A few things first: Georgia's class was made up of players from the 2009, 2010 and 2011 recruiting classes. Actually the Dawgs signed one player (Zach Mettenberger) who left and went to another school to play, so to some degree they really signed and had drafted three players in this draft, but that's a little hard to give them credit for considering the Oconee County product never played a snap in silver britches.
What was the landscape in Athens from 2009-11? Don't remember it? I do – it wasn't great. The 2010 recruiting class has turned out to be arguably the worst class signed by Mark Richt and company. I didn't know for sure it would be the worst class Richt would ever sign that day, but I knew it wasn't great. From Dawg Post the Magazine that year:
"In recruiting retention problems occur. Every player you sign is not going to be productive – it happens. But in recruiting, like the rest of life, you need to have a wide margin of error. That didn't happen in 2005. I am worried that didn't happen in 2010 – particularly on the offensive side of the ball. Georgia's margin of error with this class, just like the 2005 and 2007 classes, is small – they need production from the top of the lineup. Injuries always affect recruiting classes – other forms of attrition do, too. One of the 19 players signed to this class will be gone soon; one may never make it."
You get the point. 2010 didn't get the job done. The defensive staff was being overhauled – Willie Martinez was out; Todd Grantham was in with a new defense. Several players already had injuries or grade issues – Lonnie Outlaw, Dexter Morant, Brandon Burrows, Brent Benedict and Jalen Fields.
And the class was just plain too small – frankly it was doomed for failure as it relates to the NFL Draft. Alec Ogletree was a first round pick… he's the only guy who was certainly going to be drafted, and remains the only one in that class drafted to this point. Also, too, I don't know where Jarvis Jones shows up in terms of class. I have a hard time figuring out transfers, but Georgia certainly gets credit for him. He's either 2010 or 2011, but he's there.
A few remain from the 2010 class, but Michael Bennett seems to me the most likely of that small remaining group to be drafted, but Kolton Houston and Hutson Mason could be late-round selections next year – "could".
Now, you can have classes like the 2010 class not effect you that much if the classes around it are not that bad (and 2009 and 2011 did just that, too, for Georgia over the last few years).
The 2009 class, on the other hand, was a much more productive in terms of their NFL draft. Orson Charles, Arthur Lynch, Aaron Murray, Shawn Williams and Zach Mettenberger (LSU) were all drafted. Three players, Abry Jones, Marlon Brown and Kwame Geathers all made teams as undrafted free agents – Brown had a standout 2013 season for the Ravens.
The 2011 class is too early to judge. Players, like former Georgia back Isaiah Crowell, who signed in 2011, but declared this year, left a year of college ball on the table in order to turn pro early. That's becoming a fad as analysts said far too many juniors left school early for a shot at the 2014 NFL Draft.
Still, John Jenkins was signed in that class and has already made his way onto an NFL roster.
So what did Georgia "miss" in this draft cycle – a few players, but most are very explainable. Still, it is stunning that none of the 17 players signed the in the 2014 draft from Georgia played for the Bulldogs; not as stunning as the fact that the University of Texas didn't have a single player drafted – not one. An amazing failure on the part of Mack Brown and his Horns.
The NFL Draft 2014 class from the Peach state was diverse, but mainly came away from the metro Atlanta area. Only six of the 17 players, North Gwinnett's Ju'Wuan James, Peachtree Ridge's Bradley Roby, Spraberry's Jerick McKinnon, Centennial's David Yankey, Loganville's Storm Johnson and Riverdale's Lavelle Westbrooks, grew up in Atlanta.
The other 11 came from around the rest of the state. Four players came from counties that bordered other states or the ocean. The other seven came from the Atlanta TV market, but not Atlanta. For the most part those 11 were scattered around the state.
Of the 17 players most were either three-star rated players or below – in other words not overwhelmingly desirable college prospects. The typical response to that sort of data is that those players were "coached up" at their respective schools. That's certainly possible. It is also very well possible that the higher-level prospects who didn't get drafted (Crowell, Da'Rick Rogers and the like) had character flaws or injury issues in the state in that time frame.
Higher-rated players are still more likely to be drafted than medium- and low-level prospects – that has not changed. There are, as always, a few reasons why more non-elite players make it to the NFL… mainly that there are more of them than 4-star and 5-star prospects coming out of high school. That's actually the biggest reason there are more (number, not percentage) 3-star and below prospects is that there are more of them… its that simple.
The book is completely closed on every recruiting class through the 2009 class, but 2010 and 2011 (as we have discussed) are still moving through the system. With that said the updated numbers are as follows.
