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Roquan Smith could be part of an historic NFL draft class for Georgia football.

Georgia football could have historic first round in 2018 NFL Draft

Cy Brown

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Draft Dawgs: Potential first-round picks

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about Georgia football’s draft class and for good reason. When the NFL draft rolls around April 26-28, it has the chance to become the most historic in the history of the program. Ten former Dawgs participated in the NFL combine last week. If nine of those players are drafted, it would be the largest draft class in UGA history.

But the strength of Georgia’s draft class goes beyond depth. UGA boasts a handful of the best players in this class and could end up with as many as three players selected in the first round, which would be a record for the program. (Two Bulldogs have been drafted in a single first round seven previous times.)

In a new, post-combine four-round mock draft at NFL.com, draft analyst Chad Reuter is predicting three Bulldogs will come off the board in the first round: Roquan Smith to the Chargers (23rd), Sony Michel to the Steelers (28th) and Isaiah Wynn to the Jaguars (29th). Here’s what Reuter had to say about each.

17. Chargers — Roquan Smith

Undersized ILBs typically fall into the middle of the first round. Smith’s hustle to the ball will help him overcome his lack of bulk, though, giving him a long, successful career.

28. Steelers — Sony Michel

Let’s say the Le’Veon Bell situation goes sideways — Michel has a similar skill set, so this would be a good addition for the Steelers.

29. Jaguars —Isaiah Wynn

Wynn is brought in to ensure 2017 first-round pick, Leonard Fournette, is able to make yards on the ground.

In total, Reuter included six former Bulldogs in his four-round mock draft. Late in the second round, Reuter has Nick Chubb going to the 49ers (59th) and Lorenzo Carter to the Browns (64th). He has Trent Thompson joining Smith on the Chargers in the fourth round (119th). If all six of these players are indeed drafted in the first four rounds, Georgia would need only three of its four other players who attended the combine — Javon Wims, Dominick Sanders, John Atkins, Davin Bellamy — to be taken in the final three rounds to set the program record for players picked in a single draft.

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Just win, baby

Georgia hoops ain’t dead yet, and neither are its hopes of making the NCAA Tournament.

The Bulldogs pulled off an upset of Missouri and future lottery pick Michael Porter Jr. Thursday afternoon at the SEC Tournament in St. Louis. Georgia battled the Tigers and a packed house of Mizzou fans eager to see the returning Porter at the Scottrade Center and held on for a 62-60 victory.

All eyes were on Porter who returned to the court for the first time since November when he underwent surgery for herniated disks. And although he is expected to be a top draft pick if he declares at the end of this season, Porter did not shine in his second-ever collegiate game. Georgia held him to 12 points. In fact, he was outscored Thursday by another freshman: Georgia’s Teshaun Hightower, who had 13 points — 11 in the first half — in 22 minutes. Yante Maten provided a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds.

But Hightower wasn’t the only UGA freshman to show out Thursday. Rayshaun Hammond played 34 minutes, second on the team to Maten, and Nicolas Claxton scored 7 points and added 8 rebounds. The three freshmen also played exceptionally well in the tourney opener against Vanderbilt. After a season of growing pains, it seems these freshman have finally, well, grown. And not a moment too soon. Georgia coach Mark Fox compared their progression to former UGA star Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

“It wasn’t until midway through his sophomore year that he became a terrific player,” Fox said of Caldwell-Pope, according to Seth Emerson of DawgNation. “These guys are talented young guys, and they needed a chance to play and make mistakes and play through mistakes in order to grow.”

So with these youngsters stepping up, what are the chances Georgia can keep this run going all the way to the final? There’s more parity than ever in the SEC. While Georgia probably won’t be favored in any game from here, there isn’t a single opponent in the SEC it isn’t capable of beating. Ask Mizzou coach Cuonzo Martin.

“They have one of the best players in all of college basketball,” Martin said, according to Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald. “They have experience. They’re battle tested, and they’re fighting for something.”

The fight continues Friday against Kentucky. Tip-off is scheduled for 30 minutes after the 1 p.m. ET game between Alabama and Auburn, so roughly 3:30 p.m. ET or so. The game will be broadcast by ESPN.

Odds and ends

Here are some DawgNation posts you might have missed Thursday.

Dawgs on Twitter

Good dog

Keep reaching, little dudes. You’ll get there one day.

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