On the first day of the 2023 NFL Draft, Georgia football and Pennsylvania became connected quickly.
There was a meme being passed around on social media that said Kirby Smart and other Georgia football recruiters should pitch to defensive players that “you will be drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles once you finish your playing days at Georgia”.
In 2022, the Eagles selected Georgia defensive standouts, Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean. That trend continued in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft last night. It’s obvious that the Eagles do value the players being developed down in Athens.
A trio of Dawgs were taken last night in Kansas City, and while it wasn’t the record number like last year’s first round, it was still a great accomplishment for the players and the program. It also made the 2021 defense look even better.
There have now been eight players selected in the first round from that year’s defense, giving yet another accolade to what some consider one of the best defenses in college football history.
The first Dawg taken on the night was defensive tackle, Jalen Carter. Philadelphia traded up to ninth overall to select the talented defender from Apopka, FL. Carter finished his Georgia career with 18.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. He was a nightmare for offensive lines, and ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. ranked him as the top overall prospect in this year’s draft.
However, Carter’s draft preparation was incredibly tumultuous. He was charged in connection to the tragic accident that killed offensive lineman Devin Willock and recruiting staff member Chandler Lecroy, although he did not serve any jail time. His Georgia Pro Day workouts also didn’t set the world on fire either.
Thanks to his agent, Carter was able to regain momentum in becoming a top-ten pick. The Eagles decided to give him a shot, and with him reuniting with a few of his Georgia teammates, expect Carter to make major strides both on and off the field.
Offensive lineman Broderick Jones was taken by the Pittsburgh Steelers 14th overall. Listed as 6 ft. 5 in. and weighing 311 lbs., Jones started at left tackle in all 15 games for Georgia in 2022. In 933 offensive snaps, Jones did not allow a single sack. In 2021, he allowed just two sacks.
Jones will be a great fit for the Steelers’ offense as they look to protect their young franchise quarterback Kenny Pickett. He will also be reuniting with wide receiver George Pickens, who had a strong rookie year for Pittsburgh.
The third and final first-round pick from Georgia was outside linebacker Nolan Smith, who was taken 30th overall by the Eagles. Smith was a team captain in 2022, and in eight games, he notched seven tackles for loss and three sacks.
Although his season was cut short due to an injury, he continued to coach up players on the sidelines. He even joked that he would be coming for Kirby Smart’s job one day.
Smith had an incredible showing at the NFL Combine, highlighted by his running a 4.39 40-yard dash. He also gave some passionate speeches about his late teammate Devin Willock and also spoke about players who transfer.
Smith’s talent on the field as a player and a leader will be valuable in Philly. Expect to see him do big things in the City of Brotherly Love.
Georgia still has nine players who could potentially be drafted over the weekend, including tight end Darnell Washington, offensive tackle Warren McClendon, safety Christopher Smith, running back Kenny McIntosh, and quarterback Stetson Bennett.
Rounds 2 and 3 of the 2023 NFL Draft will begin at 7 pm on Friday, April 28, with the final rounds beginning on Saturday, April 29 at noon.