Georgia Bulldogs’ defense breaks NFL draft record with 5 first-rounders
The nation’s best defense from the nation’s best team was rewarded for its work in the opening round of the NFL draft.
Five Georgia defensive players were selected in the first round Thursday night, a record from one defense in the common draft era. The total eclipsed the four Florida State defenders selected in the first round of the 2006 draft and the four Miami defenders selected in the first round of the 2004 draft.
The Bulldogs led the nation in scoring defense (10.2 points per game) this past season as they surrendered only 16 touchdowns all season. Georgia sacked Alabama quarterback Bryce Young four times in the national championship game on the way to the team’s first national title since 1980.
Defensive end/outside linebacker Travon Walker got it all rolling as he went No. 1 overall as the Jacksonville Jaguars opened the evening with the selection Boston Red Sox Jersey of the first Bulldogs player. Walker kept ascending the draft boards around the league with his play down the stretch as well as through the pre-draft workout season.
At 271 pounds he ran a 4.51 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine — a time faster than many wide receivers and most running backs who were timed in Indianapolis.
Defensive tackle Jordan Davis, to the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 13, was the next Bulldogs player to be selected. He, too, had a double-take-worthy combine performance with a 4.78 40-yard dash at 341 pounds.
Davis won the Outland Trophy this past season as the nation’s best interior lineman.
The two also represent, in many ways, the lure of potential in the NFL draft as Walker and Davis combined for eight sacks this past season and 12.5 tackles for loss. By comparison Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson, taken No. 2 overall by the Detroit Lions, had 16.5 tackles for loss and 14 sacks this past season on his own.
The third Bulldogs defender in the opening round was linebacker Quay Walker, who was selected at No. 22 by the Green Bay Packers. Walker was a one-year starter for the Bulldogs, but the 241-pounder ran a 4.52 40 at the combine.
Six picks later the Packers dove in again with Georgia defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt at the No. 28 pick. Wyatt, at 304 pounds, was yet another Bulldogs defender who wowed scouts with his athletic ability at the combine with a 4.77 40.
The Packers also became the first team to select two defensive players from the same school in the first round of a draft.
The Bulldogs also had another former player selected in the first round as Jermaine Johnson II, who was taken at No. 26 by the New York Jets, played in the Georgia defense until the 2021 season, when he played at Florida State.
In the 2006 draft Florida State’s Ernie Sims, Kamerion Wimbley, Brodrick Bunkley and Antonio Cromartie were selected in the first round. In the 2004 draft the Hurricanes’ Sean Taylor, Jonathan Vilma, D.J. Williams and Vince Wilfork were selected in the first round.