How Georgia football will replace its 2023 NFL Draft entrants
The deadline for college players to enter the 2023 NFL Draft has come and gone, with the deadline to enter taking place on Monday night. Players that have entered do have until Thursday night to remove their names from the process and it is worth pointing out players such as Sedrick Van Pran and Ladd McConkey have yet to make any public announcements on their plans following the tragic passing of Devin Willock and Chandler LeCroy.
But for the most part, we know which players will be moving on to the NFL from the 2022 Georgia team. While the Bulldogs won’t have 15 players drafted once again, a number of talented players will be suiting up in the NFL next season.
Below we take a look at which players are officially leaving and who stands to replace their production for Georgia.
Quarterback Stetson Bennett
The replacement: Carson Beck
Beck is the favorite to replace Bennett in the starting lineup at this point but the quarterback battle is far from decided. Brock Vandagriff and Gunner Stockton will both factor into the decision as to who replaces the Heisman finalist. Beck does not have the mobility that either Vandagriff or Stockton possesses, but the Jacksonville, Fla., native will be in his fourth season with offensive coordinator Todd Monken and has the best arm of Georgia’s returning quarterbacks.
Running back Kenny McIntosh
The replacement: Kendall Milton
With Daijun Edwards filling more of the bruiser role, Milton will act as the home run hitter in Georgia’s backfield. He’s also the best pass catcher in Georgia’s backfield for next season. McIntosh caught 43 passes for the Bulldogs this past season, in addition to leading the team in rushing. Milton finished strong and if he is able to stay healthy should emerge as Georgia’s top running back next season, even while sharing some of the load with Edwards and rising sophomore Branson Robinson.
Wide receiver Kearis Jackson
The replacement: Arian Smith
A versatile weapon that can play on both the outside and the slot, Jackson’s leadership and toughness will not be easily replaced. Jackson also served as a key special teams player for the Bulldogs. Smith finally got a chance to show what he can do this season, putting in a career-best effort in the win over Ohio State. If he’s able to stay healthy and develop this offseason, it should position him to be a significant contributor next season. If McConkey does turn pro, expect Smith and Missouri transfer Dominic Lovett to see more snaps, along with rising sophomore Dillon Bell.
Related: Arian Smith sums up his game-changing touchdown in the most Georgia football way possible
Tight end Darnell Washington
The replacement: Oscar Delp
Georgia already got a taste of life without Washington when he exited the Peach Bowl with an ankle injury. Delp filled in for him and drew rave reviews from both Washington and tight ends coach Todd Hartley. With Brock Bowers’ being the only other returning tight end for Georgia, Delp has a chance to carve out a prime role in the offense next season. While it will be tough to replace what Washington brought from a blocking standpoint, Delp does have more upside as a pass catcher in this offense.
Offensive tackle Broderick Jones
The replacement: Earnest Greene
We believe Georgia is going to keep Amarius Mims on the right side of the offensive line, allowing Greene to take Jones’ spot at left tackle. As a freshman, Greene impressed in spring drills last year, only to have his regular season derailed by a back injury. Greene told DawgNation at the national championship game he’ll be full-go for spring practice, which should help him get the reps needed to replace a likely first-round pick in Jones.
Offensive tackle Warren McClendon
The replacement: Amarius Mims
Perhaps the easiest replacement on the list. Mims started the final two games of the 2022 season at right tackle and is expected to take over full-time for McClendon in 2023. Mims could obviously also play left tackle as well for the Bulldogs, with Greene moving to the right side.
Related: Georgia lineman Amarius Mims shares why he’s growing into larger, promising role
Center Warren Ericson
The replacement: Austin Blaske
Like Ericson, Blaske has the versatility to play multiple spots on the offensive line. His best shot at playing time likely comes at center, especially with the talent Georgia is expected to bring back at the guard positions. Blaske will battle with Jared Wilson for reps at center. In the event Van Pran moves on to the NFL, this becomes one of the most important position battles for Georgia.
Defensive tackle Jalen Carter
The replacement: Bear Alexander
Alexander made a major statement in the national championship game, as he finished with two tackles for loss and a sack for the Bulldogs. While he may not replicate what Carter brought to the team — no player can — Alexander has a ton of upside as an interior disruptor. Carter was able to play all over the defensive line for Georgia, so no one player will replace what he brought. Look for freshman Jordan Hall to possibly take up some of the situational duties Carter had for Georgia, as he should have the ability to play on both the inside and outside for the Bulldogs.
Outside linebacker Nolan Smith
The replacement: Chaz Chambliss
Smith thrived at doing the dirty work for this Georgia team and expect Chambliss to do the same for the Bulldogs next season. He isn’t the most athletic option for Georgia but his versatility on defense and special teams is something Georgia really values. Georgia could also experiment with putting Jalon Walker here, but so far the Bulldogs have only shown a willingness to use him in pass rushing situations at this position.
Outside linebacker Robert Beal
The replacement: Marvin Jones Jr.
Jones Jr. will be one of the most important offseason players for the Bulldogs. He has tremendous upside but battled injuries during the course of his freshman season. He’s going to be counted on the play a significant role for the Bulldogs this fall. Georgia did sign three outside linebackers in the 2023 recruiting cycle, with 5-star Damon Wilson being best positioned to help right away for Georgia.
Cornerback Kelee Ringo
The replacement: Daylen Everette
The battle to replace Ringo should be one of the most interesting ones to watch this off-season. Georgia does bring back Kamari Lassiter at the other cornerback position, so the Bulldogs aren’t starting over like they were at the start of the 2021 season. Everette impressed coaches constantly this season and was the No. 3 cornerback on Georgia’s depth chart this year. But expect Nyland Green, Julian Humphrey and AJ Harris to push for that starting spot. All three will contend with Everette during spring practice, with Daniel Harris and Chris Peal arriving this summer at the cornerback position.
Safety Chris Smith
The replacement: Javon Bullard
Georgia has a number of ways it could go in replacing Smith but there is no obvious candidate. Dan Jackson returns for Georgia after suffering a foot injury during the 2022 season. David Daniel-Sisavanh got some looks late in the year in Georgia’s dime package. Expectations will be high for freshman safety Joenel Aguero, especially after what Malaki Starks did this year. But we think Bullard gets a long look at the safety position, with Tykee Smith taking some snaps at the star position in the event Bullard does make the move.
Related: Javon Bullard demonstrates the importance of in-state recruiting for Georgia: ‘I couldn’t dream this big’
Kicker Jack Podlesny
The replacement: Peyton Woodring
It will be a battle between the freshman Woodring and 2020 signee Jared Zirkel at the kicker position this offseason. That Woodring doesn’t arrive until the summer should give Zirkel a chance to impress. But Zirkel lost both the place-kicking and kickoff duties to Podlesny earlier in his career and we think the upside of Woodring is something that can’t be ignored. He made a 60-yard field goal as a high school senior.
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