ATHENS — Isaiah McKenzie was a surprise entrant into the 2017 NFL Draft. As it turns out, if he hadn’t entered, Georgia wouldn’t have had anybody picked at all.
The Denver Broncos selected McKenzie, Georgia’s leading receiver last year, in the fifth round on Saturday.
McKenzie being the Bulldogs’ only draft pick meant that Georgia had its fewest number of players selected in the draft since 1992, when none were picked. But two former Georgia players were picked this year: Lamar cornerback Brendan Langley in the third round and Louisville safety Josh Harvey-Clemons in the seventh round.
Five other Georgia juniors who probably would have been drafted also elected to return for their final years: Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Lorenzo Carter, Davin Bellamy and Dominick Sanders. And a sixth, defensive back Aaron Davis, also returned for his senior year and might have been picked.
McKenzie declared for the draft after last season, in large part because his eligibility was no guarantee because of an academic matter.
McKenzie set the school record for punt return touchdowns in 2016, but his prospect status was diminished by his 5-foot-7 height.
Traded up to take WR Isaiah McKenzie from Georgia in the 5th. An electric returner & a productive offensive player. Gives us a dual threat.
— John Elway (@johnelway) April 29, 2017
The last time Georgia didn’t have a player selected in the first round was 2014, when tight end Arthur Lynch and quarterback Aaron Murray both lasted until the fifth round. That was also the last time the Bulldogs had fewer than three players selected. The Bulldogs only had two selected that year.
In fact, the first player drafted from a school in the state of Georgia was from Albany State, a Division II school. (The player was defensive lineman Grover Stewart, selected in the fourth round and 144th overall by the Indianapolis Colts.)
Other Georgia players who had been hoping to hear their name called and now likely will sign free-agent deals: Offensive linemen Greg Pyke, Tyler Catalina and Brandon Kublanow, and defensive backs Maurice Smith and Quincy Mauger.