 1,082 yards as a senior and 1,203 as a junior at West Virginia. He was a three-star recruit but had an erratic, low-profile high school career. He first attended Northwest Mississippi Community College before making his mark with the Mountaineers.

Wide receivers

Michael Gallup, Monroe Area – Gallup, a consensus All-American projected to go in the middle rounds, had a remarkable 99 catches for 1,407 yards and seven touchdowns last season for coach Mike Bobo and Colorado State. He might’ve had an even better junior season with ‘’only’’ 1,240 receiving yards but 14 touchdowns. Gallup earned four letters in four sports (16 in all) at Monroe Area but was not a top prospect and played two seasons at Butler Community College. Gallup had 484 yards rushing and 637 receiving for 17 touchdowns on just 65 touches as a high school senior but was overshadowed on an 11-1 team that had two all-state 1,500-yard rushers. 

Tight ends

Jordan Akins, Union Grove – Akins, projected as a mid-round pick, had 32 receptions for 515 yards and four touchdowns for undefeated Central Florida last season. Akins was a dual-threat high school quarterback at Strong Rock Christian as a junior with over 1,500 total yards. He transferred to Union Grove for his senior season in 2009 and played quarterback and receiver, but he was probably a better baseball player. A third-round pick in the MLB June Draft, Akins played four seasons in the Texas organization before re-emerging as a football player at the school for which he originally signed in 2010.

Chris Herndon, Norcross – Herndon, also projected as a mid-round pick, had 40 catches for 477 yards last season for Miami and had over 1,000 receiving yards in his career for the Hurricanes. Herndon played on Norcross’ 2013 Class AAAAAA championship team and was a high school teammate of Georgia’s Lorenzo Carter and the Saints’ Alvin Kamara. Herndon had 33 catches for 543 yards and six touchdowns for the ‘13 Blue Devils and was a three-star prospect. 

Offensive linemen

Orlando Brown, Peachtree Ridge – Brown, who should go in the first two rounds, was a three-year starter at left tackle for Oklahoma and a unanimous first-team All-American in 2017. Brown was a good but not great high school player, but his size (now 6-8, 345) and athleticism (son of a 10-year NFL player) made him a three-star prospect, and he panned out even better than expected.

Colby Gossett, North Forsyth – Gossett, a potential late-round pick, started for most of four seasons and 46 straight games for Appalachian State, mostly at right guard, after red-shirting. He was a productive two-way starter at North Forsyth, an all-region and all-county pick, and a two-star prospect. His production and size – 6-6, 320 – helps makes him an NFL prospect five years later. North Forsyth has never had an NFL player. In fact, no player from Forsyth County has ever been picked in the NFL Draft.

Cory Helms, Milton – Helms, projected as a late-round pick or free-agent signee, earned freshman All-America honors for Wake Forest in 2013, when he made 11 starts at center as a true freshman. Helms transferred to South Carolina and started his final two seasons there, giving him 46 starts in 47 career games played. Helms was a three-star recruit and can become the third player from the 2012 Milton team to play in the NFL with Peyton Barber and Carl Lawson. Helms was a good high school player, but not generally considered even the best offensive lineman on his stacked high school team as a senior.

Defensive linemen

John Atkins, Thomson – Atkins, a likely late-round pick, was a consensus three-star recruit out of Thomson, although ESPNU rated him four stars. He was a good high school player, but not all-state, and lauded more for his potential. Atkins signed with Georgia but first spent a year at Hargrave Military. He wound up starting his final two seasons with the Bulldogs and was viewed as an unsung hero and defensive cornerstone on an SEC-championship team. 

Bradley Chubb, Hillgrove – Chubb is projected to be the first Georgia player taken, almost certainly in the top five overall. CBSSports.com is one of a few that forecast that he’ll go No. 1. Chubb had 10 sacks in each of his final two seasons at N.C. State and won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the nation’s best defensive player. Chubb was a three-star recruit in high school, not among the top 50 prospects in Georgia, and not an all-state player. Chubb was a high school teammate of current NFL players Evan Engram and Kenyan Drake. 

