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D'Andre Swift is expected to be a first round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

ESPN labels Georgia football a loser of NFL early entry process

Anytime you lose one of the best running backs in the SEC, both starting offensive tackles and a three-year starter at quarterback to the NFL Draft, you’re going to be branded as a team that did not come out as a winner of the NFL draft’s early entry process. And that is the case for the Georgia Bulldogs.

Georgia saw five players forgo eligibility and declare for the 2020 NFL Draft. All five come from the offensive side of the ball as running back D’Andre Swift, offensive tackles Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson, offensive guard Solomon Kindley and quarterback Jake Fromm all left Georgia early to pursue their NFL careers.

The only team that had more early departures for the 2020 NFL Draft is LSU though Alabama also saw five players depart early. And because of the heavy losses, all on the offensive sides of the ball, ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg labeled Georgia as a loser of the process.

Rittenberg was understanding of why Swift and Thomas would declare, given both are expected to be first-round picks. But the ESPN writer was a little more confused as to why Fromm, Wilson and Kindley went ahead and entered the 2020 NFL Draft.

“Jake Fromm, a three-year starter, could have returned, especially in a year with a strong quarterback class,” Rittenberg wrote. “Isaiah Wilson doesn’t rank among Kiper’s top 10 offensive tackle prospects, and guard Solomon Kindley isn’t ranked.”

As far as replacing the departing players, Zamir White seems like the clear option to step in as Georgia’s lead running back in 2020. He started in Georgia’s Sugar Bowl win over Baylor, where he racked up 92 yards and a touchdown against the Big 12’s top defense.

Related: ESPN tabs Zamir White as Georgia football breakout player for 2020 season

At quarterback, Georgia landed Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman. He threw for 26 touchdowns last season while also rushing for six. Georgia has also made some staff changes, as the Bulldogs named Todd Monken as the offensive coordinator. That title was previously held by James Coley.

In regards to the holes on the offensive line, Justin Shaffer figures to slide in at the left guard spot for Kindley. When the latter missed time during the 2019 season, the rising senior Shaffer stepped in as his replacement. He was recently cleared to play after sustaining a season-ending neck injury.

At right tackle, Jamaree Salyer is slatted to take over for Wilson. Salyer got the start in the Sugar Bowl and played very well at the right tackle spot. While Salyer also has worked at the guard spot, he did spend the entire 2019 season as Wilson’s back-up.

Finding a replacement for Thomas though may prove to be the most difficult. In addition to Thomas being an absolute stud, Georgia doesn’t have a perfect replacement lined up. Cade Mays was thought to be the favorite for the job, but he has since transferred to Tennessee. The Bulldogs do have a commitment from 5-star offensive tackle Broderick Jones, but he has not yet signed with Georgia as Auburn is still pursuing his services.

Another name to watch for as a Thomas replacement could be redshirt freshman Xavier Truss.

Regarding the 2020 NFL Draft, it wasn’t all bad for the Bulldogs. None of the defensive players that could’ve declared early for the 2020 NFL Draft did so, meaning the likes of Richard LeCounte, Monty Rice and Eric Stokes will all be returning to a defense that was one of the nation’s best in 2019.

Related: Richard LeCounte is the face of the Georgia football program for the 2020 season

The 2020 NFL Draft is set to take place in Las Vegas and runs from April 23 through the 25.

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