Ask the average college football fan which Georgia offensive player will go first in the 2018 NFL Draft, and they would likely choose between between Sony Michel and Nick Chubb.
But analysts aren’t betting on either player to be first off the board; that distinction goes to guard Isaiah Wynn, who many predict will be a first-round choice on Thursday night. (Not that they’ve spent that much time talking about him.)
Outside of superstar linebacker Roquan Smith, Michel and Chubb were the focus of most conversations DawgNation had with draft experts this month. Of course, Georgia has produced a strong crop of defensive talent, too. We broke down Smith and the rest of that group on Tuesday.
Now, it’s time for a deep dive on “O.” Here’s what you need to know:
Isaiah Wynn, offensive lineman
Wynn played left tackle for the Bulldogs in 2017, but his future is likely at guard, where he played from 2014-16. Experts agree that Wynn — the guard, at least — is a bona fide first-round prospect who will most likely hear his name called on Thursday night.
One thing working against him: This is a strong class for guards. Many experts consider Notre Dame’s Quentin Nelson and UTEP’s Will Hernandez to be stronger prospects than Wynn.
“There are other guys who are stealing the headlines,” SB Nation’s Dan Kadar told DawgNation. “But I think Wynn is just as good or better than Hernandez, and just an absolute technician. He’s good to go from a power standpoint. I’m a huge fan of his. He’s a guy who steps right into a starting lineup and is probably right on the verge of being a Pro Bowl player early in his career.”
Kadar said “a lot of first-round teams need guards,” with Buffalo (No. 22), Jacksonville (No. 29) and New England (No. 31) being potential landing spots.
Senior Bowl organizer Phil Savage said Wynn “doesn’t have the height or the length out there to hold up on a consistent basis,” but could be a “stopgap” tackle for teams in a pinch. Savage called him a potential “prominent guard” in the league and expects him to start early.
Per Sporting News’ Eric Galko, the 6-foot-3, 313-pound Wynn “feels like a lock” for the first round of the draft on Thursday.
NFL teams’ general love for SEC offensive lineman will help him, as will teams’ widespread need for O-line prospects. Wynn’s versatility is an asset, as is his rookie status; Galko pointed out that teams would rather draft a Day 1 starter like Wynn than spend big on the open market.
“Scarcity goes up, contracts go up,” Galko said. “Why sign a vet for $13 million a year, when you can spend a first-rounder on Wynn and sign him for $3 million, $4 million?”
Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, running backs
Two of the three most prolific rushers in Georgia history are available this weekend, and analysts still can’t quite decide who will have the more successful career.
Michel — a dual-threat back who teams see as Alvin Kamara 2.0 — seemed like the consensus choice for awhile, but Chubb — seen as more of two-down, traditional option — put on a spectacular performance at the combine to boost his stock.
“I think I already regret putting Nick Chubb as a late-second, early-third round pick, because he might be this year’s Kareem Hunt,” Sporting News’ Eric Galko told DawgNation. “I think Michel is more highly viewed by NFL teams across the board because of that big-play ability, that perimeter run style that NFL teams want nowadays, I think Nick Chubb could be the more long-term running back in the NFL.”
NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks offered scouting reports on both players.
These were his thoughts on Michel:
“Sony is dynamic. He’s explosive. He’s proven to be a very, very effective runner and receiver. … I think he will benefit from the Alvin Kamara comparison that many scouts have put on him. When you look at the impact that Kamara was able to have with the New Orleans Saints, as a change-of-pace or matchup weapon, I think many offensive coordinators will view [Michel] like that. And because of that, I think he can go anywhere from the bottom of the first round to the top of the second round for a team that is looking for a chess piece to manipulate on the board.”
And his thoughts on Chubb:
“Nick Chubb, to me, is an old-school downhill running back. He’s a guy that traditionally would’ve played in the ’80s and ’90s, come downhill, put him as the ‘dot’ in the I-Formation and let him have 25 to 30 carries. In today’s game, that is more of a niche role where you see those guys play on first and second down.
“And because of that, I think his value will be depressed a little bit. I see him as maybe a solid second-round back. A guy that goes and joins a rotation. Handles the early duties before giving way to another back that can handle some of the things in the passing game.”
SB Nation’s Dan Kadar pointed to Michel’s fumbling problems as a red flag, but agreed that NFL teams are more excited about him than Chubb. Calling Michel “the more explosive and dynamic player in space, and a better pass-catcher,” Kadar noted that Michel is “viewed as a big-play threat, and teams want that right now.”
He said there are three or four teams near the top of the draft that are interested in Penn State’s Saquon Barkely. Simple math says all but one are going to still be looking for a running back near the top of Round 2, which is where many analysts expect Michel to come off the board.
While the running back class is deep between the second and fourth rounds, NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said that won’t impact Michel much.
“I think you can get a little carried away with the depth of this running back class,” Jeremiah said. “For example, if you have huge grades on Sony Michel and you’re picking at the bottom of the first round or top of the second round — even though you like a guy like [Miami’s] Mark Walton or [Auburn’s] Kerryon Johnson later on — if you have conviction in the entire room, I think you just take [Michel]. I don’t think you get cute.”
Kadar said if Chubb goes ahead of Michel, it will be because that particular NFL team already has backfield personnel in place to support a traditional runner like Chubb.
For instance, the Cleveland Browns already have Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde to fill most of the things that Michel does, so the Browns might grab Chubb at No. 33 or No. 35 overall. It’s also possible that NFL teams expect Chubb to contribute in the passing game. He only caught 4 passes last year, but performed well in related drills at the combine.
“Sometimes, I think running backs can get knocked based on a lack of opportunity,” Kadar said. “You always wonder, was there just not an opportunity there for him to show it? Maybe that’s the case. Maybe it isn’t. But that is one of the questions about him.”
In the words of Senior Bowl director Phil Savage: “I think the consensus view is that Sony is a little more versatile as a runner and receiver out of the backfield, although I have to say that when Nick Chubb showed up at the combine, he showed up really well as a receiver in the drills and the pro day workout. So maybe there’s not as much disparity as people thought coming out of the fall.”
Javon Wims, wide receiver
Javon Wims established himself as a physically dominant SEC receiver in 2017, and for that, analysts now consider him a draftable NFL prospect.
Problem is, the middle of the draft is loaded with similarly-rated pass-catchers, and Wims will likely need tremendous support from a specific scouting department to get a phone call in the third or fourth rounds.
There’s a lot to love about the 6-foot-4, 215-pound wideout, according to Galko.
“He’s awesome in the air,” Galko said. “I think he finishes with great strength. I think he works in isolation really well. Took advantage of 1-on-1 opportunities consistently when the quarterback needed him to. He ended up being the outside main threat for Georgia, and that’s a tough task playing in the SEC all year long.”
A shoulder bruise kept Wims out of the Senior Bowl last February, but Savage still had some positive things to say about him.
“He fits that profile of that outside, power-forward type receiver,” Savage said. “The back-shoulder fade catcher. Red-zone kinda guy. For teams looking for a bigger type of receiver, I’d think somebody would roll the dice on him.”
If Wims is still on the board after Round 5, it will be a stressful final stretch for the former Bulldogs receiver.
“He’s certainly earned draftable grades from most teams I’ve talked to,” Galko said, “but once you get to that sixth-round area, it’s no guarantee you’ll be drafted.”
Where do you think these four players will land in the NFL draft? Let us know in the comments section below.