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Georgia football winners and losers from the 2019 NFL Combine
Winner: Mecole Hardman, wide receiver
Perhaps more than anyone, Hardman had the most pressure on him among Georgia players entering the 2019 NFL Combine. Hardman’s success was going to be determined by how well he ran in the 40-yard dash. While the drill isn’t an exact predictor for success, it was going to give Hardman a chance to show off his best skill: Speed.
— Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) March 2, 2019
And boy did Hardman deliver. He ended up running a 4.33 40-yard dash, which was tied for the third-best among all wide receivers. Using the mockdraftable.com database, the only Georgia players since 1999 to run a better 40-yard dash are Champ Bailey, Tim Jennings and Keith Marshall.
Given his speed, kick return skills and growing wide receiver abilities, Hardman figures to solidified his draft status as a second round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. The impressive 40-yard dash seems to have validated Hardman’s decision to forgo his senior season.
Loser: Isaac Nauta, tight end
As impressive as Hardman was at the combine, Nauta was disappointing. No, Nauta was never going to impress like either of Iowa’s talented tight ends. But many expected Nauta to have a better day than he ended up having.
Nauta posted a 4.91 40-yard dash time. That was the third-worst time at this year’s NFL combine for tight ends. The Georgia tight end didn’t do much better in any of the other testing drills, as he ranked in the 7th percentile among tight ends in the vertical jump and in the 12th percentile in the 3-cone drill.
Nauta — who like Hardman left school early — seemed to acknowledge that his workout wasn’t his best. But he also knows he’ll have another chance to impress scouts and teams at Georgia’s Pro Day.
Really puzzled right now, but everything happens for a reason, pro day is going to be a big day
— Isaac Nauta (@inauta18) March 2, 2019
The March 20th date will now be vital to Nauta and his draft stock. He can’t afford to have another performance like he did in Indianapolis. And he knows that. He might still be able to push his draft stock back up into the a day two selection, but he has to perform much better.
Loser: Elijah Holyfield, running back
Much like Nauta, Holyfield left much to be desired with his on-field workout. Holyfield performed well in the bench press, as his 26 reps was good for third among all running backs.
But on Friday, Holyfield posted a 4.78 40-yard dash. It was the second slowest among any running back at this year’s combine. Speed was never Holyfield’s best attribute. He was never going to run away from defenders in the open field. But he still had to post a better number than he did. Holyfield didn’t run in the other agility drills, putting a lot of significance on his pro day performance.
Holyfield and Nauta both faced tough decisions on whether or not to leave school early. After the NFL combine, it is fair to wonder if both players would’ve been better off returning to Georgia for their senior seasons.
Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean did defended Holyfield, as he took to Twitter to defend Holyfield despite the poor workout. Crean is the brother in-law to Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, so Crean probably knows a thing or two about NFL running backs.
Winner: Deandre Baker, cornerback
Baker didn’t blow the combine out of the water. But he didn’t stink up the joint either. Baker posted a 4.52 40-yard dash. That’s slower than Greedy Williams, as the LSU cornerback ran a 4.37 40-yard dash. Because of that difference, Williams is likely to be the first cornerback taken in the NFL draft.
But Baker ran a faster 40-yard dash than both Byron Murphy of Washington and Julian Love of Notre Dame. Both of those cornerbacks figure to be jockeying with Baker to be taken in the first round. And Baker tested slightly better while posting better measurements, as had a larger wingspan and was taller than both.
Mel Kiper Jr. still has Baker ranked as his No. 2 cornerback. The NFL draft expert praised Baker’s on-field work, but added that Baker needs to run better at Georgia’s Pro Day.
Baker came into the combine as a first round cornerback, and he likely leaves the combine as a first round cornerback. Because of that, Baker counts as a winner at this year’s combine.
— Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) March 5, 2019
Winner: Georgia’s Pro Day
We’ve already spoken at length about how Nauta and Holyfield need to have strong pro days. That March 20th date is going to be very important for both those, along with the likes of Riley Ridley, Terry Godwin and a number of other prospects who will look to improve upon their times.
That March 20 date will also be big for D’Andre Walker. Georgia’s talented pass rusher did not work out in Indianapolis this week as he recovers from a sports hernia surgery. He will need to test well, especially in the 3-cone and short shuttle drills, as those best show off agility and get-off ability.
Given the intrigue surrounding a number of players, you can imagine that the likes of Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots and a number of other teams will be flocking to Athens to get a closer look at Georgia’s players.
Best Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
- Florida fans still upset UGA beat out Gators for 4-star QB
- Aaron Murray finally plays, his team finally wins
- What decision did Justin Robinson have to make before he chose Georgia?
- DN90: UGA WR commit Justin Robinson draws comparison with NFL great
- Georgia football podcast: 4-star QB commit Carson Beck apparently already recruiting for UGA
- A huge group of receivers will battle for reps left behind by Mecole Hardman, Riley Ridley
- Georgia’s newest quarterback commit has a striking number of similarities to Jake Fromm
Dawgs on Twitter
— Jeff Sentell (@jeffsentell) March 4, 2019
We need to add to this wall @UGABasketball Character! Toughness! Unselfishness! Those attributes added to Talent, Work Capacity and Committed Development can make Dreams Come True !! pic.twitter.com/kug6NsKO3q
— Tom Crean (@TomCrean) March 4, 2019
— Georgia Basketball (@UGA_WBB) March 4, 2019
— Georgia Baseball (@BaseballUGA) March 4, 2019
Good Dawg of the Day
This is Lilo and Boggins. They are battling for the last snack. Boggins started strong but was no match for Lilo’s sneaky paw chomp. Both 13/10 would buy more snacks pic.twitter.com/OVhVpkI9Qm
— WeRateDogs™ (@dog_rates) March 4, 2019