Georgia football-Alabama-All SEC
Georgia quarterback JT Daniels speaks to the media during the 2021 SEC Football Kickoff Media Days on July 20, 2021, at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala. (Jimmie Mitchell/SEC)
Jimmie Mitchell

All-SEC teams show key difference between Georgia, Alabama

Georgia and Alabama led the SEC in All-SEC selections. The two schools were picked to win their respective divisions, so you can imagine those teams had a number of talented players.

Georgia had 10 players, while Alabama came in with 16. But perhaps the more concerning number was Alabama placing eight players on the First Team. The Bulldogs had just two, with Jordan Davis and Jake Camarda representing the Bulldogs.

The Crimson Tide had more players at linebacker — Christian Harris, Henry To’oTo’o and Will Anderson — make First Team All-SEC than the team picked to finish second in the SEC.

Related: Full list of 2021 All-SEC team

Alabama’s eight players also come after seeing six players drafted in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. In addition to the three linebackers, Alabama placed wide receiver John Metchie, offensive lineman Evan Neal, defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis and defensive backs Malachi Moore and Josh Jobe on the team.

Georgia had just one player taken in the first round of last year’s NFL draft in cornerback Eric Stokes.

If the Bulldogs are going to catch and surpass Alabama this season, it will need the number of players making First Team All-SEC to at least rival that of Alabama. Perhaps even surpass the Crimson Tide in that area.

The 2019 LSU team that won the national title placed seven players on one of the two end of season All-SEC teams. Last season, Alabama had nine.

So who might be Georgia’s best candidates to get the Bulldogs closer to those numbers?

For starters, the Bulldogs have some obvious candidates who were named Preseason Second Team All-SEC. Quarterback JT Daniels figures to have an excellent shot of moving onto the First Team with a strong season.

A year ago, Daniels threw 10 touchdowns in four starts while leading Georgia to a 4-0 record in those games. If he plays more often as he did against Mississippi State — where he became the first Georgia quarterback since Aaron Murray to throw for more than 400-yards and four touchdowns in a game — it’s easy to see him potentially unseating Ole Miss’s Matt Carrol as the top quarterback in the SEC.

“The preseason rankings are what they are,” Daniels said. “We don’t have any say over them. It’s cool when they say you’re good. It’s cool when they say you suck. It really doesn’t matter either way. You go out and play football.”

Related: JT Daniels shares NIL spotlight with O-Linemen

Another offensive player that could join is offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer. There’s an argument to be made he should’ve been on the first team that was put out last week.

Given his ability to play at both guard or tackle, Salyer will play a massive role in unlocking Georgia’s offensive potential.

Conversely, the other two Bulldogs to make Second Team All-SEC might have a difficult time even replicating their preseason status. Running back Zamir White plays in a very crowded backfield with James Cook, Kenny McIntosh and Kendall Milton.

At wide receiver, George Pickens will spend at least part of the season working his way back from a torn ACL. While Georgia is hopeful to bring him back at some point in the season, expecting him to produce like one of the top wide receivers in the conference might be a bit much.

The other four members of Georgia who were named All-SEC appeared on the third team. Kearis Jackson made the team as a return specialist. It’s also worth mentioning McIntosh as a possible candidate as a kick returner as well.

Defensively, the voting contingent at SEC media days thought highly enough of three Bulldogs to make the Third Team in Travon Walker, Nakobe Dean and Lewis Cine.

Walker is an upside pick, as he’s yet to start a game for the Bulldogs. Dean conversely is someone who has proven production yet still has the potential to play at a First Team All-SEC linebacker.

The linebacker is position is so loaded in the SEC that the likes of Adam Anderson and Nolan Smith couldn’t even make the cut. Anderson in particular seems like someone primed to really wreak havoc this year as he picked up 6.5 sacks last season.