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UGA Continues to Make History in 2022

By Dave Holcomb
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Dave Holcomb writes about Georgia's record-setting draft success.

The Georgia Bulldogs just landed a top four recruiting class based on the 247Sports composite rankings for the sixth straight year. No other college football program has successfully recruited a top four class every year since 2017.

There’s no indication Georgia’s run on top of the college football recruiting rankings is going to end anytime soon. At least not with the program is setting records in the NFL Draft.

In the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft on Thursday night, five Georgia defenders heard their names called. No defense has ever had that many draft picks in the first round before – not even a Nick Saban led defense.

Georgia has now had at least one defender go in the first round of the NFL draft in four of the last five years. Since 2018, 16 Georgia defenders have been selected in the NFL draft, including the five from Thursday.

More could still come over the next two days.

Clearly, Georgia is the best place for top college defensive prospects hoping to one day play in the NFL.

The first round of the 2022 NFL Draft fittingly began and ended with a Georgia defender. First, the Jacksonville Jaguars picked edge rusher Travon Walker and then the Minnesota Vikings finished the round with safety Lewis Cine.

While Georgia had five selections, no other school had more than two on Thursday.

Walker spent a lot of the offseason projected as a mid-first-round selection, but he steadily climbed the draft board the last couple months, rising all the way to No. 1.

Not every analyst loved the selection of Walker at No. 1. Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN was actually very critical of the Georgia edge rusher going first ahead of Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson.

“He has intriguing physical traits, of course, but where were his one-on-one pass-rush wins? I just didn't see him dominant in any game,” Kiper wrote following the end of the first round. “He is the first player selected No. 1 overall in the common draft era who never made an all-conference or All-American team in college.”

Kiper is referring to Walker’s lack of stat production while at Georgia. He had just 9.5 sacks with 65 total tackles, including 13 tackles for loss in three college seasons.

That’s not a lot of production, but the Jaguars clearly love his ceiling. He was the first Georgia player since Matthew Stafford in 2009 to go first overall. Walker was also the first Bulldogs defender to go first overall.

The Bulldogs are now hoping Walker lives up to his huge expectations and becomes an NFL star. That will only help Georgia’s recruiting even more.

Joining Walker as first-round picks from the 2021 Georgia defensive line was Jordan Davis at No. 13 to the Philadelphia Eagles and Devonte Wyatt at No. 28 overall to the Green Bay Packers. Clemson in 2019 is the only other program to have three defensive linemen go in the first round of the NFL draft.

Walker wasn’t even the only “Walker” from Georgia to be selected. Linebacker Quay Walker went No. 22 to the Packers as well.

The Georgia defense was so dominant last season, it had at least one player from all levels of its defense go in the first round. Furthermore, arguably the biggest playmaker from the unit, linebacker Nakobe Dean, remains available going into round two on Friday.

The Bulldogs won their first national championship in January since 1980 behind a defense that allowed almost five fewer points than any other defense last season. The 10.2 points per game Georgia allowed in 2021 was the lowest in college football since Alabama in 2011.

So it’s only fitting that the Bulldogs have continued to make history this month, and at this point, it's a vicious cycle.

As Georgia breaks more records, the recruits will only continue to roll through Athens in the hopes that they will help the Bulldogs win titles and gain more NFL draft picks.