Smaller than usual NFL haul expected from Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia tight end Brock Bowers and offensive lineman Junior Amarius Mims prepare to block against Tennessee on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Knoxville. Curtis Compton for the Atlanta Journal Constitution

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

Georgia tight end Brock Bowers and offensive lineman Junior Amarius Mims prepare to block against Tennessee on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Knoxville. Curtis Compton for the Atlanta Journal Constitution

ATHENS — The Georgia Bulldogs are expected to have another banner year in the NFL draft. When it unfurls, though, that banner might not be as large as we have become accustomed.

The NFL draft gets underway Thursday night in Detroit. When it’s over, there is a chance that the number of Bulldogs drafted from the 2023 team might be single digits.


Then, again, who really knows? There are few things more unpredictable than when and if an athlete is selected in a professional draft. Just ask ESPN NFL draft expert Mel Kiper, who has made a good living for decades missing on way more selections than he gets right.

“I’ve been wrong as much as I’ve been right,” Kiper said in an interview on The Peter King Podcast. “Anytime you do this type of thing, you’re going to have your hits, you’re going to have your misses. Whatever opinion you have, just make sure you believe in it.”

Kiper believes in Georgia’s Brock Bowers. Perhaps the greatest tight end in college football history – and certainly UGA’s best ever – Bowers is among the fewer than usual “can’t-missers” for the Bulldogs this year. The three-time All-American is not expected to last past the first round. However, those early predictions of him being a surefire top-10 selection seem to have faded some as draft day draws closer.

Similarly, there are not many human beings on Earth built the way Georgia junior offensive tackle Amarius Mims is. His 6-foot-8, 340-pound frame alone makes him a candidate for a likely first-round call. Then again, he enters the draft with only eight career starts at Georgia because of competition and injuries. Could that cause the Cochran native to fall to the second round?

Beyond those two, it’s less obvious which Bulldog might go next. So, the real intrigue for Georgia fans may come in Friday’s second and third rounds. The fourth through seventh rounds wrap up Saturday afternoon.

According to the many mock drafts heading into this week, junior cornerback Kamari Lassiter and senior wideout Ladd McConkey likely are second- or third-round picks. There are similar predictions for defensive back Javon Bullard.

The ranges discussed for center Sedrick Van Pran-Granger are extremely wide, with many having him fall to the third- to fourth-round areas. Defensive back Tykee Smith seems similarly difficult to pin down. Later-round calls are expected for running back Kendall Milton and receiver Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint.

From beginning to end, though, expect to hear the University of Georgia mentioned a lot during ESPN’s three days of broadcasts. Since Kirby Smart has been the coach, the annual NFL draft has served as the school’s greatest promotion for playing for the Bulldogs. He’s had 44 players drafted – or an average of 7.5 a year – in the six drafts of which he played a part. That includes only one player taken in the 2017 draft, his first with the program.

Smart makes no apologies for selling Georgia to recruiting prospects as a place to be developed for the next level.

“It’s a great sell for the kids that’ll listen,” he said after UGA Pro Day last month. “There’s a lot of them that want to ask about NIL. They don’t want to ask about what your NFL players have done. I think it’s much more important how you develop players than how much NIL you make.”

Georgia has gone 42-2 on the field the past three years. Having NFL-level talent has been the main reason for that. Accordingly, the Bulldogs are on quite a run in the draft.

The Bulldogs set an NFL record for players drafted off a single team when 15 were selected in 2022. That followed the 2021 national championship season, the school’s first in 41 years. Georgia had 10 selections in last year’s draft, which represented the most ever by any college in a two-year span during the seven-round era.

This year, it appears that the Bulldogs may fall into a more of a normal range for the program. Georgia had nine players selected in 2021 and tends to average about seven or eight draftees a year after seasons in which it fielded a competitive team.

Heading into the 2024 cycle, the Bulldogs stand 10th all-time for the number of players drafted. Their 371 selections stand one behind the ninth-place Florida Gators, who they could pass this year. Notre Dame sits atop that list with 525, followed by Southern Cal (523), Ohio State (485), Oklahoma (414) and Alabama and Michigan with 401 apiece.

Georgia always has had a strong presence in the first round. Last year, Jalen Carter, Broderick Jones and Nolan Smith had their names called on the first day. In 2022, Georgia had a record five defensive players chosen in the first round, including No. 1 pick Travon Walker.

The Bulldogs are tied with three other teams for the most players to be picked No. 1 overall in the NFL draft, with five. In addition to Walker, quarterback Matthew Stafford (2009), running back Charley Trippi (1945), running back Frank Sinkwich (1943) and wide receiver Harry Babcock (1953) were first picks. Notre Dame, USC and Oklahoma also have produced five top picks.

In another day and time, Bowers probably would have been given strong consideration to go No. 1. But the tight end position simply doesn’t command that level of need in the NFL. Quarterbacks have been taken first in eight of the past 10 drafts, with defensive ends getting the call the other two years. Kyle Pitts has gone the earliest among tight ends, going No. 4 to the Falcons in 2021. T.J. Hockenson went eighth in 2019.

But tight ends are trending up. Six went in the first two rounds last year, and an average of 14.3 a year have been selected in the past 10 drafts, according to Pro Football Focus.

Kiper warns that NFL teams waited too long to select the best tight ends currently in the game. That includes Travis Kelce (third round), Mark Andrews (third) and George Kittle (fifth).

“Where would you re-draft those guys now? Probably a lot higher,” Kiper argued.

Accordingly, Kiper is very high on Bowers. He rates him No. 7 overall in the 2024 draft.

“He’s a do-it-all guy,” Kiper said. “He could be a fullback, an H-back, a receiver. Look at his hands, his ability to be dynamic after the catch. He outraces cornerbacks to paydirt.”


  1. TE Brock Bowers
  2. OT Amarius Mims
  3. CB Kamari Lassiter
  4. WR Ladd McConkey
  5. OL Sedrick Van Pran-Granger
  6. DB Javon Bullard
  7. DB Tykee Smith
  8. RB Kendall Milton
  9. WR Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint
  10. DL Zion Logue
  11. RB Daijun Edwards
  12. DE Tramel Walthour
  13. SN William Mote