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Five or more former Georgia Bulldogs could be selected in the first three rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Georgia football: 5 Bulldogs projected in first 3 rounds of NFL draft

Cy Brown

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5 Dawgs could go early in NFL draft

Isaiah McKenzie was the lone Georgia Bulldogs player selected in the 2017 NFL Draft, and he stayed on the board until the fifth round, going to the Denver Broncos with the 172nd pick. But whereas UGA’s 2017 draft class was one of the weakest in program history, the 2018 class figures to be one of the strongest. According to one mock draft, five or more Bulldogs could be drafted in the time it took McKenzie to be picked up last year.

In the latest mock draft from Chad Reuter of NFL.com, five formers Dawgs are predicted to be selected in the first three round of the draft. Roquan Smith is slated for a first-round selection, Sony Michel and Isaiah Wynn are penciled in as second-round pickss while Lorenzo Carter and Nick Chubb are projected third-round draftees.

UGA in Chad Reuter’s NFL mock draft
NAME ROUND PICK TEAM
Roquan Smith 1 9 Raiders
Sony Michel 2 38 Buccaneers
Isaiah Wynn 2 58 Falcons
Lorenzo Carter 3 76 Packers
Nick Chubb 3 83 Ravens

Of course, these are not the only Bulldogs who will be drafted come late April. Ten former Dawgs have been invited to the NFL combine in Indianapolis, where they’ll work out for scouts later this month. While an invitation to the combine doesn’t guarantee a player will be drafted — 70 more players are invited than there are picks in the draft — it does give us a good indication of who has a chance. In addition to the five listed above, John Atkins, Davin Bellamy, Trenton Thompson, Dominick Sanders and Javon Wims have been invited to work out in Indy.

If five Bulldogs are taken in the first three rounds come April, it will be the first time the program has accomplished that feat since 2009, when Matthew Stafford (No. 1), Knowshon Moreno (12), Mohamed Massaquoi (50), Asher Allen (86) and Corey Irvin (93) all were selected within the first 100 picks. Five Bulldogs also went in the early rounds of both the 2005 and 2003 drafts.

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Mind the gap

Moving from the Dawgs who just left the program to those who just entered it, Georgia ended National Signing Day with the second-best class of all-time. Between Kirby Smart’s success on the recruiting trail and coaching turnover at two of its biggest division rivals, there’s about to be a major talent gap in the SEC East. From Bud Elliott of SB Nation:

Florida signed the No. 14 class, with 12 4-star players, Tennessee signed the No. 20 class, with eight 4-stars players.

And I won’t say that the honeymoon period is over in Gainesville or Knoxville, but a heavy dose of patience is going to be needed because the talent gap between Georgia and its two biggest division rivals is as big as it has been in 40 years.

  • Georgia has signed more 4- and 5-star recruits in the last two years (42) than Florida and Tennessee combined (36).
  • Georgia has signed more 4- and 5-star recruits in the last two classes (42) than Florida (37) or Tennessee (39) on their own has in the last four years.
  • Georgia’s roster is several years of recruiting ahead of the Gators and Vols.

To be the best …

It’s not only SEC East rivals who should be worried about what Smart’s building. Nick Saban and the Alabama juggernaut are in Georgia’s crosshairs, too.

The Tide signed the No. 7 class in college football, which wouldn’t be anything to scoff about at 99 percent of the programs in America. But Alabama is not 99 percent of the programs in America. Before Georgia claimed the top class in 2018, Alabama had claimed that honor for seven consecutive years. And that’s not only bad news for Saban because there’s a good chance he’ll face Georgia in Atlanta every year for the foreseeable future — but also because some of the top Peach State prospects who once crossed state lines to go to Tuscaloosa are starting to stay home. From Creg Stephenson of AL.com:

The Bulldogs signed the country’s No. 1 class, with seven 5-star prospects, 14 4-stars and seven of the country’s Top 23 players.  Smart’s success at locking down his state has especially hurt Auburn, which has long had a history of pilfering top players from the state of Georgia (think Carl Lawson, Phillip Lutzenkirchen and Carlos Rogers, to name three). But he also beat Alabama head-to-head on at least two Top 50 players this year: Georgia linebacker Quay Walker and Florida cornerback Tyson Campbell.

How does Otis Reese fit into Georgia’s secondary?

Smart surprised a lot of fans when he announced in his Signing Day news conference that new signee Otis Reese will start his career at safety and not linebacker as most assumed he would. Considering Smart’s unending quest to make the secondary the best in college football and the number of talented linebackers signed in this class, the decision makes sense. So what are his chances of breaking into a secondary that is searching for depth? Seth Emerson of DawgNation figures he could slot in as the third safety behind J.R. Reed and Richard LeCounte.

But there also doesn’t appear to be a definite third player now: senior Jarvis Wilson will be fighting for a spot on the two-deep with redshirt freshmen William Poole, Latavious Brini and Tray Bishop. So there’s an opening for someone to push into the conversation there, and Reese could do that. There’s also the chance that Reed is employed at a different spot, such as star, which he played last year. If that happens, that will leave one safety spot wide open. (You can check out my pre-signing day analysis of the Georgia secondary, which came before Tyson Campbell and Reese signed.)

The state of Georgia basketball

Georgia hoops lost once again during the weekend, falling to No. 8 Auburn 78-61 at Stegeman Coliseum. Mark Fox and the Dawgs have just two wins in their last 10 games and are flirting dangerously close to a .500 record. What was once a promising season buoyed by NCAA Tournament ambitions that were still alive as little as a month ago has turned into an unmitigated disaster. Things are bad in Athens, folks, and there are no signs of things getting better. This begs the obvious question: Should Fox stay or go?

As usual, Emerson provided a level-headed take on the matter in a recent post for DawgNation. It basically all comes down to the old Mark Richt dilemma: When does pretty good turn into not good enough?

This is Fox’s ninth year as Georgia’s coach, in which the team has made two NCAA Tournament appearances, going out in the first round each time. The Bulldogs have also yet to reach an SEC Championship Game. But there has been success. Georgia has four 20-win (or more) seasons under Fox, including three straight prior to last season, when the Bulldogs won 19 games. That’s a level of sustained success that UGA has rarely had in basketball. He graduates all his players. He recruits and develops good citizens. He’s a good ambassador for the school.

But the concern of many fans is the program has plateaued under Fox. This team may be the most talented one that Fox has had — it managed to begin the season 9-2 with wins over several teams that should make it to the NCAA Tournament — but then SEC play arrived, and the Bulldogs have been swallowed up.

UGA softball off to 4-1 start

The opening weekend of the Georgia softball season is in the books, and the Bulldogs came away from it with a 4-1 record, outscoring opponents 51-12 over five games. Their only loss at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz., came to No. 3 Oregon last Thursday.

The Bulldogs season resumes this weekend with the first homestand of the year. Georgia will play Winthrop once, Samford twice and Evansville twice between Friday and Sunday at the Red & Black Showcase in Athens.

Dawgs on Twitter

Good dog

I’ve been waiting days to bring y’all this corgi riding a pony. So, without further ado, I present … corgi riding a pony.

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