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Kirby Smart will have to replace a number of key players from the 2018 team.

ESPN calls Georgia a loser of NFL draft early entry process

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ESPN, Sports Illustrated label Georgia football a loser of 2019 NFL Draft process

With the early entry decision date for the 2019 NFL Draft passing on Monday, a number of national media outlets have taken a look at what programs came away as winners and which schools have some serious work to do in terms of replacing departing stars.

And both ESPN and Sports Illustrated agree: the early-entry process did not do Georgia any favors. ESPN labeled Georgia as a loser in the process while Sports Illustrated called them a slider.

Wide receiver Riley Ridley and Mecole Hardman, running back Elijah Holyfield and tight end Isaac Nauta all made the decision to forgo their final year of eligibility and declare for the 2019 NFL Draft.

“The Bulldogs had four offensive skill players declare as underclassmen, including their top three pass-catchers, wideouts Riley Ridley and Mecole Hardman and tight end Isaac Nauta,” ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg wrote. “None is rated among Kiper’s top prospects at their respective positions. Would they have left if Georgia passed the ball more? We’ll never know.”

Georgia did have two key players decide to return to school for their senior seasons in kicker Rodrigo Blankenship and safety J.R. Reed.

Among SEC teams, Alabama lost seven players to the NFL draft, the most by any school in the country, while Florida lost five players to the NFL draft, tied with Ohio State and Penn State for the second highest number of players to leave school early for the NFL draft. Ole Miss and Texas A&M also had four players leave early for the draft.

Among Georgia’s draft eligible players, Deandre Baker is the only one who is consistently pegged to go in the first round of the NFL draft. Last year, Georgia had three players taken in the first round. The 2019 NFL Draft is set for April 26-28, and will be held in Nashville, Tenn.

With Georgia losing its top three pass catchers from last season, Jeremiah Holloman will likely take on a bigger role in the passing offense. With Holyfield also heading to the draft, look for D’Andre Swift and Brian Herrien to see more carries in the 2019 season.

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