The 2017 NFL Draft has come and gone, but one thing really stands out. Twenty-nine players that played high school ball in the state of Georgia had their names called from Thursday through Saturday. That is the best of any of state in the U.S.
Honestly, everyone somehow connected to high school football in the state of Georgia knows that there is a ridiculous amount of talent year in and year out. However, with the success of the NFL Draft among other things, the nation is starting to wake up to that fact.
In my opinion, Georgia produces the best football talent (overall) of any state behind California and Texas and is starting to creep up on the state of Florida. This is an impressive statistic and, honestly, is a huge help to the University of Georgia. Kirby Smart and this current UGA coaching staff have been very good on the recruiting trail so far ( although they are struggling in the next recruiting class so far, but it can all be changed by having a big year on the field this fall.)
However, the previous coaching staff struggled to keep the top talent in state year in and year out. That is clearly shown in that, of the 29 guys drafted from the state of Georgia, none went to the University of Georgia (although a couple of guys attended there previously but either transferred or were dismissed and went to another school.) In addition, only one player was drafted from UGA in Isaiah McKenzie, and he hails from the state of Florida. (For perspective, D-II West Georgia had two players drafted.)
Guys that were drafted from the state of Georgia include Deshaun Watson (Clemson), Jarrad Davis (Florida), Evan Engram (Ole Miss), Raekwon McMillan (Ohio State), Montravius Adams (Auburn), Carl Lawson (Auburn), Cam Sutton (Tennessee), Josh Dobbs (Tennessee) and Wayne Gallman (Clemson) among others.
These are all guys that the Bulldogs (obviously) let slip away, and that is just not acceptable. Sure, there are going to be talented players that do leave the state, but the majority of the top prospects need to stay home and represent UGA if the Bulldogs want to be successful.
This draft is not the only case of top talents that have left the state of Georgia in recent years. Just look at guys like Robert Nkemdiche (Ole Miss), Von Bell (Ohio State), Kenyan Drake (Alabama), Vic Beasley (Clemson) and others.
In the class of 2017, Georgia showed remarkable improvement in keeping guys in state as they signed ten of the top 15 players in Georgia. That needs to become a trend if the Bulldogs seek to be near the top of college football once again.
The 2017 NFL Draft helped showcase why the former coaching staff is no longer at UGA. There was only one player drafted from the school. That is unacceptable regardless of the circumstances.
Smart and company are seeking to change that year in and year out. Only time will tell.