Georgia football: three Dawgs who deserved a shot at NFL stardom

Terrence Edwards (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Terrence Edwards (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Georgia football has produced many NFL stars, but a few players were drafted but never got a true shot to shine in the NFL.

Being an NFL superstar is harder than I think any of us truly realize. It’s one thing to just make it to the pros, another thing to make a starting lineup. But to be a full-time starter, is to also be among the elite to ever play the sport. Georgia football knows a thing or two about producing such stars with the likes of Charley Trippi, Fran Tarkenton, Terrell Davis, Hines Ward and Todd Gurley.

But with only so few spots for full-time starters, many deserving players never received an opportunity to shine in the pros. This is also something Georgia football knows well. I can think of several Bulldogs who were great enough in Athens to deserve more of a chance to shine in the NFL. Here are the first three Bulldogs to come to mind.

David Greene – QB

David Greene didn’t have a great running game behind him. He didn’t throw to elite wide receivers as an upperclassmen. Yet, Greene ended his career with 11,528 yards, never passing for under 2,500 yards in any season. He tossed 72 touchdowns and only 32 interceptions. All while doing so with a sense of poise and calmness that should have impressed NFL coaches.

Instead, Greene dropped to the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft where the Seattle Seahawks drafted him 85th overall. He spent four seasons in the league and never appeared in a game. Surprising for a guy who many compared to Peyton Manning while he was in college.

Terrence Edwards – WR

After a while, Greene left the pros and returned home. Terrence Edwards went the opposite direction, to Canada, became a superstar in the CFL and still never received a second chance at NFL stardom.

Edwards is still the only receiver with a 1,000-yard season, a 3,000-yard career in school history. He dominated defenses in the SEC for four seasons, scoring 30 touchdowns along the way. Only based on collegiate production, it’s hard to argue against Edwards being the best Bulldog receiver of all time.

But for some reason, Edwards wasn’t drafted, joined the Falcons as a free agent, and then only caught one pass in 2003. The Falcons released him before the 2004 season. No NFL team showed much interest in Edwards after that and he signed with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. But just like Atlanta and the entire NFL before them, Toronto released Edwards.

The Montreal Alouettes gave Edwards his first legitimate shot at being a pro-football receiver and he had moderate success there. In 2005, he caught six passes for 44 yards. In 2006, he broke out with 33 catches for 393 yards with his first professional touchdown. But Montreal still wasn’t the place where Edwards would live up to his collegiate success. In 2007, he joined the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and became one of the best receivers in club history.

He caught 80 passes in his first year in Winnipeg for 1,280 yards and nine touchdowns. He had 1,010 yards in 2008, dipped down 816 yards in 2009. But Edwards bounced back with an amazing 1,372-yard season in 2010, complete with 12 touchdowns. He eclipsed 1,000 yards twice more before retiring after the 2013 season. His CFL career ended with 508 catches, 7,637 yards and 47 touchdowns. In 2017, Winnipeg inducted Edwards into their Hall of Fame.

It’s one thing to not be given the chance he deserved coming out of Georgia in 2003, and another to be released after just a year in Atlanta. But to become a star in Canada and still not receive a second chance in the NFL is mind-blowing.

Aaron Murray – QB

Right now, Aaron Murray is where Terrence Edwards was in 2005. Except, Murray’s second shot at pro-football stardom begins home in Atlanta instead of in Canada. A week after the upcoming Super Bowl, Murray and the Atlanta Legends will make their debut along with the rest of the Alliance of American Football. Murray, like others in the AAF will make one more attempt at forging a pro football career, and possibly an NFL career.

But Murray, probably shouldn’t be in the AAF. The tough-as-nails, gun slinger with a rocket arm should at least be a backup in the NFL. Height shouldn’t matter that much. Like Greene, Murray did join teams with good quarterbacks (yes, Alex Smith is a good quarterback). But unlike Greene, Murray did get his shots in preseason action.

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Josh Johnson and Jeff Driskel started NFL games this season. The quarterback situations at other teams, especially Jacksonville are a mess. And yet, Aaron Murray is the guy heading to play in another league. Really, is being 6’1 that big of a deal?