7 Georgia Bulldogs taken in drama-filled draft

November 23, 2019 Athens - Georgia place kicker Rodrigo Blankenship (98) celebrates with Georgia tight end Charlie Woerner (89) after he scored a field goal during the first half of an NCAA college football game at Sanford Stadium on Saturday, November 23, 2019. Georgia won 19-13 over the Texas A&M. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

November 23, 2019 Athens - Georgia place kicker Rodrigo Blankenship (98) celebrates with Georgia tight end Charlie Woerner (89) after he scored a field goal during the first half of an NCAA college football game at Sanford Stadium on Saturday, November 23, 2019. Georgia won 19-13 over the Texas A&M. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

It certainly wasn’t the NFL draft most anticipated for Georgia – especially for Jake Fromm and Rodrigo Blankenship – but it was an exciting and entertaining one, nonetheless.

When it finally ended late Saturday evening seven Bulldogs received calls from NFL teams during the seven-round draft. The first selected was junior tackle Andrew Thomas with the fourth pick of the first round to the New York Giants. The last was senior linebacker Tae Crowder, who was literally the last pick of the entire draft. As such, he receives the label of "Mr. Irrelevant" for the 2020 draft, a joking reference to the final prospect to go off the board.

That gave the Bulldogs seven draft picks in 2020 draft. That is the second-most in school history (Georgia had eight in 2002 and 2013) and ties for the most under coach Kirby Smart, who saw that many UGa players get calls last year and 21 in his four seasons.

LSU set a draft record with 14 players selected this year.

It was thought going in that Georgia might have as many as players drafted. But the surprising omissions of safety J.R. Reed and kicker Rodrigo Blankenship didn’t help the total. They each had landed free-agent deals less than an hour after the draft had concluded, Reed with the Jaguars and Blankenship with the Colts.

Fromm, by lasting until the 167th pick, found himself as one of the focal points of ESPN’s third-day draft coverage. The 6-2, 220-pound junior from Warner Robins was projected as a second- or third-round prospect. Instead, he lasted until late in the fifth round, when the Buffalo Bills finally called his number. Fromm was the eighth quarterback drafted.

“I thought my phone was broken,” Fromm quipped in a Zoom call with reporters Saturday. “Man, I’m just super thankful to get that ophone call. It was an amazing one, just surreal. I’m just really thankful for my family. They’ve been hanging with me for a lot of hours here recently. Just thankful to finally get it.”

Fromm, who has played every meaningful snap taken for the Bulldogs the last three years, will find his path to the field much more difficult in Buffalo. The Bills’ starter is Josh Allen, drafted with the seventh overall pick just two years ago.

The wait for Fromm the call was excruciating for the Georgia coach as well/

“I’m just so happy for him,” Smart said on a digital video call with ESPN. “I was thinking to myself, if I go on Zoom at 3, surely Jake will be drafted then. He wasn’t, and I’ve been sitting here holding my breath. Now he’s going to cold, cold Buffalo.”

In Buffalo, Fromm will be able to join former teammate Isaiah McKenzie, a kick-return specialist and receiver for the Bills.

Perhaps as surprising as Crowder’s call was Woerner getting drafted by the San Francisco 49ers. The 6-5, 244-pound tight end from Tiger had only 34 catches in four seasons with the Bulldogs.

The local scribes asked Woerner about that lack of productivity.

"I kind of see myself as a do-it-all guy,” said Woerner, who also played a lot of special teams for the Bulldogs. “I’m a guy who can do anything and really just going to do what the team asks me to do. That's what I did at Georgia and I'll do whatever it takes to win a ball game. I'm excited to go to the 49ers and win some ball games.”

Kindley was the only other Georgia player drafted on Saturday. He went with the fourth pick of the day, 111th overall, to the Miami Dolphins. The 6-3, 337-pound guard hails from Jacksonville and his father is from Miami, where much family still resides.

Kindley was excited about getting to block for former foe Tua Tagovailoa, who the Dolphins drafted out of Alabama with the fifth pick.

“I’m going to do whatever I can to protect him,” Kindley said. “He’s a great quarterback. I’m ready to work with him.”

Reed and Blankenship getting passed over was a bit of a shock. Both projected as early third-day draftees.

Blankenship, who walked on at Georgia and had to win the place-kicking job through competition, expressed his sentiments on Twitter.

Thomas was the only first-rounder selected and running back D'Andre Swift (second round, Lions) and tackle Isaiah Wilson (first round, Titans) got their calls on Friday.

At least eight other Georgia players are hopeful of landing free-agent deals. They’ll tell you that a long wait for a call is better than no call at all.

“I’m going to go in humble and hungry and serve in any way I can,” Fromm said. “I hate it a little more for my family than for me. The wait was tough, a little longer than expected. But, hey, I’m excited and blessed. There’s only so many people who get the opportunity to get that phone call.”

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