The most important NFL draft decisions remaining for 2021 Georgia football team
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What the remaining 2021 NFL Draft decisions mean for Georgia football
JT Daniels: This one is the most obvious. Should Daniels return, he’ll look to continue to lead Georgia’s offense after doing so in the final four games of the season.
Daniels made a curious Instagram post on Monday, hinting but not confirming that he would be back for the 2021 season.
An extra year could really help Daniels improve on his draft stock, especially if he improves on some of the little things going into the 2021 season. With Daniels as QB1, Georgia averaged 37 points and 486 yards per game. He threw for 1,231 yards, 10 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions.
Another year at Georgia would also be another year that Daniels is removed from the knee injury and surgeries he had while at USC.
Should Daniels declare for the draft, it puts Georgia in a bind at quarterback. The Bulldogs bring in 5-star quarterback Brock Vandagriff and will see Stetson Bennett and Carson Beck return. We saw though what Bennett could do as a starter and that would be putting a lot on either Beck or Vandagriff.
No player would have a greater impact on Georgia’s College Football Playoff chances next season than Daniels. Landing him would put a lot of wind in the sails of the Georgia program this offseason.
Jordan Davis: Consider Davis the Daniels of the defense. Watch the Cincinnati or Missouri games and you can see the impact the 6-foot-6, 330-pound defensive tackle brings.
Against the Bearcats, he picked up his first sack of the season and blocked a field goal. The Bulldogs once again had the nation’s No. 1 rush defense in the country, with Davis at the center of it.
— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) January 5, 2021
Davis isn’t the pass rusher that top NFL teams covet along the defensive line but he’s such a force in the run game, he’s got the potential to be a difference-maker there.
If Davis does go to the next level, Georgia did see what life is like without him this season as he missed three games with an elbow injury. Zion Logue got some of those snaps and held his own.
Along the rest of the defensive line, Jalen Carter looks like someone poised for a bigger role, albeit not the same one that Davis occupies. Travon Walker seems poised to take on Malik Herring’s role for Georgia. There’s also the possibility that Devonte Wyatt or Julian Rochester return next season.
Without Davis next season, Georgia very well could have a strong defense. If Davis does return for his senior season though, Georgia’s run defense could be the best in the nation once again. His presence should greatly help a secondary that will need to be re-tooled.
Tyson Campbell: Coming into the 2020 season, the secondary was seen as a clear strength for Georgia. That will not be the case going into next season.
Georgia will already lose Eric Stokes, DJ Daniel, Richard LeCounte and Mark Webb. It could also lose Campbell if he decides to jump to the NFL.
Georgia did have Campbell in the Peach Bowl win and the junior cornerback did have a key pass break-up. Campbell didn’t have the greatest of junior seasons but he posses the length and speed NFL teams covet.
With Campbell in the 2021 secondary, Kirby Smart can rest a little easier. Georgia does bring back both safeties in Lewis Cine and Chris Smith. Tyrique Stevenson will be an interesting piece as he can play at the star position or possibly at cornerback as he did for Georgia in the Peach Bowl.
If Campbell does go pro, the Bulldogs will at best be putting multiple unknowns into the starting secondary. Latavious Brinni played at the star position in the Peach Bowl and improved over the course of the game.
Four other names to know from the 2020 team include Ameer Speed, Daran Branch, Jalen Kimber and Kelee Ringo.
Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning spoke highly of Ringo, even though the freshman cornerback didn’t see a snap this season.
“I’m really excited,” Lanning said. “Sometimes you worry about a guy that has an injury how mentally engaged are they going to be able to be throughout the season. It’s tough when you know you’re not going to play a game. I’ve been impressed with Kelee’s attention to detail, really picking up some schematic pieces of our defense.”
Georgia also brought in two 2021 signees who will line up at corner in Nyland Green and Kamari Lassiter, with Green already on campus.
The Georgia secondary is obviously better with Campbell next season. The problem is, Campbell is likely to make some NFL team’s secondary better and that might be sooner than later.
