Georgia’s Jones and Ogletree get first-round calls

Jarvis Jones could have gone to Radio City Music Hall to ring in his newly-minted NFL future underneath the bright lights of New York. But Georgia’s two-time All-American outside linebacker chose instead to return home to Columbus and learn his fate in the warm embrace of family and friends in a small, private gathering.

It’s a good thing since Jones had to wait a while to hear his name called. Once considered a potential top-5 pick, Jones wasn’t chosen until he went with the No. 17 selection to the Pittsburgh Steelers. And when he finally did get the call, Jones was nothing but grateful.

“I’m just so happy to be a part of this organization,” Jones said in a conference call I know they have a great defense, and they always have been known for their defense. That’s something they take pride in and are very passionate about. I’m just so happy to be a part of this organization.”

Jones became the first defensive player for Georgia to be drafted in the first round since 2005, when Thomas Davis (14) and David Pollack (17) were both selected in the opening session.

Thirteen selections later, Alec Ogletree joined Jones as a first-round selection. The junior inside linebacker from Newnan was chosen by the St. Louis Rams with the 30th pick.

“The night was long from being here at the beginning to getting that phone call,” said Ogletree, who received his call at 11:24 p.m. at the Atlanta home of his agent, Pat Dye Jr. “I was very excited when I got it.”

Jones and Ogletree became the 28th and 29th Bulldogs to be selected in the first round. It’s the second time since 2009 that two Georgia players were taken in the first round and seventh overall. The Bulldogs have never had three first-rounders selected in the same draft.

Despite tremendously productive careers at Georgia, both Jones and Ogletree had much to overcome to earn their first-day calls.

After declaring for the draft in January, Jones immediately drew scrutiny from NFL teams about the neck injury he suffered while at USC. He eventually gained medical clearance independently, then got an all-clear from doctors at the NFL combine in February. Jones’ stock was further impacted in March when he ran poor 40 times and did not test well at UGA’s Pro Day in Athens.

“At the end of the day, I don’t know (how that affected his draft position),” said Jones, who had 28 quarterback sacks in two seasons with the Bulldogs. “I think I just made a great fit with the Pittsburgh Steelers. I am loving it. The combine stuff is over with now. I’m in the zone right now, and I’m enjoying it. I’m just trying to stay on the positives and enjoy it and get to work.”

Ogletree was already having to answer questions about a four-game suspension for a drug-policy violation when he was arrested for DUI in February.

“I learned is life is too short to do something to waste it,” Ogletree said. “The stuff I did, I wish I didn’t but I’m happy. I’ve made some some changes in my life to stop things like that from happening.”

A lot of Bulldogs are expected to be selected as the draft continues Friday and Saturday. At least 13 players received pre-draft evaluations by NFL teams, and as many as 11 were projected as draft picks. The most Georgia players selected in a draft was eight in 2002.