mel kiper-2023 nfl mock draft-georgia football
Former Georgia outside linebacker Nolan Smith (4) during Georgia’s 2023 Pro Day inside the William Porter Payne and Porter Otis Payne Indoor Athletic Facility in Athens, Ga., on Wednesday, March 15, 2023. (Tony Walsh/UGAAA)
Tony Walsh

Latest Mel Kiper Jr. 2023 NFL Mock Draft has Georgia football with 4 first-round selections

The Georgia Bulldogs led all colleges last year with five players taken in the first round of the NFL draft. If Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest projections prove true for the 2023 NFL Draft, Georgia will once again have the most first-round picks.

Kiper’s latest ESPN mock draft has four Bulldogs coming off the board in the first round, ahead of Ohio State’s three first-round selections

Most of Georgia’s work will be done early in the draft, as Kiper sees defensive tackle Jalen Carter, outside linebacker Nolan Smith and offensive tackle Broderick Jones all going in the first 13 selections. Carter is set to land with the Detroit Lions at No. 6, Smith is going to the Houston Texans at pick No. 12 and the New York Jets will end up selecting Jones.

Tight end Darnell Washington is the fourth Bulldog to come off the board, with Kiper sliding him to the Cincinnati Bengals with pick No. 28.

“People in the league rave about Smith’s leadership skills, and he was outstanding at the combine,” Kiper wrote. “I named him as one of my risers after he ran a 4.39-second 40-yard dash at 238 pounds, and this is right in the range in which he could go.

“Smith could be a foundational player for coach DeMeco Ryans, who is going to mold this defense in his own image.”

Carter was once considered a potential candidate to be the top player taken in the draft. That no longer seems to be the case following a trade between the Chicago Bears and the quarterback-needy Carolina Panthers. Carter also found himself in hot water of later as he pleaded no contest to reckless driving and racing charges. He also showed up nine pounds heavier to his pro day workout and struggled to get through drills.

Related: Jalen Carter pro day performance leaves NFL teams with only more questions

Jones meanwhile was one of the last Georgia players to leave on Pro Day following numerous team meetings. All 32 teams were in attendance in Athens, including a handful of NFL coaches and NFL general managers.

Smith, Jones and Washington were all able to further showcase NFL teams what they could do at the next level.

“It just would make me know that all that I have to work for is still there,” Smith said on being drafted. “My dream is still there to be captured really. I still get choked up, worked up thing about it because I know my grandma she is going to be crying. That’s all I want to be able to do is tell them that their boy finally made his dream come true.”

Georgia had 15 players taken in last year’s NFL draft. The Bulldogs won’t meet that same mark this time around but could very well reach double digits.

The 2023 NFL Draft is set to take place on April 27.

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