How Georgia football is going to replace its 14 NFL combine participants

Georgia football-2022 NFL combine-replacements
Georgia offensive lineman Broderick Jones (59) during the Bulldogs’ game against Vanderbilt at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Tony Walsh

The Georgia football program dominated the 2022 NFL Combine. The Bulldogs sent more players to the combine than any other school, 14, and most of those players helped demonstrate why Georgia was able to win a National Championship last season.

Those invitees will now become draft picks. But with all that talent off to the NFL, it leaves Kirby Smart and his coaching staff with a number of holes to fill. Roster churn is nothing new for college football programs and Georgia is about as well-positioned as any program can be in terms of handling this exodus of talent.

Georgia has signed a top-5 recruiting class in each of the last five recruiting cycles, with Alabama being the only other program that can say as much. The Bulldogs bring back some key members from the 2021 team, such as quarterback Stetson Bennett, tight end Brock Bowers and defensive back Kelee Ringo.

But many of the replacements for these combine stars will go from small roles to playing leading parts. That’s the way the Georgia program works, with the likes of James Cook, Travon Walker and Channing Tindall all at one point being bit players before emerging into major contributors.

Below, we identify one player who can help replace some of what each of the NFL draft hopefuls brought to the 2021 team. With spring practice set to start next week, we’ll find out quickly how some of these players are shaping in hopes of replacing the many talented members from last season’s team.

The 14 replacements for Georgia football 2022 NFL combine invitees

James Cook: running back Kenny McIntosh

McIntosh may not have the explosiveness that Cook possesses, but the senior running back has flashed plenty of ability in his time in Athens. He’s a dependable pass-catcher as he caught 22 passes a season ago. He’s also shown the ability to make defenders miss in space. Look for Todd Monken to put McIntosh in more advantageous situations now that Cook is off to the NFL.

Zamir White: running back Kendall Milton

Milton’s first two seasons at Georgia are not dissimilar from that of White. The latter battled knee injuries early in his time at Georgia, while Milton has had to miss games in each of his first two seasons due to MCL injuries. Talent has never been a question for the physical running back and if Milton is able to stay on the field, he’s likely to showcase some of the explosiveness that made him such a coveted running back recruit.

George Pickens: wide receiver AD Mitchell

Georgia does not have a replacement for what a healthy Pickens could be. But Pickens played in only four games last season, so Georgia is accustomed to playing without him. Mitchell made the most of his opportunities as a freshman and a second year in Monken’s system could help Mitchell further develop as a play-maker for the Georgia offense. Another name to monitor here would be Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint, provided he stays healthy.

Jamaree Salyer: left tackle Broderick Jones

This is one of the easier replacements to predict, given we saw Jones start four games at left tackle when Salyer was injured during the 2021 season. Jones also gained valuable reps at left tackle in the National Championship game as well.

Related: ‘Put it on us:’ Jamaree Salyer position change opens up offense in National Championship win for Georgia

Justin Shaffer: left guard Tate Ratledge

Ratledge started Georgia’s opening game against Clemson last season following an impressive showing during the offseason. However, Ratledge broke his foot on the opening drive of the game, sidelining him for the season. If Ratledge is able to practice this spring, it will go a long way in helping the Georgia offensive line reach its potential in 2022.

Devonte Wyatt: Jalen Carter

Carter could probably be a replacement for all three defensive linemen here, but we’ll go with Wyatt. Carter was a force in 2021 and often displayed moments of individual brilliance. He’ll be asked to do even more in 2022, but he’s talented enough to do so.

Jordan Davis: Zion Logue

There is no replacing Davis. There simply are not human beings with Davis’ combination of size and speed. Logue though won’t be a complete drop-off from Davis. He has started for Georgia before and with how often Georgia rotates on the defensive line, Logue enters the 2022 season with plenty of experience.

Travon Walker: Tramel Walthour

Like Logue, Walthour brings plenty of experience to the 2022 team. The Bulldogs also have a younger prospect they could turn to here in Mykel Williams, provided he gets brought up to speed in time. Williams could follow a similar track to Walker, where he starts off as a role player before developing into an every-down contributor as his career progresses.

Nakobe Dean: Jamon Dumas-Johnson

It seemed like every time Dumas-Johnson stepped on the field in 2021, the freshman linebacker made plays. He’ll be asked to do much more in replacing the Butkus Award-winning Dean, but there’s a real excitement around what the Maryland native might be able to do with more playing time.

Quay Walker: Smael Mondon

Mondon found himself on the field quite a lot in 2021, thanks to Georgia’s special teams units and the number of blowouts. Like Walker, athleticism is Mondon’s biggest strength. That should allow him to stay on the field, regardless of the matchup.

Channing Tindall: Xavian Sorey

It’s worth mentioning Georgia does have veterans in Trezmen Marshall and Rian Davis at the linebacker spot, but both have battled injury during their Georgia careers. Sorey is a little rawer than Mondon and Dumas-Johnson, but he flashed some serious upside last season in limited playing time in 2021.

Derion Kendrick: Kamari Lassiter

Georgia will have only four scholarship cornerbacks on the roster this spring, with one of them being Ringo. Nyland Green and Daylen Everette will see plenty of reps and push hard to replace Kendrick. But Lassiter shined in fall camp last year for Georgia and there’s a real optimism about what he might bring to Georgia’s secondary.

Lewis Cine: Dan Jackson

This is perhaps the toughest position for Georgia to find a replacement. Many will want to see 5-star signee Malaki Starks here or transfer Tykee Smith. But Starks has only been on campus for two months at this point and Georgia will want to limit expectations of him. Smith meanwhile is still recovering from a knee injury he suffered last October. Jackson saw valuable snaps last year and while he is a walk-on, has played like a scholarship player.

Related: ESPN wants to see which defenders will ‘stand out’ for new-look Georgia defense this spring

Jake Camarda: Brett Thorson

Camarda has been Georgia’s starting punter for the past four seasons, so the Bulldogs went out and signed Thorson as a member of the 2022 signing class. The 21-year old comes all the way from Australia to help keep Georgia’s special teams units in top form.

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