After having just one player picked during the first three rounds of the NFL draft, the Georgia Bulldogs provided a plethora of late-round selections.
Tight end Orson Charles or cornerback Brandon Boykin was expected to be the first Georgia player taken Saturday, but it was center Ben Jones instead, going to the Houston Texans with the fourth pick of the fourth round and 99th overall. The Bulldogs had six day-three selections for seven overall picks, which tied Oklahoma for the second-most behind Alabama's eight draftees.
In a conference call with Texans reporters, Jones expressed his excitement and admitted he watched the draft at his aunt's house in Centreville, Ala., because he doesn't get cell service at his home.
"They've got a high-powered offense, and I can't wait to get in that system and contribute in any way I can," Jones said. "The systems are very similar. We ran a lot of inside and outside zone at Georgia."
ESPN analyst Mel Kiper praised the pick of Jones, saying, "He's a worker, and he's a veteran. I like watching him play."
Charles and Boykin weren't far behind the Jones selection, with Charles going 116th to Cincinnati and Boykin 123rd to Philadelphia. The Bulldogs had not produced three picks in the same round since running back Patrick Pass, linebacker Orantes Grant and defensive back Jeff Harris went in the seventh round in 2000.
By selecting Charles, the Bengals now have taken seven Bulldogs since 2004 and four in the past three years. Cincinnati drafted defensive tackle Geno Atkins in 2010 and took receiver A.J. Green and offensive lineman Clint Boling last year.
"We have a great relationship there with the coaching staff, obviously," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "I can call Coach [Mark] Richt at any point. I think he's very honest and frank with us about things."
Charles was the lone Georgia player who elected in January to forgo his senior season for the draft, but he was arrested not long after returning from the NFL combine on a DUI charge in Athens. In a call with Bengals reporters, Charles discussed his arrest.
"It was one of the worst things that has happened in my life," Charles said. "It was hard to explain to my little brother what I did and to tell my mother how sorry I was. My mother and grandma had to leave work -- I just put my family in a bind.
"I'll never put bad substances in my body, because now I know how much it can hurt my family, church and friends."
Boykin expressed disappointment that he wasn't drafted sooner but figured his fractured fibula at the Senior Bowl had a role in his slide. The Bulldogs didn't have any fifth-round picks, but kicker Blair Walsh went to Minnesota in the sixth, offensive tackle Justin Anderson went to Indianapolis in the seventh and defensive tackle DeAngelo Tyson went to Baltimore in the seventh.
Georgia punter Drew Butler was not drafted and plans to sign with Pittsburgh as a free agent.
The Bulldogs appeared to be headed for a deadlock with Alabama, but Crimson Tide tight end Brad Smelley went to Cleveland with the 247th selection, the seventh-to-last pick. Alabama had two fifth-round draftees, with defensive lineman Josh Chapman going to Indianapolis and cornerback DeQuan Menzie to Kansas City.
For the sixth consecutive year, the SEC led all leagues, this time with 42 selections. Each SEC team had at least one player picked.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...