Trivia and list: Sweat is 81st Georgian taken in NFL first round
As expected, Stephenson High graduate Montez Sweat was taken in the first round in the NFL Draft on Thursday. The former Mississippi State defense end went 26th overall to the Washington Redskins.
With that, at least one former Georgia high school player has been taken in the first round each season this decade. The last time that no Georgia player went in the first round was 2009.
It wasn’t always that way for the state, though.
The first former Georgia high school player taken in any NFL Draft was Larry Morris of Decatur in 1955. That was in the 20th NFL Draft.
Morris, who starred at Georgia Tech and later the Chicago Bears, was the only first-round pick from Georgia in the 1950s. There were only two in the 1960s – Ken Rice in 1961 and Bill Stanfill in 1969. There were seven in the ‘70s.
Move ahead to the current decade, and Sweat is the 27th Georgian to go in the first round since 2010 — one-third of the 81 ever taken from the state (list below). Only California, Florida and Texas are believed to have more first-round picks in that time.
Who was the best first-round pick from Georgia?
Cam Newton of Westlake was the 2015 NFL MVP. Jamal Lewis of Douglass was a 2,000-yard rusher in 2003. There have been many multiple All-Pro picks such as Bill Stanfill of Cairo and Eric Berry of Creekside.
But there are only two certain Hall of Famers – Champ Bailey and Calvin Johnson. Bailey, a product of Charlton County High and the University of Georgia, will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year. Johnson, who starred at Sandy Creek High and Georgia Tech, will be eligible in 2021.
Here are five more facts you might not know about Georgians in the first round, plus a list of all 81:
*Morris, the first-ever Georgian taken in the first round, won state titles at Decatur (1949, 1950), a national title at Georgia Tech (1952) and an NFL title with the Chicago Bears (1963) and was the MVP of the 1963 NFL championship game. As a first-rounder, Morris went eight rounds quicker than Johnny Unitas in 1955.
*Ken Rice, the second Georgia player taken in the first round, was drafted in the first round twice. The St. Louis Cardinals picked him No. 8 overall in the 1961 NFL Draft, but he signed with the Buffalo Bills, who took him third overall in the 1961 AFL Draft. A Bainbridge native, Rice was an All-America lineman and played seven seasons in the AFL. The most famous Georgia draftee in 1961 was Athens High’s Fran Tarkenton, a University of Georgia quarterback taken in the third round by the Minnesota Vikings (NFL) and fifth round by the Boston Patriots (AFL).
*George Rogers in 1981 became the first former Georgia high school player to be taken No. 1 overall in the draft. Rogers, who starred at Duluth when that school was Class B and Gwinnett County was much smaller in population, had won the Heisman Trophy with South Carolina. Playing for the New Orleans Saints, Rogers rushed for an NFL-leading 1,674 yards as a rookie.
*The second, and most recent, No. 1 overall pick from Georgia was Cam Newton in 2011. Like Rogers, Newton had won a Heisman Trophy. Newton played at Westlake High in south Fulton County and then at Auburn. Newton was the 2015 NFL MVP with the Carolina Panthers. Newton is one of two quarterbacks from Georgia to go in the first. The other is Deshaun Watson of Gainesville, taken 12th overall by the Houston Texans in 2017.
*The 2005 NFL Draft saw five former Georgia high school players taken in the first round. That’s the most ever. They were Ronnie Brown from Cartersville, Adam “Pacman” Jones from Westlake, Carlos Rogers of Butler in Augusta, Thomas Davis of Randolph-Clay and David Pollack of Shiloh in Gwinnett County. Jones and Davis were still in the league last season.
#26 DE Montez Sweat, Stephenson (Mississippi State) NFL: Redskins
#5 DE Bradley Chubb, Hillgrove (N.C. State) NFL: Broncos
#8 LB Roquan Smith, Macon County (Georgia) NFL: Bears
#12 QB Deshaun Watson, Gainesville (Clemson) NFL: Texans
#21 LB Jarrad Davis, Camden County (Florida) NFL: Lions
#23 TE Evan Engram, Hillgrove (Mississippi) NFL: Giants
#9 LB Leonard Floyd, Dodge County (Georgia) NFL: Bears
#12 DT Sheldon Rankins, Eastside (Louisville) NFL: Saints
