The perfect home for every Georgia football 2020 NFL Draft prospect
More often than not, a player’s NFL success is determined by the situation they get drafted into, rather than how much actual talent they had. It’s clear now Russell Wilson should’ve been drafted much higher than he was in the 2012 NFL Draft. But had he not gone to Seattle, and thus had an easier chance of starting right away, he’s probably not the quarterback we know today.
There are countless examples of players going to situations where things unfortunately just don’t work out. Injuries, depth chart or instability on the coaching staff or front office can often derail a career before it ever really gets started.
That’s why for some of the many Georgia football players who are set to hear their name called next week, it’s crucial that they hopefully end up going to a place that will best allow each prospect to succeed on their own timeline. Jake Fromm going to the Cleveland Browns or D’Andre Swift being taken by the Carolina Panthers probably wouldn’t be maximizing their careers.
But there are a handful of teams where that is the case. Where a perfect fit between what a player can bring and meshes with what a team needs. So we figure we’d take a crack at identifying where those perfect fits might be.
Andrew Thomas: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the No. 14 overall pick
It is a deep class at the offensive tackle spot, meaning teams at the top of the draft will have a number of options to choose from. What allows Thomas to standout is that he’s likely the most NFL ready tackle prospect in this year’s class. A team that is looking to win now is probably going to value Thomas more than say Louisville’s Mekhi Becton.
And which NFL team drafting in the top half of the first round just moved to the front of the win-now chain? The one that signed 42-year old Tom “Tompa” Brady to be its starting quarterback.
It helps Thomas that the Buccaneers have a need on the offensive line, though it is more pressing at the right tackle spot for the 2020 season. Tampa Bay is likely looking for a player who can come in and play the right tackle spot at a fairly high level in his first year in the league.
Thomas does have experience doing just that, though it’s just in the SEC instead of the NFL. As a freshman in 2017, Thomas started every game for Georgia at the right tackle position, a true rarity at the SEC level. The Bulldogs went on to win the SEC that year and play for a national title.
That sounds like pretty great credentials for what Tampa Bay is possibly looking for.
D’Andre Swift: The Kansas City Chiefs with the No. 32 overall pick
As far as what Swift had to play through with the Georgia offense in the 2019 season, playing for the Chiefs in 2020 would be the polar opposite.
He’d go from running into eight-man defensive fronts to getting to play with Patrick Mahomes and the explosive Kansas City offense. He’d also get to display his pass-catching chops, something he did quite well in his time at Georgia.
Kansas City did employ a backfield by committee in 2019 and will likely do so again in 2020 even with Swift. But that does allow the Chiefs to possibly manage Swift’s workload and mitigate any possible injury concerns.
There’s still some debate as to whether Swift will go in the first round or not this year, though it’s largely based on the needs of the teams picking at the end of the first round more than Swift’s talent level. If Kansas City pulls the trigger and drafts Swift, it would be a win for both parties.
Isaiah Wilson: The Los Angeles Rams with the No. 57 overall pick
There’s been some late chatter that Wilson could end up going in the first round of the draft, due largely to his strong measurables and potential. While obviously that would benefit him from a financial standpoint, there might be a better spot for his long-term development later on in the draft
That’s why we have Wilson slotted to the Rams with the No. 57 overall pick in the second round. It accomplishes things for both parties both in the short and long term.
The Rams, who played for a Super Bowl not all that long ago, will be looking for immediate help on the offensive line as they try to make the necessary tweaks to get back to the playoffs. They don’t have a first-round pick but with one of their two second-round picks they can bring in a guy who has first-round potential.
Los Angeles also has an aging left tackle in Andrew Whitworth. The Rams are going to have to re-shuffle the line around moving forward, and Wilson would likely fill either Whitworth’s spot at left tackle or at right tackle should the Los Angeles move Rob Havenstein to the left side. There has also been some talk of Wilson possibly being a guard at the next level as well, which is where he could start his career.
This situation would allow Wilson to both play for a contending team but also develop over time.
Jake Fromm: The Indianapolis Colts with the No. 75 overall pick
When he declared for the 2020 NFL Draft, Fromm probably didn’t think he’d end up sliding this far. But a spotty performance at the combine coupled with the limitations of in-person meetings and a canceled pro day hurt Fromm’s stock more than most.
But there are a couple of spots that Fromm, even if he’s not drafted as high as he would like, can still succeed in. The Colts would be an ideal spot for Fromm, given their starting quarterback is a 38-year old Phillip Rivers, who is on a one-year deal.
Fromm could come in, back-up Rivers in year-one and learn from offensive orientated head coach Frank Reich. Should Rivers decide to retire at the end of the 2020 season, Fromm would likely be a real option to be a starter for the 2021 season, as Jacoby Brissett will also be a free agent following the 2020 season.
Another interesting spot for Fromm could be the Tennessee Titans at either pick No. 61 or No. 93 given Ryan Tannehill’s history. The Colts play in-doors, while the Titans play in normally good weather in Nashville, Tenn.
Fromm probably won’t hear his name called on the first night of the NFL draft. But that doesn’t mean he can’t go on to do great things in his NFL career. He only has to look at Russell Wilson, who the Seahawks ironically took with the No. 75 overall pick to see that.
J.R. Reed: The New England Patriots with the No. 172 overall pick
A smart, defensive-minded team is going to see Reed as a useful player, even if he’s never going to wow you athletically. If Reed had attended Rutgers, he’d probably be the perfect Patriots draft pick.
New England has a need at safety as both Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung are both on the wrong side of 30. Due to other needs though at linebacker and wide receiver/tight end, the defensive backfield will likely be addressed later in the draft. That’s fine for a player like Reed.
If Reed were to enter New England at this spot, he’d be going in with fairly low expectations. That’s fine for Reed, who did just that at Georgia before becoming a three-year starter and captain for the Bulldogs. He could play special teams early on for New England, before possibly sliding into a starting spot down the line.
Bill Belichick does have a recent track record of drafting former Bulldogs, as he’s used draft picks on the likes of Malcolm Mitchell, Sony Michel and Isaiah Wynn in recent years. Now he can add a player from the defensive side of the ball. And you can bet Reed will be able to handle the coaching adjustments that come from Belichick given all he did playing under Kirby Smart.
Another good landing spot for Reed could be the Philadelphia Eagles as well, given their secondary always seems to be a need.
Solomon Kindley: The Tennessee Titans with the No. 174 overall pick
Kindley won’t fit every team’s needs on the offensive line. He’s best suited to play in a run-first, power-rushing attack. No team exemplified that better than the Titans did in 2019, as they used Derrick Henry as a battering ram to get to the AFC Championship game.
Offensive line is a need for the Titans, though more in a pass-blocking way. But adding a player like Kindley allows the Titans to further play to their strengths.
Another possible landing spot for Kindley would be a team like the Ravens, which saw legendary guard Marshall Yanda retire this season. The Ravens were the NFL’s top rushing team in the league a season ago, and Kindley would help open up holes for Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson to continue to thrive.
Rodrigo Blankenship: The New England Patriots with the No. 212 overall pick
Prior to Stephen Gostkowski getting injured during the 2019 season, the Patriots had employed just two starting kickers since 1996. Now that Gostkowski is a free agent once again, New England needs to find another kicker.
This seems like a good place for Blankenship to land after a stellar year that saw the Georgia legend win the Lou Groza award. He has a history of making big kicks and was one of the nation’s best when it comes to touchback percentage.
As mentioned above with Reed, Belichick has liked what he’s seen out of Georgia players in recent years. Blankenship could continue that line while also getting a great opportunity to be a day-one starter in the NFL.
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