Georgia sets NFL draft record: 'All the individual accolades are coming to fruition'

The picks just kept coming and coming for the Georgia Bulldogs.

Fifteen times over.

The 2022 National Football League draft began Thursday night in Las Vegas with Georgia defensive end Travon Walker going first overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Bulldogs becoming the first college program ever to have five defensive players selected in the first round. Another standard was set Friday night, when linebackers Nakobe Dean and Channing Tindall enabled Georgia to become the first school to have seven defenders go within the first three rounds.

Georgia also had two offensive players selected Friday with receiver George Pickens and running back James Cook, and six more Bulldogs were chosen Saturday, providing a three-day compilation of 15 that set a record for a seven-round draft and served as a remarkable follow-up to winning the 2021 season's national championship.

"It means a lot," tight end John FitzPatrick said of Georgia's history-making haul after being selected Saturday in the sixth round by the Atlanta Falcons. "Finally getting over that hump and winning the national championship - no one was really worried about individual accolades. We all bought into one common goal, and now all the individual accolades are coming to fruition."

Georgia broke the previous seven-round high of 14 set by Ohio State in 2004 and matched by LSU in 2020, with the Tigers producing their crop several weeks after their 2019 national title run. Texas had a record 17 selections during the 1984 draft, which consisted of 12 rounds.

LSU had 10 selections in this year's draft to rank second behind Georgia among Southeastern Conference schools, with Alabama producing seven, Ole Miss six and Tennessee five. The Volunteers had cornerback Alontae Taylor (New Orleans) and receiver Velus Jones Jr. (Chicago) get picked Friday, with defensive tackle Matthew Butler (Las Vegas), offensive lineman Cade Mays (Carolina) and safety Theo Jackson (Tennessee) going Saturday.

Jackson is from Nashville and played at Overton High School, and he was choked up when discussing his destination on a conference call.

"I'm going through so many emotions right now," Jackson said. "It's the best feeling. To grow up in Nashville, go to school at Tennessee and come back home for pro ball - I can't even think of the words to say right now."

Butler posted a "KnoxVegas to Las Vegas!!" reaction on Twitter.

Running back Zamir White, who tore his left ACL during the 2017 North Carolina high school playoffs and tore his right ACL during the 2018 preseason camp, continued Georgia's parade Saturday when Las Vegas took him with the 122nd overall pick. White never had a 1,000-yard rushing season in Athens but led the Bulldogs during the 2020 and 2021 seasons and compiled 382 career rushes for 2,043 yards (5.3 per carry) and 25 touchdowns.

Just 11 picks after White went off the board, Tampa Bay selected Georgia punter Jake Camarda, who averaged 46.8, 46.6 and 46.7 yards his last three seasons and was the SEC special teams player of the year in 2020.

"It's a dream come true, and I'll cherish this forever," Camarda said on a conference call with Tampa media. "Having played at Georgia for four years and having played in every single biggest game that you could possibly imagine, I definitely think that's going to carry over in being with the Bucs."

The Bulldogs had 11 total picks after the selections of White and Camarda and added four more in the sixth round, with the Falcons taking FitzPatrick and offensive lineman Justin Shaffer, the Los Angeles Chargers snagging offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer and the Los Angeles Rams taking cornerback Derion Kendrick.

Not faring as well among SEC programs in this draft were the Florida Gators, whose three picks were their fewest since 2012, and the Auburn Tigers, whose lone pick of Titans second-round cornerback Roger McCreary was their fewest since 2013. Vanderbilt was the lone SEC school not to have a player taken.

The SEC had 65 total selections for a second consecutive year and led all conferences for a 16th straight year.

Odds and ends

Alabama has produced 61 first- or second-round selections since the 2010 draft, with Ohio State a distant second in that category with 35. ... Among the Crimson Tide players agreeing to free-agent contracts Saturday night were offensive lineman Chris Owens (Pittsburgh), defensive lineman LaBryan Ray (New England), linebacker Chris Allen (Denver) and cornerback Josh Jobe (Philadelphia). ... Former Auburn players signing free-agent contracts were linebacker Zakoby McClain (Baltimore) and safety Smoke Monday (New Orleans). ... Taylor, who was chosen by the Saints 49th overall, became Tennessee's highest-drafted defensive back since safety Eric Berry went fifth overall to Kansas City in 2010.

Contact David Paschall at or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.