Eagles continue tapping Georgia pipeline on final day of NFL draft

Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles added former Georgia Bulldogs on both sides of the ball on the final day of the 2023 NFL Draft Saturday in Kansas City, Mo.

Before the start of the fourth round, the Eagles traded up into the third pick of the day, No. 105 overall, by dealing a 2024 third-rounder to the Houston Texans. The Eagles used that selection on cornerback Kelee Ringo, the fifth Georgia defender they’ve drafted in two years.

The NFC champions then traded for Detroit Lions running back D’Andre Swift, who projects as their new first-string running back after the departure of Miles Sanders in free agency. Swift is a Philadelphia native and also played collegiately at Georgia.

“He’s got big-play ability as a runner and receiver,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said in an interview on the ESPN broadcast. “We saw it first-hand when we were in Detroit first game of the season. … We liked our running backs. We didn’t go into the draft feeling like this was a position we had to have. But we felt like this player was somebody who could really add to our culture and add to our team.

“And I’m sure I’m out of the Florida alumni association as we speak.”

On Thursday, the Eagles drafted Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter No. 9 overall and Bulldogs pass-rusher Nolan Smith at No. 30. Philadelphia also spent first- and third-round picks in the 2022 draft on Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis and linebacker Nakobe Dean.

Ringo had four interceptions in 30 career games over two seasons at Georgia, which fielded a record-setting defense in 2021 and dominated on that side of the ball again in 2022 en route to two straight national titles. The Bulldogs led FBS with 77.1 rushing yards allowed per game and ranked fifth in scoring defense at 14.3 ppg.

“I’m super excited, just to have the opportunity to go to the Eagles overall, but it definitely makes it better … with my past teammates from the University of Georgia,” Ringo said. “Definitely our bonds are going to continue to grow.”

Swift, 24, is entering the final year of his rookie contract after three seasons with the Lions. In 40 career games (16 starts), Swift rushed for 1,680 yards (4.6 per attempt) and 18 touchdowns. But the Lions used a first-round pick Thursday on Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs, signaling their interest in moving on from Swift.

The teams swapped seventh-round picks in the deal, and the Eagles sent Detroit a 2025 fourth-rounder, according to multiple reports.

Meanwhile, 12 quarterbacks were taken in the first five rounds, setting a record for the common draft era. Three quarterbacks were selected in the fourth round and five more went in the fifth.

The New Orleans Saints traded up with the Jacksonville Jaguars to No. 127 overall and selected quarterback Jake Haener from Fresno State. Haener was the Senior Bowl MVP and the first Fresno State quarterback to be drafted since Derek Carr — whom the Saints signed as a free agent in March to be their new starter.

“Derek texted me and said that he knew what (the Saints) were gonna do, and he just told me to give him a call when I got off the phone with everybody,” Haener said.

With the very next pick, the Los Angeles Rams drafted Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett, who started for the Bulldogs in each of the past two seasons and helped them win back-to-back titles. Bennett threw for 4,128 yards, 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2022, added 10 rushing touchdowns and finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting.

Fourteen quarterbacks went in all, the final one being TCU’s Max Duggan to the Los Angeles Chargers in the seventh round (No. 239). Duggan was the Heisman Trophy runner-up and guided the Horned Frogs to their first College Football Playoff appearance before a loss in the national title game.

The New England Patriots traded up with their division rival New York Jets in the fourth round to take Maryland kicker Chad Ryland at No. 112 overall, then selected Michigan State punter Bryce Baringer in the sixth round (No. 192). That made the Patriots the first team since the 2000 Raiders to pick a kicker and a punter in the same draft.

At No. 212 overall in the sixth round, the Dallas Cowboys selected Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn, whose father Chris Vaughn works as Dallas’ assistant director of college scouting.

The Rams used the 259th and final pick on Toledo defensive end Desjuan Johnson, making him the newest “Mr. Irrelevant.” Johnson followed San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, who was last year’s Mr. Irrelevant before taking over the 49ers’ starting job late in the season due to injuries and leading them to the NFC Championship Game.

Teams set a modern-day record with 41 trades during the draft.

Quarterbacks selected in the 2023 NFL Draft:
No. 1 overall: Bryce Young (Alabama), Carolina Panthers
No. 2: C.J. Stroud (Ohio State), Houston Texans
No. 4: Anthony Richardson (Florida), Indianapolis Colts
No. 33: Will Levis (Kentucky), Tennessee Titans
No. 68: Hendon Hooker (Tennessee), Detroit Lions
No. 127: Jake Haener (Fresno State), New Orleans Saints
No. 128: Stetson Bennett (Georgia), Los Angeles Rams
No. 135: Aidan O’Connell (Purdue), Las Vegas Raiders
No. 139: Clayton Tune (Houston), Arizona Cardinals
No. 140: Dorian Thompson-Robinson (UCLA), Cleveland Browns
No. 149: Sean Clifford (Penn State), Green Bay Packers
No. 164: Jaren Hall (BYU), Minnesota Vikings
No. 188: Tanner McKee (Stanford), Philadelphia Eagles
No. 239: Max Duggan (TCU), Los Angeles Chargers

–Field Level Media

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