The 2023 NFL Draft cycle at last came to a conclusion on Saturday. But as anyone who follows the draft knows, that just means it’s time to look ahead to the 2024 NFL Draft.
ESPN’s Todd McShay released his way-to-early mock draft for next year’s event. He prefaced it by pointing out that only 14 of his 32 projected first-round picks from his way-too-early 2023 mock draft ended up becoming first-rounders this year. Two of them, Alabama’s Eli Ricks and Emil Ekiyor, went undrafted.
The first Bulldog off the board shouldn’t come as a surprise, as McShay slotted tight end Brock Bowers to the Indianapolis Colts with the No. 6 pick in the draft.
Bowers won the Mackey Award last season as the nation’s top tight end. He’s led Georgia in receiving in each of his first two seasons and is poised to be the team’s top weapon once again in 2023. He’ll greatly help whoever wins Georgia’s starting quarterback job, which at this point looks to be Carson Beck.
The last tight end taken in the top 10 was Florida’s Kyle Pitts, who went No. 4 in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The second first-rounder might be a surprise to some. McShay has defensive back Javon Bullard landing with the Buffalo Bills at pick No. 29.
“He’s undersized at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, but he is super quick and versatile,” McShay wrote. “Bullard -- who had two interceptions and 50 tackles for the national champs last season -- has experience at both corner and safety, though I could see him settling into a nickel role in the pros.”
Georgia played Bullard at the safety position this spring, moving from the star spot on the defense. The star position is essentially a nickel role for the Bulldogs.
There was only one tight end taken in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, as Dalton Kincaid went to the Bills with the No. 25 pick. The first safety off the board was Brian Branch of Alabama. He though did not get picked until the second round, landing with the Detroit Lions at pick No. 45.
Georgia has had eight first-round draft picks over the last two cycles, the most of any program. Other Bulldogs who have first-round potential include offensive tackle Amarius Mims, defensive tackle Naz Stackhouse, inside linebacker Smael Mondon and cornerback Kamari Lassiter.
McShay had Caleb Williams of USC going first overall and a total of three quarterbacks going in the first round. Ohio State is currently projected to have six first-round draft picks according to McShay.
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