Justin Jones, South Cobb – Jones, projected as a late-round pick or free-agent signee, was Chubb’s N.C. State teammate. The two, both from Cobb County, have been friends since the seventh grade, and Jones was the higher-rated recruit, a consensus three-star, although Rivals and ESPN gave him four stars. Jones, an outstanding player on a weaker team in high school, could become South Cobb’s first NFL player since the late Kenny McKinney.

Arden Key, Hapeville Charter – Key has been projected anywhere from the first to the third round. He was viewed as a first-round pick a year ago but didn’t have a great senior season, though he still was all-SEC. Key was a Hapeville Charter’s first all-state player in 2014, an Under Armour All-American and a four-star recruit who rated as highly as the No. 24 overall prospect by ESPN. Key also played at M.L. King. Key likely will become Hapeville Charter’s first NFL player.

Jamiyus Pittman, Colquitt County – Pittman, projected as a late-round pick or free-agent signee, was a three-year starter with 13 career sacks at Central Florida, which finished undefeated last season. Pittman was a three-star recruit. Pittman was a key figure on Colquitt County’s semifinal teams of 2012 and 2013. He probably would’ve made all-state except for playing only eight games as a senior.

Mike Ramsay, Walker – Ramsay, projected as a late-round pick or free-agent signee, started his final 25 games at Duke and had a career-high 5.5 sacks as a senior and made third-team All-ACC. Ramsay was a four-year letterman at Class A Walker, which he helped bring to prominence. He was among Walker’s first-team all-state players in 2012, when the team finished 11-1. Ramsay was a two-star recruit, not considered among the state’s top 150 players as a prospect. Walker has never had an NFL player.

Trenton Thompson, Westover – Thompson, likely to go in the early to middle rounds, was the consensus No. 1 recruit in the country in 2015. He was an AJC Super 11 pick and the Class AAAA defensive player of the year. His three seasons at Georgia were good but unspectacular. He was the MVP of the Liberty Bowl in 2016 but essentially was a part-time starter throughout his career but still possessing the talent to declare early for the draft.

Linebackers

Davin Bellamy, Chamblee -- Bellamy, projected as a late-round pick or free-agent signee, was a fifth-year senior who started his final two seasons at Georgia. He was a four-star recruit who didn’t make all-state mainly because he was limited by injury as a senior. Chamblee hasn’t had an NFL player since San Francisco 49ers great Steve Wallace. 

Lorenzo Carter, Norcross – Carter, a likely second- or early third-round pick, was a second-team all-SEC player and key figure on Georgia’s SEC championship team in 2017. Carter, the consensus No. 1 recruit in Georgia in 2014, was a member of Norcross’ 2012 and 2013 state-championship teams along with current NFL running back Alvin Kamara. He was first-team all-state both of those seasons and was the Class AAAAAA defensive player of the year as a senior, when he had 40 tackles for losses. He was a five-star prospect. Also could’ve played D-I basketball.

Roquan Smith, Macon County – Virtually every projection has Roquan Smith going between the No. 8 and No. 12 overall picks in the draft. He was a consensus All-America middle linebacker, the 2017 SEC defensive player of the year and the 2017 Butkus Award winner at Georgia, where he played only three years. Smith was a beast in high school, too, a first-team all-state player as a junior and senior and the Class AA defensive player of the year in 2015. Smith was a four-star recruit and top-100 national prospect, although only the No. 6 prospect in Georgia in 2015. 

Defensive backs

Aaron Davis, Locust Grove – Davis, a likely free-agent signee, is a former walk-on who red-shirted, then became a four-year starter in Georgia’s secondary. Davis was injured in high school or likely would’ve been a more visible college recruit. He could become Locust Grove’s first NFL player.

Brandon Facyson, Northgate – Facyson, projected as a late-round pick or free-agent signee, was a three-year starter at Virginia Tech. He was a two-way starter on average high school teams, perhaps better as a wide receiver, and made all-county, but not all-state. He was a three-star recruit.

