The Philadelphia Eagles have infiltrated the pipeline at Georgia, drafting an NFL-record five players on defense from the Bulldogs' 2021 National Championship defense over the last two drafts. Not only are the Eagles drafting Georgia players, they are acquiring them in trades during the 2023 NFL Draft.
Philadelphia parted ways with a 2023 seventh-round pick and a 2025 fourth-round pick for Detroit Lions running back D'Andre Swift, who also played at Georgia. The Eagles are certainly familiar with Georgia players on defense -- and Alabama players on offense -- over the last three drafts, understanding where the talent comes from in the SEC.
So why are the Eagles targeting Athens more than anywhere else in the NFL? There are two members of the scouting department responsible for monitoring that area -- Director of Draft Management Phil Bhaya and Director of Player Personnel Alan Wolking. Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman credits those individuals for why they have such a good read on Georgia players.
"I think those guys do a tremendous job in the SEC," Roseman said. "It was funny because I was saying this, and I'm not trying to overshadow those guys because they do a great job, but I went to Georgia last year at practice, and I remember coming back and being like -- Coach was like, 'who did you like there?' and I'm like, I don't know, like the whole defense."
Roseman is infatuated with the Georgia players, but plenty of credit goes to Bhaya and Wolking. Bhaya has been with the Eagles for 10 years and was a Southeast area scout before being promoted to his current role in 2022. He played his college ball at Princeton and earned the school's Harland "Pink" Baker Award for excellence in scholarship and athletics.
Wolking has been with the Eagles since 2011 and was originally hired by Andy Reid. He is a former high school football coach and defensive backs coach at Northwestern.
Roseman significantly trusts the input of both Bhaya and Wolkins, especially with Bhaya being a fast riser in the organization. Not only are these two responsible for the team drafting five starters on the 2021 national championship defense at Georgia -- but the Eagles' influx of Alabama offensive players -- including DeVonta Smith and Landon Dickerson.
They are also part of the brain trust who got the Eagles to select Jalen Hurts, who just signed a five-year, $255 million extension with the Eagles and led the franchise to the Super Bowl in an MVP runner-up season.
The Eagles are clearly controlling the pipeline at Georgia -- and the SEC. Eleven picks in the last three drafts have come from the SEC, out of 19 selections heading into the sixth round of the 2023 draft.
"It's just kind of amazing to think of all these guys that we got, these two guys came in today, and I know you guys had a chance to sit down with them, and they're lobbying for like three more guys," Roseman said with a laugh. "I was worried they were going to relegate us to the SEC if we took more Georgia guys."