ATHENS — The 2020 draft process is underway, and NFL teams will have Georgia on their mind.
Coach Kirby Smart will produce a school-record number of NFL picks in one class — surpassing the current mark of eight with a double-digit number next year.
Short-term that places a great sense of urgency for UGA to win the national championship this season with the glut of underclassmen likely to move on.
Long-term, UGA’s NFL draft success keeps the Bulldogs’ recruiting train steamrolling downhill.
The ink has yet to dry on fresh contracts in the wake of the 2019 NFL Draft, but much like recruiting, scouts and personnel managers are constantly looking ahead.
Already, Mel Kiper Jr. has ranked rising juniors Andrew Thomas and Jake Fromm No. 9 and No. 10, respectively, on his big board.
Four Bulldogs’ seniors have already appeared on the Senior Bowl’s radar, per a Tweet from executive director Jim Nagy: Incoming WR Lawrence Cager, safety J.R. Reed, kicker Rodrigo Blankenship and tailback Brian Herrien.
It’s not a stretch to suggest senior receiver Tyler Simmons, linebacker Tae Crowder and senior tight end Charlier Woerner could find themselves with Senior Bowl and NFL combine invites en route to being drafted.
Other senior hopefuls with work to do include defensive linemen Michael Barnett, Tyler Clark, Julian Rochester, Michail Carter and David Marshall.
Looking at other draft-eligible Georgia Bulldogs, there’s more — much more — potential for early entrees:
• RB D’Andre Swift
• WR J.J. Holloman
• WR Demetris Robertson
• CB Eric Stokes
• SS Richard LeCounte
• OG Ben Cleveland
• OG Solomon Kindley
• RT Isaiah Wilson
• LB Monty Rice
Of course, it’s possible some or even many of those players will return for their senior seasons, including Fromm.
No doubt, the UGA players are aware captains Elijah Holyfield and Jonathan Ledbetter surprisingly went undrafted, evidence there are no guarantees.
But Swift and the Georgia offensive linemen have been open about the possibility they could leave after next season.
Smart, more than anyone, is aware of the strong possibility of an avalanche of early entrants to the 2020 NFL Draft.
It was Smart who pointed out the trend of players enrolling early, and consequently, leaving early.
There are several factors that will determine whether a player turns pro early.
Those factors range from projected draft stock, to injuries, to family financial considerations and even their standing on UGA’s ever-improving depth chart.
But it doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out Georgia’s 2020 NFL Draft class will be bountiful, as it will in all likelihood produce double-digit draft picks.
Now it’s just a matter of what type of 2019 season will those future NFL Bulldogs produce, and what legacy they will leave behind.
DawgNation 2019 NFL Draft coverage