KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — It might be time to stop asking if Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean can be as good as Roquan Smith, and consider the possibility that he might turn out to be even better.
This might also be an appropriate time to consider that Georgia’s defense had better be good, because there are only two players on the offense currently ranked in the Top 10 at their position on Mel Kiper’s NFL Big Board ratings and neither one is healthy enough to play.
First, the good news with Dean, one of the game captains for the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs in their game at Tennessee (3:30 p.m., CBS).
Kiper ranks Dean as the No. 9 overall player in the 2022 NFL Draft on his so-called “Big Board” citing Dean’s leadership and pursuit.
“Dean runs sideline-to-sideline to blow up plays and is a sure tackler once he finds the ball carrier,” Kiper states in his ESPN pay-site article.
Dean ranks as the No. 2 inside linebacker in the nation per Kiper, with teammate Channing Tindall ranked the No. 4 inside linebacker.
Scouting is tough work, but someone may want to get Kiper more film on Quay Walker, yet another Georgia linebacker that appears destined for the NFL and is another of the team’s captains for the game in Knoxville.
Other Georgia defensive players ranked among the Top 10 at their position were:
Jordan Davis — No. 2 at defensive tackle
Lewis Cine — No. 4 at safety
Adam Anderson — No. 4 at outside linebacker
Devonte Wyatt — No. 7 at defensive tackle
Travon Walker — No. 6 at defensive end
Jake Camarda — No. 6 at punter
Offensively, however, the only two Georgia players ranked in the top 10 at their position aren’t expected to play today.
Salyer (foot) is the No. 5 offensive guard, and receiver Georgia Pickens (knee) is ranked No. 10 among receivers.
White and James Cook have dropped out of the top 10 rankings at the running back position.
Receiver Kearis Jackson, who was talking earlier this week about feeling overlooked, is ranked No. 6 among punt returners. This, despite Jackson averaging just 6.1 yards per return, 34th in the nation and sixth among SEC punt returners including former teammate Demetris Robertson.