Twenty-nine former Georgia high school players were chosen in the 2017 NFL Draft this past weekend, one short of the record for Georgia players and nearly twice as many as the down year of 2016.
Former Gainesville and Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson went first among Georgians. He was drafted 12th overall to the Houston Texans.
Watson, who led Gainesville to its only state championship in 2012, is the second quarterback from Georgia ever taken in the first round. The other is Cam Newton of Westlake, who went No. 1 overall to the Panthers in 2011. Both won national titles in college, Watson at Clemson and Newton at Auburn.
Two other former Georgia players – linebacker Jarrad Davis of Camden County and tight end Evan Engram of Hillgrove – went in the first round.
Georgia has produced at least three first-round picks each season since 2010 except for 2012, when only one (Bruce Irvin) was taken.
The most former Georgia players taken in the NFL Draft is 30. That happened in 2015. The numbers dropped to 15 in 2016 but rebounded sharply.
The numbers of Georgia players going in the NFL Draft in recent years have rapidly increased. There were only 114 Georgia players taken in the entire decade of the 1990s, probably fewer in undocumented decades prior. There have been 125 picked in just the last six years.
It is not yet known how Georgia's 29 ranks among states, but in 2015, Georgia's 30 was second to Florida's 39 and ahead of Texas and California, which had 27 apiece.
Here are more facts and figures from the 2017 NFL Draft as it pertains to former Georgia high school players.
*Former Alpharetta QB Joshua Dobbs joined Watson as former Georgia high school quarterbacks in the draft. It has happened two other times in the past 30 years that two Georgia quarterbacks were drafted in the same year. Those were Newton and T.J. Yates of Pope in 2011 and Charlie Whitehurst of Chattahoochee and D.J. Shockley of North Clayton in 2006.
*Nine players became the first-ever NFL Draft picks from their high schools. They are Dobbs (Alpharetta), Antonio Garcia (Drew), Isaac Rochell (Eagle’s Landing Christian), Dalvin Tomlinson (Henry County), Raekwon McMillan (Liberty County), DeAngelo Yancey (Mays), Carl Lawson (Milton), Jalen Myrick (Savannah Christian) and Grover Stewart (Mitchell County). Milton and Mays have had NFL players, such as current Tampa Bay running back Peyton Barber of Milton, but none has been drafted.
*Eight of the 29 draftees are former AJC Super 11 picks. They are Watson of Gainesville and McMillan of Liberty County (2013), Lawson of Milton and Montravius Adams of Dooly County (2012) and Ukeme Eligwe of Stone Mountain, Josh Harvey-Clemons of Lowndes, Josh Holsey of Creekside and Tomlinson of Henry County (2011).
*Five of the 29 Georgia draftees this year were picked out of Georgia colleges. They are DT Grover Stiewart from Albany State, LB Ukeme Eligwe of Georgia Southern, WR Robert Davis of Georgia State, DL Alexander Armah of West Georgia and PK Harrison Butker of Georgia Tech.
*Armah and Corey Levin are both Dacula graduates. They are the first from Dacula to go in the draft since brothers Kenny and David Irons in 2007.
*The only other Georgia school with two draft picks this season was Gainesville, the alma mater of QB Deshaun Watson and Jeremiah Ledbetter. Watson and Ledbetter were teammates on Gainesville’s 2011 Class AAA semifinal team. Ledbetter is two years older than Watson and didn’t play on the 2012 state-championship team.
*Chris Carson, taken in the seventh round by the Seahawks, is the first former Parkview player to be drafted since brothers Jon Stinchcomb (2003) and Matt Stinchcomb (1999).
*For the past 30 years, 143 of 439 Georgia players that went in the draft finished their college careers in Georgia. That’s 32.6 percent. In 2017, only 17.2 percent of Georgia players drafted finished in state. That’s a dip, but not a fluke. It’s a trend. In this decade, only 26.9 percent of Georgia players drafted (43 of 160) finished at a Georgia college. From 2000 to 2009, the rate was 42.2 percent (57 of 135). Also note there the increase in the number of Georgia players drafted this decade – 160 from 135 – and there are two years left in the current decade.
*The University of Georgia did not have a Georgia player drafted. That also happened in 2014. Georgia had as many as seven home-grown draftees in 2013. Two former Georgia high school players who were drafted – Brendan Langley of Kell and Josh Harvey-Clemons of Lowndes – began at UGA but finished elsewhere.
*Harrison Butker of Westminster and Georgia Tech is the first place-kicker from Georgia to go in the draft since Brandon Coutu of Collins Hill and Georgia in 2008. They are among eight in the past 30 years. Others include John Kasay of Clarke Central (1991) and Jason Elam of Brookwood (1993).
*The Falcons didn’t draft any former Georgia high school players for the second year in a row. In 2015, they drafted two – Vic Beasley of Adairsville and Grady Jarrett of Rockdale County.