Four more Georgia players go during NFL Draft’s Second, Third rounds
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Four more Georgia players go during NFL Draft’s Second, Third rounds

Ladd McConkey
Photo: UGAAA

DETROIT – Another four Bulldogs were selected during the second and third rounds of the NFL Draft Friday, including three defensive backs.

With the final four rounds to go on Saturday, the Bulldogs have already had at least six picks in every draft since 2018. Georgia’s three second round picks are the most for the program after having four other instances with two picks in the round.

Junior wide receiver Ladd McConkey was selected by the L.A. Chargers as the 34th overall pick (second pick of the second round), marking the top Georgia receiver taken since A.J. Green in 2011 (fourth overall pick, Cincinnati Bengals). Next up was junior defensive back Kamari Lassiter, who went 42nd overall to the Houston Texans as the first Georgia defender to be selected, marking the Texans’ first Bulldog selected since 2012. Lassiter’s backfield teammate, junior Javon Bullard, went to the Green Bay Packers with the 58th pick later in the second round.

Senior defensive back Tykee Smith was next off the board for the Bulldogs as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Smith 89th overall in the third round.

On Thursday, junior tight end Brock Bowers was selected 13th overall by the Las Vegas Raiders five picks before junior offensive tackle Amarius Mims went to the Cincinnati Bengals to extend the program’s streak to seven consecutive years with a first-round pick.

McConkey, a native of Chatsworth, Ga., finished his career with 119 catches for 1,687 yards (14.2 avg.) and 14 receiving touchdowns while starting 21 of 39 games played. He added 13 carries for 216 yards (16.6 avg.) and four scores, including a 27-yard touchdown run in his final game during Georgia’s 63-3 rout of No. 5 Florida State in the 2023 Capital One Orange Bowl. Thanks in part to McConkey’s contributions, the Bulldogs ranked fifth in 2023 in both Scoring Offense (40.1 points/game) and Total Offense (496.5 yards/game).

McConkey was also a threat on special teams with 21 punt returns for 279 yards (13.3 avg). The 2023 Wuerffel Trophy winner and 2022 All-SEC Second Team selection was an Allstate American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Team member and honored as a National Football Foundation (NFF) National Scholar-Athlete last season after earning his degree in Finance.

This marks the ninth Bulldog picked by the Chargers since 1960. Georgia has had three players selected by the Chargers since 2021, including offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer in 2022. McConkey is the first Bulldog receiver to be selected in the second round since George Pickens in 2022 (Pittsburgh Steelers, 52nd).

Lassiter, a native of Savannah, Ga., started 29 of his 43 career games and finished with 86 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, a sack and an interception in three seasons. The All-SEC Second Team selection led the team with eight pass breakups in 2023. Lassiter was a pivotal part of the backend of a defense that ranked fifth nationally in Scoring Defense (15.6 points/game).

The Texans last Bulldog selection was Ben Jones in 2012 (99th pick in the fourth round). Lassiter marked the 10th Georgia defensive back taken since the first NFL Draft in the Kirby Smart era in 2017, including having at least one selected in the last four drafts in a row.

Bullard, a native of Milledgeville, Ga., was a 2023 All-SEC Second Team selection after compiling 114 tackles, 3.5 sacks, eight tackles for loss, four interceptions and a fumble recovery during his three years as a Bulldog. Starting 22 of 40 career games, he was named the Defensive MVP of both the College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship Game and CFP Semifinal during Georgia’s run to its second straight national title in 2022. Bullard helped the Bulldogs rank ninth in both Total Defense (289.1 yards/game) and Passing Yards Allowed (175.4) last season.

Bullard is the 20th Georgia player selected by the Packers since the 1938 selection of Pete Tinsley. Bullard is the seventh consecutive UGA defender that Green Bay has picked. Multiple Bulldog defensive backs have now been selected in four straight drafts.

Smith, a native of Philadelphia, led the Bulldogs with 70 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and four interceptions in his final season, which marked his third with the Bulldogs. Smith piled up 215 tackles, including 21.5 tackles for loss and five sacks, eight interceptions and two forced fumbles during two years at West Virginia (2019-20) and three with the Bulldogs (2021-23). The 2019 Freshman All-American and 2020 First Team All-American overcame injuries to help lead Georgia’s defense during their recent historic run. He finished his Georgia career with 16 starts.

The Buccaneers have now drafted eight Bulldogs dating back to 1976. Before selecting punter Jake Camarda in 2022, Tampa Bay last took another UGA defensive back in Jermaine Phillips in 2002.

The NFL Draft continues with the final four rounds of the Draft beginning Saturday at noon.

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