Cook and White had their best seasons to date in 2020. The latter led the team in rushing and found the endzone 11 times while the former combined for over 500 yards of rushing and receiving and five touchdowns in eight games.
Now they each have a decision to make. White was a 5-star prospect coming out of high school and has battled multiple knee injuries that delayed the start of his career. It’s easy to look at someone like Najee Harris and see how much he helped his stock by returning his senior season. But the shelf life of an NFL running back is short and White might want to strike while the iron is hot.
Cook meanwhile is having to decide his future shortly after the sudden passing of his father. Cook’s older brother Dalvin has already been through the NFL draft process and will undoubtedly be a resource to James.
For Georgia, it isn’t far-fetched to compare the Cook and White situation to that of what Nick Chubb and Sony Michel did. The two running backs, who both signed as members of the 2014 class, could’ve gone pro after the 2016 season. Yet they returned, led Georgia to a national title appearance and both turned into top-35 picks in the 2018 NFL Draft.
If either or both Cook and White go pro, Georgia still has talent. Kendall Milton flashed when healthy as a freshman and Kenny McIntosh should off some impressive abilities as a pass-catcher on the final drive of the Peach Bowl.
Under Smart, Georgia has always had five scholarship running backs. Given White was the only running back to register a carry in every game this season, you can see why that is the case. If both Cook and White head to the NFL, Georgia will have just four scholarship running backs next season.
So the talent is still there but depth becomes tricky if White and Cook both make the leap.
Jamaree Salyer: Salyer’s decision takes on added importance following Trey Hill’s NFL leap.
Salyer started nine games at left tackle and a tenth at left guard. The junior played well at left tackle but his NFL future likely sits at guard.
Georgia has already seen its starting right guard and center from the 2020 offensive line depart for the NFL. The Bulldogs didn’t have either Hill or Ben Cleveland against Cincinnati and the results weren’t great. Georgia ran for only 45 yards and Daniels was sacked three times.
With Salyer back, Georgia brings gets a player who impressed in his first significant playing time. He stands to improve whether that be at either left tackle or his more natural left guard position.
The Bulldogs have a number of talented names to turn to in replacing Hill and Cleveland. But having to replace Salyer as well puts an added strain on the position group.
Other names to know: Devonte Wyatt, Julian Rochester, Justin Shaffer, Demetris Robertson
Already announced: Azeez Ojulari, Trey Hill, Eric Stokes, Ben Cleveland, Monty Rice, DJ Daniel, Tre’ McKitty, Nate McBride
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
- The latest Georgia football roster movement regarding NFL draft, transfer portal and returnees
- ‘Unbelievable upside’: What to make of late-season surge for tight end Darnell Washington
- Georgia football winners and losers following Peach Bowl victory
- Travis Hunter: State’s No. 1 junior is electric and still very firmly committed to FSU
- Georgia football podcast: UGA finishes 2020 by laying foundation for 2021 success
- Stock report: Georgia rising stars trigger buy in after stirring Peach Bowl victory
- Georgia linebacker Nate McBride thanks Dawgnation fans for ‘special ride’
- Georgia football winners and losers following Peach Bowl victory
Dawgs on Twitter
— CincoCinco‼️ (@hilldeontrey) January 5, 2021
A special thanks to Ron Courson and his incredible staff who medically performed at an elite level all season!!
— Coach Kirby Smart (@KirbySmartUGA) January 1, 2021
Also my guy graduated in 3 years….. beast on and off field 💪🏿💪🏿 https://t.co/Rb67keFXDe
— Jonas Jennings (@JonasJennings) January 5, 2021
Grateful for you big bro https://t.co/Sr7f2o98Vb
— Sedrick Van Pran-Granger (@SedrickVanPran) January 5, 2021
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This is Ace. He attempted stairs today. Did very well but still feels like there’s room for improvement. 13/10 (IG: ace__adventures) pic.twitter.com/EJiqociv7d
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