Two-star prospects from the state of Georgia have a 4.2% chance of getting drafted into the NFL
Three-star prospects from the state of Georgia have a 5.4% chance of getting drafted into the NFL
Four-star prospects from the state of Georgia have a 15.0% chance of getting drafted into the NFL
Five-star prospects from the state of Georgia have a 35.7% chance of getting drafted into the NFL
In other words – if you want to get to the NFL the higher you are ranked as a high school prospect the higher the odds are that you will have your name called at the NFL Draft. Players can get "coached up" all they want to, but it usually helps to start as a really great football player first.
How about by the high school? Maybe you should go to a particular high school in order to get drafted into the NFL – that can help, too. Obviously the more kids in the school the more available to be drafted… with that said.
The schools with the most players drafted in the NFL draft since 2000 (none of them are "small" schools, but some are much larger than others.
Stephenson – 6
Westlake – 6
Dunwoody – 5
Tucker – 5
Douglass – 4
High school power Buford has signed 29 players to BCS-level scholarships including 5-star Omar Hunter (Florida), and a slew of four-star players, but none of them have been drafted into the NFL Draft yet (although Kolton Houston, Vadal Alexander and Dillon Lee have not yet gone through the draft process). Two players were drafted from Buford (P.K. Sam and Tim Wansley) before Scout started rating players from the Peach State.
The highest percentage of players to sign with a college and then play in the NFL? Would you believe Augusta's Richmond County? I wouldn't have. But the data tells us that more than half, 7 of 13, of the players who sign from that county play in the NFL. Obviously that number seems to suggest that great players get out of Augusta, and that no one else does. The same could be said for Macon's Bibb County, which has sent 15 players to BCS schools with six being drafted.
The most overall BCS and NFL players? DeKalb County - and that's no surprise. DeKalb has both Tucker (23 BCS; 5 NFL) and Stephenson (40 BCS; 6 NFL) in its borders. Those two schools alone have produced more BCS players and NFL players than the City of Atlanta's schools combined (55 BCS; 7 NFL).
Georgia appears to have a significant pull of the best players in the state. Of the 28 5-star players from the Peach State in Scout.com's history, 61% of them have gone to Athens. No other program in the country has signed more than two 5-star players from Georgia in that same time.
With all of that rambling done – again, what is the explanation for the state having 17 players drafted this year, but none of them playing in Silver Britches. The answer is simple – they didn't sign any of them.
Some they lost in recruiting battles – some they, rightly, didn't recruit at all.
4-star North Gwinnett OL Ju'Wuan James – Dawgs lost out to Tennessee; never really seemed to have his attention… he committed to the Vols and held steady the entire way.
3-star Peachtree Ridge DB Bradley Roby – Committed to Vanderbilt; De-committed; committed to Ohio State. Dawgs offered with only three weeks left in recruiting cycle. Took an official to Georgia late; stuck with the Buckeyes.
5-star Monroe DL Stephon Tuitt – Committed to Georgia Tech; De-committed; committed to Notre Dame; Georgia offered, but was never really in the running. Left after junior season at Notre Dame. First Georgian from class of 2011 drafted.
Not-rated Sprayberry QB Jerick McKinnon – Signed with Georgia Southern; Didn't have a major offer.
3-star Lowndes LB Telvin Smith – Georgia tried to save themselves late, but the transition to the new defensive staff in the winter of 2010 made no difference. Smith announced to Florida State on the Monday of the week of Signing Day after major flirting with the Dawgs late.
4-star Oconee County QB Zach Mettenberger – Signed with Georgia out of high school, but was dismissed from the program after an arrest in the spring of 2010; started two years for LSU; tore his ACL at the end of the 2013 season.
4-star Gainesville WR T.J. Jones – Signed with Notre Dame; Georgia never got traction with him. John Jancek led that recruitment, but it was a struggle nearly the entire way for the Dawgs.
3-star Loganville RB Storm Johnson – Signed with Miami out of high school; then transferred to UCF. Also transferred from Buford to Loganville in high school; Dawgs were focusing on the recruitment of Isaiah Crowell – pretty much ignored other running backs.
Not-rated Riverdale DB Lavelle Westbrooks – Signed with Georgia Southern; Did not have a major offer.
That Lavelle Westbrooks and Ulrick John were drafted in the seventh round does not mean that Georgia should have recruited them out of high school. Those players developed over time. The ones that stick out are the ones that Georgia had their shot at and missed for whatever reason.
