Highest NFL draft picks from Georgia

Written by:
February 8, 2022
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Highest NFL draft picks from Georgia

Since the first draft was held in 1936, the National Football League (NFL) has used its annual culling of the top college talent in the country to grow its ranks, renew the popularity of the sport, and to increase competitive parity among all football teams. Though the draft process has undergone several iterations since that first draft took place, it remains true to its original design as an equalizer. In its current arrangement, the draft consists of seven rounds, whereby each of the 32 NFL teams receives one pick per round. The order of selection takes place in reverse order of how each team finished the previous season—in other words, barring any trades between teams, each round starts with the team that had the worst overall record and ends with the Super Bowl champions.

There is a long and storied history of teams coming out of the dustbin of failure to resurrect themselves through strategic drafting of top college players. In 1989, for example, the Dallas Cowboys finished 1-15, the worst record in their franchise history. But after drafting Emmitt Smith, who would go on to become the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, first-round No. 1 pick Russell Maryland, and No. 1 pick and future Hall of Famer Troy Aikman, “America’s team” transformed itself into a powerhouse that won three Super Bowls throughout the 1990s.

And while for every top draft pick that went on to gridiron glory—such as 7-time All-Pro quarterback Peyton Manning—there are equally storied accounts of star players who almost didn't make it out of the draft at all, let alone make a team’s top pick, the NFL’s annual strategic raffle has retained, for teams and colleges alike, its power to change the face of the game with a single draft pick. To this, one need look no further than the 2017 draft, when nine teams passed over Patrick Mahomes, who has gone on to take the once-flailing Kansas City Chiefs to three Super Bowl appearances.

With the 2022 draft slated to be held April 28-30 in Las Vegas, Stacker compiled a list of the highest NFL draft picks born in Georgia since 1970 using data from Pro Football Reference. Ties were broken by the most recent year drafted.

#20. Royce Smith (G)
- Born: Savannah, Georgia
- Draft pick: Round 1, #8 overall in 1972
- Drafted by: New Orleans Saints
- University: Georgia
- Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#19. Ron Holmes (DE)
- Born: Fort Benning, Georgia
- Draft pick: Round 1, #8 overall in 1985
- Drafted by: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- University: Washington
- Years as a starter in NFL: 6 (0 Pro Bowls)

#18. Vic Beasley (OLB)
- Born: Adairsville, Georgia
- Draft pick: Round 1, #8 overall in 2015
- Drafted by: Atlanta Falcons
- University: Clemson
- Years as a starter in NFL: 5 (1 Pro Bowls)

#17. Roquan Smith (ILB)
- Born: Montezuma, Georgia
- Draft pick: Round 1, #8 overall in 2018
- Drafted by: Chicago Bears
- University: Georgia
- Years as a starter in NFL: 4 (0 Pro Bowls)

#16. Derrick Brown (DT)
- Born: Sugar Hill, Georgia
- Draft pick: Round 1, #7 overall in 2020
- Drafted by: Carolina Panthers
- University: Auburn
- Years as a starter in NFL: 2 (0 Pro Bowls)

#15. Jeff Bryant (DE)
- Born: Atlanta, Georgia
- Draft pick: Round 1, #6 overall in 1982
- Drafted by: Seattle Seahawks
- University: Clemson
- Years as a starter in NFL: 12 (0 Pro Bowls)

#14. Eric Curry (DE)
- Born: Thomasville, Georgia
- Draft pick: Round 1, #6 overall in 1993
- Drafted by: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- University: Alabama
- Years as a starter in NFL: 3 (0 Pro Bowls)

#13. Johnathan Sullivan (DT)
- Born: Griffin, Georgia
- Draft pick: Round 1, #6 overall in 2003
- Drafted by: New Orleans Saints
- University: Georgia
- Years as a starter in NFL: 1 (0 Pro Bowls)

#12. Adam Jones (DB)
- Born: Atlanta, Georgia
- Draft pick: Round 1, #6 overall in 2005
- Drafted by: Tennessee Titans
- University: West Virginia
- Years as a starter in NFL: 6 (1 Pro Bowls)

#11. Terry Miller (RB)
- Born: Columbus, Georgia
- Draft pick: Round 1, #5 overall in 1978
- Drafted by: Buffalo Bills
- University: Oklahoma St.
- Years as a starter in NFL: 2 (0 Pro Bowls)

#10. Jamal Lewis (RB)
- Born: Atlanta, Georgia
- Draft pick: Round 1, #5 overall in 2000
- Drafted by: Baltimore Ravens
- University: Tennessee
- Years as a starter in NFL: 9 (1 Pro Bowls)

#9. Eric Berry (DB)
- Born: Fairburn, Georgia
- Draft pick: Round 1, #5 overall in 2010
- Drafted by: Kansas City Chiefs
- University: Tennessee
- Years as a starter in NFL: 5 (5 Pro Bowls)

#8. Bradley Chubb (DE)
- Born: Marietta, Georgia
- Draft pick: Round 1, #5 overall in 2018
- Drafted by: Denver Broncos
- University: North Carolina St.
- Years as a starter in NFL: 2 (1 Pro Bowls)

#7. John Hannah (G)
- Born: Canton, Georgia
- Draft pick: Round 1, #4 overall in 1973
- Drafted by: New England Patriots
- University: Alabama
- Years as a starter in NFL: 13 (9 Pro Bowls)

#6. Andrew Thomas (T)
- Born: Lithonia, Georgia
- Draft pick: Round 1, #4 overall in 2020
- Drafted by: NY Giants
- University: Georgia
- Years as a starter in NFL: 2 (0 Pro Bowls)

#5. Garrison Hearst (RB)
- Born: Lincolnton, Georgia
- Draft pick: Round 1, #3 overall in 1993
- Drafted by: Phoenix Cardinals
- University: Georgia
- Years as a starter in NFL: 7 (2 Pro Bowls)

#4. Ronnie Brown (RB)
- Born: Rome, Georgia
- Draft pick: Round 1, #2 overall in 2005
- Drafted by: Miami Dolphins
- University: Auburn
- Years as a starter in NFL: 6 (1 Pro Bowls)

#3. Calvin Johnson (WR)
- Born: Tyrone, Georgia
- Draft pick: Round 1, #2 overall in 2007
- Drafted by: Detroit Lions
- University: Georgia Tech
- Years as a starter in NFL: 9 (6 Pro Bowls)

#2. George Rogers (RB)
- Born: Duluth, Georgia
- Draft pick: Round 1, #1 overall in 1981
- Drafted by: New Orleans Saints
- University: South Carolina
- Years as a starter in NFL: 6 (2 Pro Bowls)

#1. Cam Newton (QB)
- Born: College Park, Georgia
- Draft pick: Round 1, #1 overall in 2011
- Drafted by: Carolina Panthers
- University: Auburn
- Years as a starter in NFL: 9 (3 Pro Bowls)

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