Rashard Fant, Our Lady of Mercy – Fant, a middle- to late-round projection, was a four-year starter at Indiana and second-team all-Big Ten as a senior. Fant was a high school teammate of Christian Coleman, the world indoor record-holder in the 60 meters, and nearly as fast. They were their team’s best football players. Fant did it all for Class A OLOM, scoring touchdowns on rushes, receptions and kick and punt returns. He was three-time all-state player and a three-star recruit.

Grant Haley, Lovett – Haley, a likely middle-round pick, was a three-year starter at Penn State. Haley was a four-year letterman at Lovett, where he is probably the school’s best player in history. Haley led the Atlanta private school to the Class AA title in 2013, when he rushed for more than 1,500 yards and 27 touchdowns and was AA offensive player of the year. He intercepted six passes as a cornerback. He was a three-star recruit. Lovett’s only other NFL player was Whit Marshall from the 1990s. 

Afolabi Laguda, Brookwood – Laguda, a likely free-agent signee, was Colorado’s starting free safety the past two seasons. As his Colorado bio notes, Laguda ‘’was a two-year starter at defensive back and wide receiver at Brookwood, though he suffered a broken fibula in his fifth game of his senior year that prevented him from earning any honors.’’ He was not highly recruited until he played a season at Butler Community College. 

Tray Matthews, Newnan – Matthews, projected as a late-round pick or free-agent signee, was a three-year starter at Auburn and the team’s leading tackler as a junior. Matthews was a four-star recruit and a consensus top-100 national prospect who signed with Georgia, started seven games in Athens as a freshman, but transferred to Auburn. He was an all-state player at Newnan, where he was an outstanding safety and wide receiver.

Donnie Miles, North Gwinnett – Miles, projected as a late-round pick or free-agent signee, started at North Carolina as a safety from mid-season of his redshirt freshman season until mid-way through his senior season, when he was lost to injury. Miles, mainly a running back in high school, was a three-star recruit but played only three games as a senior and didn’t rack up many high school honors. 

Dominick Sanders, Tucker – Sanders, projected as a late-round pick or free-agent signee, was a four-year starter at Georgia (starting 53 of 54 games, beginning with his true freshman season, which was precocious for a three-star recruit). He’s co-holder of Georgia’s career record for interceptions (16). Sanders was a Tucker’s third-leading rusher (592 yards) and leading receiver (273 yards) as a senior. He returned two punts for touchdowns and led DeKalb County in interceptions with eight. Though he got all-state recognition, Sanders was not considered the best player on Tucker’s 14-1 Class AAAAA runner-up team in 2013.

Chandon Sullivan, Winder-Barrow – Sullivan, projected as a late-round pick or free-agent signee, was a four-year starter and got at least honorable-mention all-Sun Belt recognition three times at Georgia State. Sullivan was a second-team all-region player as a high school senior, when he was part of a team that made the state playoffs for the first time in 11 years. Sullivan was a two-star recruit and not rated among the top 250 prospects in Georgia. Winder-Barrow’s last NFL player was Rico Mack in 1993. 

Tracy Walker, Brunswick – Walker, projected as a late-round pick, was a four-year starter at Louisiana and leading tackler as a senior. He was third-team All-Sun Belt as a senior. Walker was a first-team all-region player at Brunswick. Walker was a two-star recruit and not rated among the top 250 prospects in Georgia. Walker could join Darius Slam and Justin Coleman as Brunswick players currently in the NFL. 

Shaq Wiggins, Sandy Creek – Wiggins, a likely free-agent signee, started eight games as a freshman at Georgia, transferred to Louisville, where he also was a starter, and then moved to Tennessee as a graduate transfer for his senior season. His play with the Vols, in his own words, was ‘’terrible,’’ and he’s now hoping for a chance to get into a training camp. The NFL remains interested in the raw talent that made him a four-star recruit out of high school. Wiggins was a high school teammate of Mike Hilton of the Steelers. 

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