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I was as excited as anyone to watch the draft last week, and as disappointed as anyone that more of our standout guys didn’t get taken. Sure, I’m biased to an extent, but how could someone like Sanders (a record-breaking, All-Conference, four-year starter) not get picked up by a single team? Have you heard any rumblings as to whether it may be his choice, or do the NFL gurus know something we don’t? He has to be the most baffling undrafted free agent in years.
Thanks for everything you guys do!
— Jarad Lewellen, Valdosta
I share your bemusement about Dominick Sanders not landing on an NFL team. To succinctly sum it up, I’ll just say you never can be sure what the NFL is looking for and what they see and don’t see in certain prospects.
But Sanders not even getting a free-agent invitation — as far as we know — is a real puzzlement for a lot of folks. Even the esteemed Claude Felton, who has overseen Georgia sports communication office since 1979, asked reporters gathered in his office this week for the Kirby Smart contract announcement, “Has anybody heard whether Dominick ever got picked up?” And this is the guy who usually knows everything first.
Now I haven’t had the opportunity to talk to Sanders, someone whom I’ve come to respect a great deal through dealing with him the last four years. So we have to start with, I know nothing for sure. But there are a lot of things to consider. First of all, he was listed by Georgia at 6-foot, 193 pounds. The NFL measured him at 5-11. That’s small for a free safety in college, much less the NFL. So it’s probably no shock that he didn’t hear his named called during the draft.
But, almost anyone of Sanders’ ilk at least gets a free-agent tryout in the NFL. As you point out, this is, after all, a player who left school tied for the UGA record for career interceptions (16) and the owner of the school record for interception return yardage. He started all 15 games for the SEC champs as a senior, posting 37 stops — 3.5 of them for loss — a team-high 4 interceptions and 5 pass breakups. And here’s the most astounding stat: Sanders played in every single game Georgia played in his career — 53 — and started all but one. That one start he missed was because he had to sit out the first half of a game because of a targeting penalty.
Now sometimes NFL teams simply don’t announce their free-agent signings until they absolutely have to. I’d really be surprised if Sanders doesn’t show up somewhere eventually. But there’s another possibility here.
Football is a hard, tough sport and sometimes players simply don’t want to play it anymore. While Sanders played in every game in his career, he was more than a little injured in a lot of those and played anyway. Maybe he thinks his body has taken enough abuse at 22 years old. Sanders wasn’t listed among UGA’s 13 football players walking for graduation Friday. Hopefully, he’s close to picking up his history degree.
Right now, we just can’t be sure of much. But I look forward to catching up with “Dom,” as all the Bulldogs call him, and letting him set the record straight. In the meantime, we’ll keep our eyes and ears open for what’s next for this Bulldogs favorite, who certainly did his school proud for four years.
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