Curtis Compton/AJC
Running backs Nick Chubb (27) and Sony Michel (1) will be a part of a big NFL draft class of Georgia in 2018.

Don’t expect much from Georgia football in the 2017 NFL Draft, but 2018 will be a different story

Welcome to your one-stop shop for Georgia football news and takes every Monday through Friday. There isn’t much to look forward to in the 2017 NFL Draft with regards to Georgia. But that should change markedly in 2018.

Track: Draft Morning | Artist: The Byrds | Album: The Notorious Byrd Brothers

There’s always next year

In the first rounds of the 2015 and 2016 NFL drafts, Georgia was represented by Todd Gurley and Leonard Floyd, respectively. But there will be no Bulldogs called in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft on Thursday night. In fact, it will be a meager affair for Georgia throughout the draft, with only a few former Bulldogs — Isaiah McKenzie, Brandon Kublanow and Greg Pyke — possibly getting drafted. All of them are likely to come in the late rounds, if they come at all. Georgia could match or even get less than it did in the 2014 draft when only two Dawgs were selected — the least in the last 25 years.

The reason for Georgia’s light load this year is simple: attrition, particularly from the 2013 recruiting class. So, this lean year shouldn’t have you worried about UGA’s future potential in the NFL draft. In fact, 2018 is shaping up as a banner draft year for Dawgs. And the obvious names to have their names called next year are the four rising seniors who chose to return for next season instead of declaring early: Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy.

Of those four, Chubb is the most highly regarded. At the moment, there are only a few tailbacks likely to be drafted before him — Saquon Barkley and Royce Freeman, to name a few. A return to the form he had before his knee injury during his sophomore season could help Chubb jump back into contention for first RB taken. Michel is likely a solid mid-round guy at the moment but could see his stock rise if coach Kirby Smart and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney involve him more in the passing game and make him a potential third-down specialist at the next level.

Although Carter and Bellamy aren’t the cream of the OLB crop, they are among the best who will be coming out next year. And considering every NFL team is looking for versatile OLBs, they shouldn’t have a problem finding a landing spot, especially if they continue to develop along with the rest of what should be a staunch Georgia defense.

Besides those four seniors, there’s Dominick Sanders and Aaron Davis, along with a number of rising juniors who could make the jump, such as Trent Thompson, Roquan Smith, Jonathan Ledbetter, and Natrez Patrick. So, it should be a good year numbers-wise for the Dawgs in the 2018 draft.

However, it seems unlikely that 2018 will see a player such as Gurley, Floyd or A.J. Green, a surefire first-round talent, come out next season. Thompson could do it with a really good season on the line, as could Chubb if he makes another leap forward and teams are desperate for a No. 1 tailback. So, prepare for back-to-back years of a UGA-less first round.

Which is all to say, if the only thing you care about in the NFL draft is where Georgia Bulldogs go, you’ll probably be safe to tune out Saturday or just get updates online. But in 2018, you might have to stay glued to your TV quite a bit longer.

Lots of options at slot receiver

Georgia is still searching for answers at receiver, but the Bulldogs aren’t hurting for options in the slot. And based on what we saw on G-Day, Chaney is planning to try quite a few different looks to replace McKenzie. From Jason Butt of The Telegraph.:

[TE Charlie] Woerner is one of six targets who figures to rotate into Georgia’s slot receiver position. It just so happens that in this group there are two receivers [Terry Godwin, Mecole Hardman], two running backs [Sony Michel, Brian Herrien] and two tight ends [Charlie Woerner, Isaac Nauta].

As Butt noted, prior to Woerner’s 36-yard TD catch from Jacob Eason, he came out of the slot. If Chaney and Smart are really committed to the idea of WR by committee and regularly trot out the six aforementioned guys into the slot, they should be able to create a lot of favorable matchups. It’ll be an interesting little wrinkle to keep an eye on in 2017.

A look back at the 1980 Georgia-South Carolina game

Bill Connelly has been taking a look at some of the best games of every year as an offshoot of his book, The 50 Best College Football Teams of All Time, and he chose Georgia’s 13-10 win against South Carolina as the best game of 1980.

Vince Dooley won the most important recruiting battle of his life when he secured the services of Johnson County (Ga.) High School’s Herschel Walker, an all-world prospect from rural Georgia. He fended off most of the country’s powers to win Walker, and within 12 months he had also won a national title.

We didn’t know that on the first day of November, however. Walker’s star turn had come in the season opener, a one-point win over Tennessee, and the Dawgs just eked by in wins over unranked Clemson (20-16) and Ole Miss (28-21 with an injured Walker). South Carolina was their first ranked opponent of the year, and it was a chance for Walker to ply his trade against maybe the second-best running back in the country, the Gamecocks’ [George] Rogers.

Rogers was good that day, with 168 yards. But Walker was better, with 219, 76 of which came on his famous touchdown run down the north stand sideline in the third quarter for a 10-0 Georgia lead. I still think that last Gamecock defender has an angle on him every time I watch the clip, then, poof, he’s gone.

Shaq Wiggins is headed to Knoxville

I mentioned the attrition from the beleaguered 2013 recruiting class earlier in this post and it just so happens that one member of that class will be facing Georgia next season. Defensive back Shaq Wiggins, who transferred from UGA to Louisville, is leaving the Cardinals as a graduate transfer and heading to Knoxville to play for Tennessee.

ICYMI

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