Frankly, they tried too late with Yankey and Roby – either could have gone to Athens with earlier effort… that certainly seemed to be the case with Roby. Telvin Smith was a nail biter, but Georgia has never beaten out Florida State on a late recruit. Storm Johnson was understandable. TJ Jones' father played won a national title at Notre Dame – that was going to be a difficult fight to win. Stephon Tuitt wasn't going to Georgia… even though the Dawgs tried very, very hard. They just lost that one like they lost James. That both lived significantly close to Athens than Knoxville or South Bend speaks to my repeated point that state borders are irrelevant in recruiting.
Darqueze Dennard was a guy every major program south of Michigan State missed out on – including Georgia. That happens. On occasion, guys slip through the cracks in Georgia, but increasingly that's rare. Playing at Michigan State is hardly slipping through the cracks – but no one offering him was a total miss across the board by the SEC schools.
Another way of answering the question is pretty simple – Georgia just had 15 players drafted in the last two drafts. Everyone that should have been drafted off of those two teams was drafted, and Georgia, for the most part on defense, started over. The skill over the last few years left after the 2012 season that ended a few yards short of the SEC title.
Also, and this seems to be where people are missing the boat in their faux anger over in-state recruiting, if you are an out-of-state player who plays for Georgia you are more likely to get to the NFL than an in-state Georgia player in terms of percentage. In other words the out-of-staters are better players, and that's by design.
Mark Richt has been pretty consistent that his program will recruit Georgia as hard as possible and take an in-state kid over an out-of-state kid if the prospects are the same. But that's rare. Most of the time players are not the same – that's why there are recruiting boards.
Here are the raw numbers – since Mark Richt took over at Georgia 75 players have been selected in the NFL Draft; 52 (69%) are from Georgia and 23 (31%) are from somewhere else. But that's giving Richt credit for some of Jim Donnan's recruiting – after all, Richt inherited a program that had 15 players who were selected in the first two years he was coach.
Since Richt took over the recruiting with his staff (the 2001 signing class and beyond; meaning about the 2005 or 2006 draft) he has signed 56 players who have gone on to play in the NFL – 36 (64%) of them were from Georgia and 20 (36%) were from somewhere else.
So Richt has shifted from in-state recruiting slightly to out-of-state recruiting. One thesis is that Richt and the Dawgs are more successful, and therefore have the ability to recruit further away from home than when Donnan and company were running the show (a lot of that, too, is that TV has pushed the SEC to well beyond its borders).
Still, the reality is that certain positions, for whatever reason, have not been great in Georgia – quarterback and receiver. More often than not the Bulldogs have had to leave Georgia to get a top quarterback (Stafford and Murray), a top receiver (Green and Massaqoui and even Marlon Brown) or a top running back (Moreno and Gurley).
Georgia's superstars, too, over the last few years have been just as likely to be from another state (Stafford, Murray, Moreno and Gurley) as from Georgia (Jarvis Jones, Malcolm Mitchell and Alec Ogletree).
There can't be much confusion – in-state players give Georgia a heck of a base, but the out-of-state players make the program win or lose. The fact is that the draft class that was just selected is a sort of hiccup in terms of Georgia's in-state recruiting.
Even for the coming season early NFL Draft prognosticators have Georgia's two first rounders calling their home somewhere other than Georgia – Ramik Wilson from Florida and Todd Gurley from eastern North Carolina.
Why people get upset about this or love hurt by the address of the player playing for their team is beyond me… you rob the bank because the money is at the bank. No one knocks off a thrift shop.
Players like David Andrews, Amarlo Herrera, Mitchell, Damien Swann, Ray Drew and others (Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd) are going to be drafted or are going to be seriously looked at in terms of being drafted. Those names, too, should ring a bell – Dream Team.
The 2014 NFL Draft was just a weak one for Georgia – a generational cycle that will happen in the future if the conditions are correct: a coaching staff change years before with a team heavily loaded with veteran players makes the next year's draft shallow. And that's what happened here – a shallow pool to work with.
The good news is that Georgia hasn't had a class as shallow (in terms of numbers) like the 2010 class in some time. Frankly, that class was too small. The 2011 class will have its players drafted, and as we close the book on the 2009 class we can look back and see that it had a major, and positive effect on the program.
One can't ignore that nine players from that class were either drafted or made an NFL team – and that number could still get higher if some seniors who just left make teams even though they were not drafted.
In short, the high-level talent left after the 2012 season – as everyone was well aware.
Also, the point isn't that the amount of players from Georgia who were drafted that didn't go to Georgia. The point is the amount of Georgia Bulldogs taken… and that was very, very low, and historically indicative of a team that went 8-5.