Georgia football in ESPN Top 100: Who was overlooked, and who will be in next season

Georgia running back Kendall Milton (2) during the Bulldogs’ practice scrimmage session in Athens, Ga., on Sat., Aug. 21, 2021. (Photo by Mackenzie Miles)
Mackenzie Miles

There’s an old saying that you are what the numbers say you are, but that saying certainly doesn’t apply to ESPN’s most recent Top 100 player ratings.

The ratings were derived from using a panel of 20 voters and asking head to head, “Who will be better in 2021, Player A, or Player B?”

To be fair, any formula would be subjective, but the results of this one made for curious results and glaring omissions where Georgia football was concerned.

The UGA players who made this ESPN list:

No. 24 JT Daniels

It might seem low, but not as ridiculously low as the PFF author Anthony Treash has Daniels — No. 23 among just the quarterbacks alone! Daniels is 8th among QBs in these rankings, behind Alabama’s Bryce Young, Ole Miss’ Matt Corral, Liberty’s Malik Willis and Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, among others.

No. 41 Tykee Smith

Obviously, this list was put together before news broke last week that Smith and tight end Darnell Washington reportedly underwent surgery. Still, the suggestion that Smith would have been the second-best player on Georgia’s team is naive. Safety Lewis Cine is the best player in the Bulldogs’ secondary, while cornerback Derion Kendrick will be the most impactful. Smith is very good in an undersized linebacker (albeit, a hard-hitting one) kind of way.

No. 74 George Pickens

Some of the people voting probably didn’t know Pickens suffered a torn ACL in the end of March. For Pickens to make a major impact, he’d need to be back by the end of October (8 months out) — and that’s assuming he came back in top form and established immediate chemistry with the quarterback. Both are highly unlikely. More realistic is to think Pickens could return in mid-November and start to regain form during the College Football Playoffs.

No. 87 Jordan Davis

It’s hard to miss a 6-foot-6, 345-pounder, but that’s pretty much what this voting panel did in ranking Davis behind four other defensive tackles. According to ESPN, Clemson has two defensive tackles better than Davis. Sept. 4 is coming soon.

No. 90 Zamir White

Anytime the narrative starts with, “We might never know how good White might have been … " It can’t be good. White might not be the best back in the Georgia running backs room. But White is among the hardest workers on the team and has improved since returning from his second knee surgery two years ago.

Of course, there will be varying opinions, but Georgia has several other players who could have — or should have — been ranked in the Top 100. Here’s 5 who should not have been overlooked based on what they have already accomplished:

OL — Jamaree Salyer: A future NFL talent at OG, Salyer’s ability to play OT or OC at a high level is rare, as is the athleticism and skillsets he possesses with a 6-foot-4, 325-pound frame.

RB — James Cook: Cook ranked as the most explosive back in the SEC by metrics, even if he does do his best work as a pass catcher and in open-field situations. Cook is sure to make more explosive plays this season.

DT — Devonte Wyatt: The so-called “Pit Bull” of the defensive line, Wyatt has led UGA defensive linemen in tackles the past two seasons and ranked second in quarterback pressures. Grossly underrated, Wyatt could turn heads this season.

LB — Nakobe Dean: There aren’t many linebackers that can play sideline-to-sideline like Dean, and anyone watching closely would have noted he had three-straight double-digit tackle games — despite a nagging shoulder injury that led to offseason surgery for a torn labrum. A healthy Dean is Top 100, no doubt.

OLB — Adam Anderson: The NFL has taken note of “Mr. Anderson,” but perhaps not all college football followers have been acquainted. Anderson, a projected first-round NFL draft pick, will be on everyone’s list by Jan 1.

RELATED: Adam Anderson top-rated Georgia player by ESPN in 2022 NFL Draft class

Here are 10 more Georgia players who could be on the most informed groups’ Top 100 by the end of the season:

DE — Travon Walker

WR — Jermaine Burton

TE — Darnell Washington

RB — Kendall Milton

RB — Kenny McIntosh

DT — Jalen Carter

FS — Lewis Cine

OT — Amarius Mims

OT — Broderick Jones

OLB — Nolan Smith

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