UGA Football

Analysis: Georgia sets program record for number of players taken in NFL draft first round

Georgia offensive guard Isaiah Wynn (77) and tailback Sony Michel (1) will be teammates in the NFL with the New England Patriots.
Georgia offensive guard Isaiah Wynn (77) and tailback Sony Michel (1) will be teammates in the NFL with the New England Patriots. Georgia Sports Communications

Georgia set a program record by landing three players in the first round of the NFL draft.

Never before had the Bulldogs done this. But after a season that ended with a national championship appearance, the Bulldogs saw Roquan Smith (eighth overall, Chicago Bears), Isaiah Wynn (23rd overall, New England Patriots) and Sony Michel (31st overall, New England Patriots) all drafted in the first round.

Thursday did mark the eighth time that the Bulldogs placed at least two in the first round. The last time this occurred was in 2013, when Jarvis Jones (17th overall, Pittsburgh Steelers) and Alec Ogletree (30th overall, St. Louis Rams) were taken early.

Georgia’s three players trailed only Alabama’s four – Minkah Fitzpatrick (Miami Dolphins), Da’Ron Payne (Washington Redskins), Rashaan Evans (Tennessee Titans), Calvin Ridley (Atlanta Falcons) – in the first round.

With the first day of the NFL draft over, here is a look at each of the first-rounder's situation now that they are officially in the NFL.

Roquan Smith – Eighth overall, Chicago Bears

Analysis: Arguably, the Bears just got the best player in the entire 2018 NFL draft. Smith was the best overall player on a Georgia team that played for the national championship in 2017. In Chicago, Smith is likely to step into a starting role on day one. Smith’s sideline-to-sideline speed makes him excellent against the run.

His ability to trail tight ends and slot receivers makes him great in coverage, too. The Bears went to the Georgia well two years ago when it took outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. Grabbing Smith for its 3-4 scheme should make Chicago look smart for years to come.

Isaiah Wynn – 23rd overall, New England Patriots

Analysis: This is such a quintessential Patriots draft pick. The Patriots need offensive linemen and Wynn fits the bill, especially as a versatile player who can play tackle, guard and center. To start his NFL career, Wynn will most certainly be looked at as a guard, considering his 6-foot-3 and 313-pound frame. Despite not being the tallest lineman, Wynn was an excellent left tackle for Georgia. Wynn has great athleticism and footwork, which allows him to compensate against some of the best pass rushers. Wynn did a great job against top competition throughout his career at Georgia and will likely do more of the same with the Patriots.

And like Smith, Wynn gets to work alongside a former Georgia teammate himself. The Patriots’ starting center happens to be David Andrews, who played for the Bulldogs from 2011-14. He and Wynn overlapped during the 2014 season, when Andrews was a senior and Wynn was a freshman.

Sony Michel – 31st overall, New England Patriots

Analysis: You have to wonder if the Philadelphia Eagles would have traded out of the first round if Michel was available at No. 32. Instead, the Patriots decided to take two Georgia players in the first round of this year’s draft by following Wynn’s selection with Michel. And New England is getting a well-rounded running back, which complements the pass-heavy style offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels uses.

Michel is easily the closest to a three-down back on the Patriots roster and could have an opportunity to start right away. Think about this: The Patriots could start a Georgia running back with two Georgia offensive linemen blocking for him in 2018.

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