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Curtis Compton / AJC
Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker is considered by most everyone to be a first-round NFL Draft pick.

Georgia football has 10 on NFL Draft boards, Deandre Baker leads mocks

ATHENS, Ga. — The NFL Draft evaluation process is starting to peak with the all-star games completed and the NFL Combine and respective Pro Day workouts fast approaching.

A record 135 underclassmen declared themselves eligible for the draft, including four from Georgia: WR Riley Ridley, WR Mecole Hardman, TE Isaac Nauta and RB Elijah Holyfield.

Georgia All-American cornerback and Thorpe Award winner Deandre Baker, a departing senior, has been the highest-rated of the Bulldogs players to date.

The Bulldogs have 10 players with NFL Draft grades, continuing their trend of producing professional football talent like few other programs.

 

 

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Baker has been rated as high as No. 10 overall by Mel Kiper Jr., and as low as No. 30 by NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah.

Ridley, however, could slip past Baker into the first round if Jeremiah’s projection of Ridley at No. 32 is correct.

Ridley, at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, could be viewed as having more upside depending on what he does at the NFL Combine.

Baker sat out Georgia’s Sugar Bowl game with Texas and also passed on the opportunity to compete at the Senior Bowl last Saturday.

RELATED: Kirby Smart supports Deandre Baker sitting out Sugar Bowl

ESPN analyst Cole Cubelic said Baker’s decision to skip the Senior Bowl to begin working out for the NFL Combine could prove in his best interest.

“If Baker isn’t a combine guy and he’s not going to wow you in the 40 (-yard dash) or vertical, it may behoove him to have started training for those things,” Cubelic said. “The tape will show his coverage skills, so it could be in his best interest to shave a half second off his 40 or a second off his 3-cone drill time.

“Also we may not know everything going on with him from a health perspective — a lot of guys are beat up by the end of the year, so there could be a lot going on behind the scenes.”

Kentucky cornerback Lonnie Johnson had a strong performance in the Senior Bowl and wasn’t shy talking about it.

“I feel like I’m the best corner in the draft. That’s what it is. I can tackle, I can cover, and some guys at my position don’t even want to tackle,” Johnson said. “I stood out. I’m 6-3, I’m 210 pounds, and I’m going to run 4.4 at the combine, so y’all can take it from there.”

It’s hard to imagine Johnson passing Baker or the projected No. 1 cornerback, LSU’s Greedy Williams.

But Ridley could be a different story if he stands out at the NFL Combine.

Here’s a look at where Georgia players in some early-round NFL Mock Drafts:

CB Deandre Baker

First round, No. 10 (Denver) Mel Kiper Mock Draft 1.0

Player ranking No. 10, NJ.com

Player ranking No. 15 Todd McShay Top 32 rankings

Player ranking No. 16, ESPN Player Rankings

First round, No. 16 (Carolina), WalterFootball.com

First round, No. 16 (Carolina), DraftSite.com

First round, No. 17 (Cleveland), NBCsports.com

First round, No. 17 (Cleveland), NJ.com Mock Draft 2.0

First round No. 19 (Tennessee), Bleacher Report

First round, No. 20 (Pittsburgh), USA Today

First round, No. 20 (Pittsburgh), CBSsports.com

First round, No. 29 (Kansas City) Bucky Brooks, NFL.com

First round, No. 29 (Kansas City) San Diego Union Tribune

Player ranking No. 30, Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com

OLB D’Andre Walker

RELATED: D’Andre Walker targets March after surgery

Player ranking No. 33, ESPN Player Rankings

Second round No. 48, (Miami), NBCsports.com

Second round, No. 52 (Pittsburgh), WalterFootball.com

Second round, No. 61 (Kansas City), San Diego Union Tribune

Third round, No. 74 (Buffalo), DraftSite.com

WR Riley Ridley

RELATED: Georgia football WR Riley Ridley declares for NFL Draft

Player ranking No. 32, Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com

Second round, No. 62 (New Orleans), WalterFootball.com

Third round, No. 76 (Washington), USA Today

Third round, No. 93 (N.Y. Jets), DraftSite.com

Player ranking No. 125, ESPN Player Rankings

WR Terry Godwin

RELATED: Georgia fan-favorite wins MVP at East-West Shrine Game

Player ranking No. 99, ESPN Player Rankings

Fourth round, No. 104 (Detroit), WalterFootball.com

Sixth round, No. 180 (Green Bay), DraftSite.com

WR Mecole Hardman

RELATED: Junior speedster Mecole Hardman going pro

Fifth round, No. 124 (Tampa Bay), DraftSite.com

Player ranking No. 135, ESPN Player Rankings

DL Jonathan Ledbetter

RELATED: Jonathan Ledbetter makes plays in Senior Bowl

Player ranking No. 138, ESPN Player Rankings

Sixth round, No. 167 (Buffalo), DraftSite.com

TE Isaac Nauta

RELATED: Isaac Nauta first UGA underclassman to declare in 2019

Fourth round, No. 125 (N.Y. Giants), DraftSite.com

Player ranking No. 186, ESPN Player Rankings

RB Elijah Holyfield

RELATED: Georgia captain Elijah Holyfield declares for draft

Player ranking No. 185, ESPN Player Rankings

 OC Lamont Gaillard

Player ranking No. 225, ESPN Player Rankings

ILB Natrez Patrick

Player ranking No. 278, ESPN Player Rankings