The NFL draft has begun to feel like the Georgia football team’s graduation ceremony with how many Bulldogs strut across the stage to meet Roger Goodell. Nearly every Sunday is a reunion of Kirby Smart’s best players because Georgia won’t stop producing NFL superstars year after year.
In 2023, 10 Georgia players were drafted into the NFL, with three going in the first round. The year before, Smart saw five former players get selected in the first round, including Travon Walker, the first overall pick. In total 15 players were selected in 2022, and since Smart took over, 55 Georgia Bulldogs have been selected in the NFL draft.
Many players from the Smart era haven’t had long enough careers to crack this list of the 10 greatest Georgia NFL players and join these Bulldog legends. No player from the Smart era has made the list, so in 10 years, this ranking will be even tougher and the list might be 40 players long.
Still, Georgia has produced enough NFL greats to make this list difficult to put together and even harder to crack. It starts with a player, who didn’t play for Kirby or Vince Dooley, but was a Mark Richt product.
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford celebrates with the Lombardi Trophy Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Teams: Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Rams
Accomplishments: 1x Super Bowl Champ, 1x Pro Bowl, 2011 Comeback Player of the Year
Matthew Stafford unfortunately got stuck in Detroit as the first overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft. He stayed there for 12 seasons and was only able to manage a winning record four times, with just three playoff appearances and no wins.
Then, as is a theme with Georgia greats in the NFL, Sean McVay saved his career. Stafford was traded to the Los Angeles Rams and led LA to a 12-5 record in his first season. In the playoffs, Stafford ran through the Cardinals, Tom Brady’s Buccaneers, and the 49ers, and finally beat Joe Burrow’s Bengals in Super Bowl LVI. He is 4-3 all-time in the playoffs.
The 2021 run likely cemented Stafford as a Hall of Fame quarterback. He is No. 11 on the NFL’s all-time passing yardage list and will soon eclipse Eli Manning to climb into the top 10.