ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart said Wednesday he has been impressed with JT Daniels in practice, but he’s still looking for improvement.
If Daniels improves much more over his 401-yard passing performance against Mississippi State last Saturday, the No. 9-ranked Bulldogs might be looking for yet another new quarterback next season.
CBS Sports latest 2021 NFL Mock Draft projects Daniels to be the first-round pick of the Chicago Bears, which would make him the fifth quarterback selected and the No. 16 overall pick.
“Daniels is a top talent with a strong arm, rapid release and accuracy to all levels of the field,” CBS’ Chris Trapasso writes in his latest first-round mock, released on Wednesday. “And if he continues to play like did in his Georgia debut, there will be first-round buzz for him.”
The Bulldogs play at South Carolina at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Smart indicated on Tuesday that Stetson Bennett, who went 3-2 as UGA’s starter earlier this season, would likely be the next man up if something were to happen with Daniels.
This will mark Daniels’ third consecutive week working with the first team after spending most of the regular season on the scout team while rehabilitating from offseason knee surgery.
“In practice you don’t get as real reps as you get on Saturdays; there’s no substitution for Saturday reps, in terms of functioning on third downs,” Smart said, likely referring to Daniels’ 10-of-11 third down passing accuracy in the 31-24 win last Saturday.
“During the week you could see the run checks, the organization, the motions, the shifts, the hard counts. A lot of that stuff you can evaluate during the week, but the timing of things is so much more realistic in a game.
“To to see him do that well was very promising, and we’ll want him to continue to improve and make good decisions and not force things.”
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is the projected No. 1 overall pick (to the New York Jets), per CBS, with Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields expected to go No. 2 to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
BYU quarterback Zach Wilson is projected to be the third QB off the board (No. 5, Washington Redskins), followed by Florida’s Kyle Trask (No. 13, New England) and then Daniels.
Georgia cornerback Tyson Campbell (No. 25, New York Jets) is the only other Bulldogs projected to be selected in the first round.