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Curtis Compton / AJC
Athlon Magazine and others might not know how good Eric Stokes and the Georgia secondary is right now, but they will when the Bulldogs play in the magazine's back yard against Vanderbilt in the opening game.

Georgia football position groups SEC ranking with Athlon, too high or too low

ATHENS — It has been said that perception can overtake reality, and while in some instances that’s true, it doesn’t apply to SEC football.

So while it’s always a fun to pick up the preseason magazines, people do so knowing the season will bear out where teams really stand, and how good players and position groups really are.

That said, it’s worth reviewing how Nashville-based Athlon Magazine editors Steven Lassan and Mitch Light view Georgia, from their preseason rank, to how they think the Bulldogs’ position groups stack up.

Georgia is the magazine’s preseason No. 3 team, and Athlon is predicting the Bulldogs run the table in the regular season before losing to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.

That seems to be the most common narrative across the country: Until the Bulldogs finish the job and beat the Crimson Tide, people won’t be convinced.

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Never mind that Georgia has led or been tied with the Tide 118 minutes and 54 seconds of 120 minutes and 281 of 290 plays of the past two meetings in the CFP title game and SEC title game.

Here’s where Athlon has the Georgia position groups ranked among the top five, and a quick take on whether it’s too high, or too low:

Running backs

1. Alabama; 2. Georgia; 3. Florida; 4. Vanderbilt; 5. Auburn

About right. If the UGA backfield stays healthy — QB Jake Fromm and D’Andre Swift — the Bulldogs will beat Alabama in the SEC Championship Game and can claim the best RB unit.

Wide receivers

1. Alabama; 2. Florida; 3. Texas A&M; 4. LSU; 5. Missouri

Too low. The rankings go seven deep, and Georgia is among those seven. It’s understandable, but considering how transfers Lawrence Cager and Demetris Robertson project, UGA should be top 5.

Offensive line

1. Georgia; 2. Alabama; 3. Missouri; 4. Auburn; 5. LSU.

Spot on. Georgia has six offensive linemen returning with starting experience, including three former FWAA Freshman All-Americans. Four of the five projected starters are likely top 100 NFL Draft picks in 2020.

Defensive line

1. Auburn, 2. Alabama; 3. Florida; 4. Texas A&M; 5. LSU; 6. Georgia

About right. Sophomore Jordan Davis ranks is a rising star, but this is UGA’s weakest group, and that’s alarming considering there are five seniors in the rotation.

Linebackers

1. Alabama; 2. Georgia; 3. LSU; 4. Mississippi State; 5. Florida

Too high. Tae Crowder leads unsettled group. Can Monty Rice stay healthy? Sort out: Azeez Ojulari, Nolan Smith, Brenton Cox, Jermaine Johnson, Adam Anderson, Walter Grant, Nakobe Dean, Channing Tindall, Robert Beal Jr., Quay Walker and Nate McBride.

Defensive backs

1. LSU, 2. Florida, 3. Alabama, 4. Georgia, 5. Auburn.

Too low. Richard LeCounte and J.R. Reed are the best safety duo in the league, and Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell rank among the league’s best cornerbacks. There’s quality depth, as well, with Otis Reese, Divaad Wilson, and Tyrique McGhee pushing, and newcomers DJ Daniel and Tyrique Stevenson impressing.