Jamaree Salyer was surrounded by friends and family on Friday night for the 2022 NFL Draft.
His high school line coach from Pace Academy was there. So was his strength coach. There were football balloons and a big red inflatable “69″ for his jersey number tied up to a fence.
He was supported by two well-known former college roommates. Current New York Giants Andrew Thomas (first-round pick, 2019) and Azeez Ojulari (second-round pick, 2021) were at the backyard draft get-together.
They were there to see their close friend go off the board on the second day of the NFL Draft. It was fitting. Salyer was there for them on their draft days.
But the versatile all-around talent didn’t get that life-shaping phone call on Friday night. It was a similar ordeal to what Ojulari went through a year ago with his draft day.
Sayler finally heard his name called in the sixth round on Saturday afternoon. He had just gotten a text from Georgia coach Kirby Smart saying that he was talking to the Chargers.
“Coach said he was fighting for me,” Salyer said.
His phone rang less than five minutes later. There was some California Love on the other end of that call.
When he was selected, he made history. Salyer became the 13th Bulldog to go off the board in the NFL Draft. The all-time Georgia record for players taken in the modern era of the NFL Draft had been nine.
Zamir White had heard in the fourth round and set the new record as the 10th selection from the 2021 team. Tampa Bay then selected Jake Camarda in the fourth round, too.
Jamaree Salyer: The NFL Draft waiting game finally ends
When he finally got that call, he was emotional. Salyer hit 31 reps with 225 pounds on the bench press at the NFL Combine. He’ll head to his new team ready to press that weight off his chest 40 times.
Sayler was expected to hear his name called anywhere between the 90th and 150th picks of the draft. That was what all the analysts and mock drafters had been theorizing.
That must have been hard for a player so determined and focused that he was named one of Georgia’s four permanent team captains for the 2021 national champions.
There was a defensive end that went off the board on Friday night he basically dribbled on the field when they met last season.
Another name was picked that didn’t have anywhere near as good of a showing in The Senior Bowl as he did.
There were tackles that gave up multiple sacks to Michigan’s Aiden Hutchinson. When Salyer faced that talented edge rusher, he did not allow any sacks and controlled him for the game. Hutcheson was the second overall pick of the entire draft.
Salyer’s draft moment finally came on Saturday afternoon as the 195th overall pick.
He’d gone through the draft experiences as part of the draft parties for Thomas and Ojulari. He knew the call would come first before anything scrolled across the TV or on social media.
There were certain teams he felt like he had a chance with. So he’d watch the draft ticker and perk his ears up when those teams were moving closer to their turn for a pick. Word began to trickle out that some teams were looking at his medical report.
There was a core group of teams he felt had given him the indication they were really interested. The Saints. The Falcons. The Giants. The Raiders.
It was finally the Chargers.
Salyer was just the fourth member of Georgia’s offense to come off the board so far.
The 6-foot-3, 321-pounder came into college as the highest-rated offensie guard prospect in over 10 years but never made his mark there for Georgia. Salyer shined with a much tougher role.
He found his way starting at left tackle in the SEC over the past two seasons. Salyer made 20 of his 23 starts for Georgia at left tackle. That’s the toughest position on the line in the most rugged conference in the land.
There were two starts at right tackle and one start at right guard. The former Pace Academy All-American was ranked as the nation’s No. 1 OG and the No. 10 overall prospect coming out of high school in 2018 by the 247Sports Composite scale.
It was a moment that fit what he had been dreaming of and working so hard to make a reality.
“It is just about what I thought it would be,” Salyer said. “Surrounded by people I love. Kind of a calm setting. It is kind of what I imagined it to be like.”
“I knew when it happened it was going to be emotional for sure. Special. Just all the people you see here around me kind of put something in my life one way or another. I knew it was definitely going to be a special moment.”
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‘Dawgs in the Draft