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Georgia senior EDGE Nolan Smith barks out encouragement during practice on Wednesday, December 28, 2022 at Mercedes Benz-Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Georgia football winners and losers following 2023 NFL Combine

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Georgia football winners and losers following 2023 NFL Combine

Winner: Former 5-star prospects

Nolan Smith ran the fastest 40-yard dash of any front-seven defender. Broderick Jones did the same for the offensive linemen. Kelee Ringo’s 4.36 40-yard dash was the second-fastest of any Georgia player since Kirby Smart became the program’s head coach. And Darnell Washington may have put on a better show than all of them.

Each of those players was a 5-star prospect during the recruiting process and showed why that was the case. They were elite athletes coming out of high school and showcased that athleticism once again at the 2023 NFL Combine.

“I think it helps me out a lot,” Jones said of his athleticism. “Just being able to have these sweet feet. I think it will help me at the next level along with all my other attributes. Started in high school playing all these other sports, basketball helped me a lot. Just staying in sports, that’s really all it was.”

Related: Full 2023 NFL Combine testing results for Georgia football players

It should come as no surprise that each of those players could potentially hear their names in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Jones was the only lock of the four to be taken prior to the NFL combine.

Smith and Washington answered a ton of questions and very likely moved firmly into first-round position. Ringo potentially did as well when you factor in his performance in the drills portion of the event.

Georgia could very well have five first-round draft picks once again, as it did so in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Add that all to the car accident that saw Georgia offensive lineman Devin Willock and recruiting staffer Chandler LeCroy both die on Jan. 15. LeCroy had a blood alcohol concentration of .197 and was going over 104 miles per hour shortly before she made contact with a telephone pole.

As isolated incidents, maybe you can say all these off are just young people making mistakes, tragically so in LeCroy’s case. But at a certain point as all of these pile up, it becomes harder to view it as that.

Questions will continue to linger around the direction of the Georgia football program because of the events that have happened this offseason. Georgia players spoke to that at the combine and you can imagine they and Smart will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Winner: Stetson Bennett’s arm

There was some question as to whether Bennett would be drafted given his size and the fact that he was arrested earlier this offseason for public intoxication charges in January, as opposed to being at the Senior Bowl.

“It was a mistake that, you know, everybody’s aware of,” Bennett said. “I understand why that can’t happen. It was, I’ve talked to coaches about it, talked to GMs, apologized to my family. That’s who I feel worst about. It felt like I let them down. No matter where I go now, and even without all this, I’ve got an obligation. I’m the fourth. Can’t do that if your last name is Bennett.”

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