#29 DT Robert Nkemdiche, Grayson (Ole Miss) NFL: Cardinals
#8 DE Vic Beasley, Adairsville (Clemson) NFL: Falcons
#19 OL Cameron Erving, Colquitt County (Florida State) NFL: Browns
#22 DE Bud Dupree, Wilkinson County (Kentucky) NFL: Steelers
#26 WR Breshad Perriman, Arabia Mountain (Central Florida) NFL: Ravens
#19 OT Ju’Wuan James, North Gwinnett (Tennessee) NFL: Dolphins
#24 CB Darqueze Dennard, Twiggs County (Michigan State) NFL: Bengals
#26 DE Marcus Smith, Hardaway (Louisville) NFL: Eagles
#31 CB Bradley Roby, Peachtree Ridge (Ohio State) NFL: Broncos
#10 G Chance Warmack, Westlake (Alabama) NFL: Titans
#17 LB Jarvis Jones, Carver (Columbus) (Georgia) NFL: Steelers
#30 LB Alec Ogletree, Newnan (Georgia) NFL: Rams
#15 DE Bruce Irvin, Stephenson (West Virginia) NFL: Seahawks
#1 QB Cam Newton, Westlake (Auburn) NFL: Panthers
#25 OT James Carpenter, Hephzibah (Alabama) NFL: Seahawks
#31 DE Cameron Heyward, Peachtree Ridge (Ohio State) NFL: Steelers
#5 FS Eric Berry, Creekside (Tennessee) NFL: Chiefs
#20 CB Kareem Jackson, Westside-Macon (Alabama) NFL: Texans
#22 WR Demaryius Thomas, West Laurens (Georgia Tech) NFL: Broncos
#11 CB Leodis McKelvin, Ware County (Troy) NFL: Bills
#2 WR Calvin Johnson, Sandy Creek (Georgia Tech) NFL: Lions
#2 RB Ronnie Brown, Cartersville (Auburn) NFL: Dolphins
#6 CB Adam Jones, Westlake (West Virginia) NFL: Titans
#9 CB Carlos Rogers, Butler (Auburn) NFL: Redskins
#14 LB Thomas Davis, Randolph-Clay (Georgia) NFL: Panthers
#17 LB David Pollack, Shiloh (Georgia) NFL: Bengals
#10 CB Dunta Robinson, Clarke Central (South Carolina) NFL: Texans
#25 CB Ahmad Carroll, Douglass (Arkansas) NFL: Packers
#6 DT Johnathan Sullivan, Griffin (Georgia) NFL: Saints
#18 DE Calvin Pace, Lithia Springs (Wake Forest) NFL: Cardinals
#20 OT George Foster, Southwest-Macon (Georgia) NFL: Broncos
#25 DE Charles Grant, Miller County (Georgia) NFL: Saints
#13 DT Marcus Stroud, Brooks County (Georgia) NFL: Jaguars
#18 OT Jeff Backus, Norcross (Michigan) NFL: Lions
#5 RB Jamal Lewis, Douglass (Tennessee) NFL: Ravens
#7 CB Champ Bailey, Charlton County (Georgia) NFL: Redskins
#18 OT Matt Stinchcomb, Parkview (Georgia) NFL: Raiders
#12 LB Keith Brooking, East Coweta (Georgia Tech) NFL: Falcons
#13 LB Takeo Spikes, Washington County (Auburn) NFL: Bengals
#18 RB Robert Edwards, Washington County (Georgia) NFL: Patriots
#13 CB Walt Harris, LaGrange (Mississippi State) NFL: Bears
#22 CB Tyrone Poole, LaGrange (Fort Valley State) NFL: Panthers
#25 T Billy Milner, Northside-Atlanta (Houston) NFL: Dolphins
#3 RB Garrison Hearst, Lincoln County (Georgia) NFL: Cardinals
#6 DE Eric Curry, Thomasville (Alabama) NFL: Buccaneers
#20 DB Dale Carter, Newton (Tennessee) NFL: Chiefs
#8 OG Antone Davis, Peach County (Tennessee) NFL: Eagles
#15 DT Huey Richardson, Lakeside-Atlanta (Florida) NFL: Steelers
#20 DT Kelvin Pritchett, Therrell (Mississippi) NFL: Cowboys
#21 TE Eric Green, Beach (Liberty) NFL: Steelers
#22 CB Ben Smith, Warner Robins (Georgia) NFL: Eagles
#25 RB Dexter Carter, Appling County (Florida State) NFL: ers
#7 WR Sterling Sharpe, Glennville (South Carolina) NFL: Packers
#22 OL Harris Barton, Dunwoody (North Carolina) NFL: ers
#24 LB Alvin Toles, Mary Persons (Tennessee) NFL: Saints
#19 DE Freddie Gilbert, Griffin (Georgia) NFL: Broncos
#18 WR Willie Gault, Griffin (Tennessee) NFL: Bears
#19 DB Joey Browner, Southwest-Atlanta (Southern Cal) NFL: Vikings
#3 LB Chip Banks, Laney (Southern Cal) NFL: Browns
#6 DB Jeff Bryant, Gordon (Clemson) NFL: Seahawks
#13 WR Lindsay Scott, Wayne County (Georgia) NFL: Saints
#1 RB George Rogers, Duluth (South Carolina) NFL: Saints
#24 RB James Brooks, Warner Robins (Auburn) NFL: Chargers
#15 RB Eddie Lee Ivery, Thomson (Georgia Tech) NFL: Packers
#26 G Kent Hill, Americus (Georgia Tech) NFL: Rams
#27 C Robert Shaw, Wheeler (Tennessee) NFL: Cowboys
#24 DT J.T. Thomas, Lanier-Macon (Florida State) NFL: Steelers
#8 OL Royce Smith, Groves (Georgia) NFL: Saints
#14 DB Clarence Scott, Trinity-Decatur (Kansas State) NFL: Browns
#12 DT John Small, Richmond Academy (Citadel) NFL: Falcons
#11 DL Bill Stanfill, Cairo (Georgia) NFL: Dolphins
#8 T Ken Rice, Bainbridge (Auburn) NFL: Cardinals
#7 C Larry Morris, Decatur (Georgia Tech) NFL: Rams
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