ATHENS – The Philadelphia Bulldogs. The Georgia Eagles. UGA Northeast. “PhilaDAWGia.”

Insert whatever cheeky nickname you’d like for the Philadelphia Eagles, but they are making no apologies for leaning hard on Georgia football talent in the last two pro football drafts. A year after taking defensive tackle Jordan Davis and linebacker Nakobe Dean in the first and third rounds, respectively, of the 2022 NFL draft, the Eagles took three more Bulldogs in the 2023 draft this past weekend.

They selected defensive tackle Jalen Carter (9th) and outside linebacker Nolan Smith (30th) in the first round last Thursday, then snatched up cornerback Kelee Ringo (105th) early in the fourth round on Saturday.

Just to provide an exclamation point on the whole UGA-shaded weekend, the Eagles executed a trade that landed former Georgia star running back – and Philadelphia native – D’Andre Swift.

Here’s the kicker: Philadelphia general manager Howie Roseman is a Florida graduate. That led to some playful ribbing between Roseman and Smith captured on live video when Smith was selected at the end of Thursday’s first round.

“I’m a Florida Gator,” Roseman told Smith during the initial call to inform Smith that the Eagles had tabbed him. “Do you know how much this hurts my soul to take all these (expletive) Georgia Bulldogs?”

Smith’s quick-witted reply said it all.

“You want to win, though,” Smith said.

“I do want to win, my man, you’re right,” Roseman said, laughing. “I do want to win, more than you know. I like that confetti.”

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie approved.

“Good response to Howie about the Gators there,” Lurie said during his turn on the phone with Smith. “We’re excited about you and you get to go with a lot of your guys that you played defense with and won a lot of games with. Let’s go.”

Whether it has anything to do with the Georgia vibe remains a matter of debate, but there’s no denying Philadelphia has been getting it done on the field. The Eagles came oh-so-close to winning it all last year, going 14-3 and reaching the Super Bowl before falling to Kansas City 38-35.

So far, the actual impact that Davis and Dean have made has been negligible. Neither starts, not yet anyway. The 6-foot-6, 330-pound Davis served in a specialized role as a designated run-stuffer, playing in 13 games and registering 18 tackles, including one for a loss. Dean primarily played special teams this past season. He had 13 tackles in 17 games.

But their roles are expected to increase eventually. And with the additions of Carter, Smith and Ringo, the Eagles now have acquired nearly half of Georgia’s 2021 defense. That strategy seems sound considering that Georgia defense led the nation in scoring (allowing only 10.2 points per game) and virtual every pertinent category and has been described as “generational” as the Bulldogs won their first of back-to-back national titles.

Roseman acknowledged that championship pedigree is a part of the Eagles’ player-evaluation process. Also, he said, is player recommendations.

“We have an atmosphere around here where a bunch of our guys are trying to recruit us to draft players from their colleges,” Roseman said on a conference call with reporters. “So, guys from Georgia want Georgia guys, guys from Alabama want Alabama guys and we clearly don’t have enough Florida guys (laughs). … We didn’t do it any less for Nolan Smith with Jordan and Nakobe. We didn’t do that any less with guys who played at different schools on different guys.

“We’re always asking our guys, ‘Hey what do you think about this guy? You played with him. Would he be a good fit here?’ We also understand, you know, I’m not going to say bad things about my friends if you asked me, ‘Should I hire one of your friends?’ We understand that.”

The Eagles are the first team in the common draft era (since 1967) to select five defensive players from the same school over a two-year span, according to Four of the five Bulldogs were consensus 5-star prospects in high school, with the 3-star Davis being the lone exception.

Accordingly, the six UGA players is the highest representation of any one school on the Eagles’ roster. Currently, Philadelphia features four players from Oklahoma and three from Alabama. However, fans from those two schools are free to debate to whom quarterback Jalen Hurts belongs. For what it’s worth, Hurts’ college is listed as Oklahoma on the Eagles’ website.

The Philly-Georgia love is reciprocal, by the way. Increasingly under coach Kirby Smart, the Bulldogs have mined the greater Philadelphia area for recruiting talent. Swift, in fact, could be credited for getting it started.

Swift was a 5-star prospect and the No. 1 player in Pennsylvania when he committed to UGA amid much fanfare in 2017. Joining Swift in that class was another 4-star prospect from Philly named Mark Webb. Webb, who happens to be Swift’s cousin, came to Georgia as a wide receiver but ended up playing defensive back for the Bulldogs.

Georgia has had a Philly presence on its roster ever since. Tykee Smith is a senior defensive back out of Imhotep Institute, a perennial Philly football powerhouse, and is expected to start for the Bulldogs this fall. Georgia also signed 4-star wide receiver Yazeed Haynes out of Philadelphia’s North Penn High in the Class of 2023.

As for the NFL, the reality is, UGA is placing Bulldogs all over the place. Georgia had 10 players drafted in 2023. That follows an NFL record of 15 that were selected from the school last year, and the Bulldogs have had an NFL best of 34 over the last three years. They’ve averaged 9.7 players per draft over the last six years.

There is a particularly strong representation of defensive players. In fact, with the completion of the 2023 draft on Saturday, Georgia’s entire starting defense from the 2021 is now in the NFL - plus two talented backups (Carter and linebacker Channing Tindall).

The last three picked were outside linebacker Robert Beal, safety Chris Smith and cornerback Kelee Ringo. Ringo, of course, went to the Eagles.

“We definitely have bonds that will continue to grow,” Ringo said of joining his former UGA teammates. “They would be there even if we were on different teams. But to be in the same building as those guys and to hear from the guys that have been there, me, Jalen and Nolan walk in there with open arms from the entire community and the staff. It’s definitely a great situation to be coming into as a rookie.”


Every starter -- *plus two others -- is now in the NFL

  • DE Travon Walker -- Jaguars (1st round, 2022)
  • NG Jordan Davis -- Eagles (1st, 2022)
  • DT Devonte Wyatt -- Packers (1st, 2022)
  • OLB Robert Beal -- 49ers (5th, 2023)
  • OLB Nolan Smith -- Eagles (1st, 2023)
  • ILB Quay Walker -- Packers (1st, 2022)
  • ILB Nakobe Dean -- Eagles (3rd, 2022)
  • CB Derion Kendrick -- Rams (6th, 2022)
  • CB Kelee Ringo -- Eagles (4th, 2023)
  • S Lewis Cine -- Vikings (1st, 2022)
  • S Chris Smith -- Raiders (5th, 2023)

* LB Channing Tindall and DT Jalen Carter were backups for Georgia in 2021