ATHENS — Some can and will debate where the 2021 Georgia football team ranks among the greatest of all time with its smothering defense and regular-season dominance.
The Bulldogs allowed just 6.9 points per game in the regular season, the fewest over 12 games since 1986 Oklahoma gave up 6.75 per contest.
Coach Kirby Smart and his staff recruited and developed the defensive unit into champions, from players who were once 3-star prospects (Outland Trophy winner Jordan Davis), to 5-star products (Butkus Award winner Nakobe Dean).
The upcoming NFL draft will provide yet another metric some will use to judge the team by assessing its talent.
The 2020 Alabama team had six first-round NFL picks last year, and the 2019 LSU team had a record 14 players selected in the 2021 NFL Draft.
This Georgia team, with 14 players invited to the NFL combine (March 1-6, Indianapolis), could tie or break LSU’s record for most players drafted.
The Bulldogs will most certainly break their own school mark for most players selected in one draft (9), which was set last year.
Georgia might also set a new school mark for most players selected in the first round of one draft, if ESPN analyst Todd McShay proves correct with his most recent projections.
McShay’s first-round NFL projection includes four Bulldogs, which would break the previous mark of three set in the 2018 NFL Draft when Roquan Smith (No. 8 overall), Isaiah Wynn (No. 23) and Sony Michel (No. 31) were first-round picks.
The four UGA players projected in the first round in McShay’s latest mock draft:
No. 15 (Philadelphia), Nakobe Dean
McShay: “He does it all, from using his speed and sideline-to-sideline range to match with running backs in coverage, to blitzing through gaps and pressuring quarterbacks, to stopping the run and wrapping up ball carriers.”
No. 16 (Philadelphia), Travon Walker
McShay: “An NFL team has never taken college teammates with back-to-back picks, but the Eagles’ pass-rush was atrocious, and Walker is incredibly disruptive.”
No. 20 (L.A. Chargers), Jordan Davis
McShay: “Davis’ 340-pound frame demands double-team attention … "
No. 28 (Green Bay), Devonte Wyatt
McShay: “How about Wyatt, a Senior Bowl standout? He has tons of upper-body strength and is always moving his feet.”
The 2022 NFL Draft takes place April 28-30.