Jenkins, Williams selected in third round of NFL draft

It was a quiet Friday night for Georgia players in the NFL draft until things got busy more than halfway through the third round.

That’s when New Orleans selected nose guard John Jenkins and Cincinnati tabbed safety Shawn Williams two picks later

The Saints traded to get the No. 82 overall pick and took the 6-foot-3, 346-pound Jenkins.

“It’s crazy,” Jenkins told reporters in New Orleans. “As a child when you start playing this sport, you think that you want to be a professional athlete and then it’s just a dream but when it comes true, it’s like wow, I can’t believe this is happening right now. I’m just caught up in the moment.”

The Bengals, who already have a roster chock full of former Georgia players, grabbed the 6-foot, 213-pound Williams at pick No. 84.

Cincinnati has drafted five Georgia players in the last four years, including Geno Atkins, Clint Boling, A.J. Green and Orson Charles.

“It was exciting because I know that I have so many Georgia players that have been here, and they’re in Cincinnati and doing great things with the Bengals,” Williams told the Cincinnati media. “When I got the phone call and they told me, I was like, ‘Add me to the list of Bengals from Georgia, and let’s go off and do something great and help the team win and do whatever I can.’”

Williams said Atkins was a role model when he arrived at Georgia.

“Same thing goes with A.J. Green — he was here my freshman year,” Williams said. “Me and Orson came in together, so it’s amazing that we can be teammates again.”

New Orleans defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was at Georgia’s pro day last month when Williams and Jenkins worked out, along with first-round linebackers Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree.

“With John, the thing’s that impressive, obviously he’s got size,” Saints coach Sean Payton said in a news conference. “He’s got good initial quickness. He’s a hard worker, has good character. It’s important to him. … His get-off and his initial quickness is something that stood out. He’s been disruptive. I like the size of the player. We talked about trying to get bigger and this is one step in that direction.”

Jenkins, who also saw time at end last season, played at up to 370 pounds last season.

Payton said expects him to play in the 340 to 345 range. Payton said he got “a little bit more exposure” to the Georgia program when defensive coordinator Todd Grantham interviewed with the Saints.

Now Jenkins will play for Payton.

“I don’t mind being a Saint, I’m kind of happy though to be honest with you,” said Jenkins, a native of Meriden, Conn. “I was down there when I went to junior college and I got accustomed to that area. I was down in the Mississippi Gulf Coast area, so I know a lot of people and supporters out there that I get to see again.”

As a strong safety, Williams, from Damascus, was second on the Bulldogs with 98 tackles last season and fueled the defense by calling them “soft” prior to the Florida win.

“Shawn Williams has great physical tools and has been a great leader down there on that defensive football team at the University of Georgia,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “There are a lot of good players on that team, and he’s done an outstanding job down there. Been a quarterback for the defense on the field and is an aggressive, aggressive player. He’s got great speed, quickness, measurable, moving in and out, so, we really feel like he comes here and has an opportunity again to compete for an opportunity to play and will for sure upgrade us on special teams as well. If he’s not a starting player, he’ll play and make us better on special teams.”

After Jones and Ogletree were taken Thursday night, rounds two and three looked to be prime landing spots for a few former Bulldogs, but it took a while.

Georgia Southern safety JJ Wilcox went to the Cowboys in the third round before any Georgia safety did.

Safety Bacarri Rambo, defensive end/outside linebacker Cornelius Washington, cornerback Sanders Commings, receiver Tavarres King and nose guard Kwame Geathers are among players still available today when the draft resumes at noon and wraps up rounds four through seven

Jones (No. 17, Pittsburgh) and Ogletree (No. 30, St. Louis) flew Friday to appear at news conferences for their new teams.

“I really want to thank the Rams organization for taking a chance on me,” Ogletree said as he was introduced in St. Louis. “I’m ready to get to work.”

Ogletree was happy to be drafted in the first round after off-field issues — multiple suspensions and a DUI — caused him to drop from the first half of the round.

“I’m very comfortable in my ability to tackle somebody, run ‘em down,” Ogletree said. “I feel like between the lines, nobody’s faster.”

Said Rams coach Jeff Fisher: “He’ll put himself in position to make plays. He can chase down. He has excellent speed, pursuit speed to where he can close very quickly. That’s what we need in our division.”

 

 

 

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