ATHENS — Alabama is the prohibitive favorite to win the SEC over Georgia, and a look at Mel Kiper Jr.’s 2021 NFL big board explains why.
Five of the Alabama players are in the Top 5 at positions and ranked in the Top 25 overall, giving the Tide 14 mentions in Kiper’s article.
Georgia doesn’t have any players in Kiper’s Top 25 and only two in the top five at their positions: Senior quarterback Jamie Newman (No. 4 quarterback) and senior linebacker Monty Rice (No. 5 inside linebacker).
That should challenge the Bulldogs’ program, from Kirby Smart on down.
The implication is that talent has not come to fruition, when one considers UGA has not had a recruiting class rank outside the Top 3 the past four years.
Smart indicated after a dominant 26-14 win in the Sugar Bowl that his players might need a wake-up call of sorts.
“The future’s only bright if those guys continue to work,” Smart said, “because there’s a disease that creeps in at Georgia where kids believe they are better than they are and they read their own press clippings.”
Rice was part of a 2017 UGA class that ranked No. 3 in the nation, a 4-star recruit who ranked the 334th in the nation.
Newman, a graduate transfer from Wake Forest, was part of a 2016 Demon Deacons class that ranked 57th in the nation. Newman was a 3-star prospect (649th)
To be fair to Georgia, four of the top-ranked members from the 2017 UGA signing class have already moved on to the NFL and been drafted.
But Alabama has had just as much attrition, and the Tide looks poised to send even more players into the league next year.
The four UGA players picked in the 2020 NFL Draft: Isaiah Wilson (5-star, 16th), D’Andre Swift (5-star, 33rd), Jake Fromm (4-star, 44th) and Andrew Thomas (4-star, 45th).
But there are other former highly-rated Georgia recruits from the 2017 class missing from the top five at their position groups, according to Kiper.
The thought here is those rankings will change by the end of the year.
Particularly in the secondary, where draft eligible Bulldogs Tyson Campbell, Eric Stokes and DJ Daniel look every bit the part of draft picks.
Georgia fans, however, will remember it was Kiper who correctly predicted Fromm’s slide in the NFL draft after reading the tea leaves at the NFL Combine.
Perhaps the most glaring Georgia player omission on the first 2021 Kiper Big Board is former 5-star recruit Richard LeCounte.
LeCounte has the look of an elite safety this season, ready to live up to his lofty rating coming out of Liberty County High School. He was the No. 2-rated safety, and the No. 25 overall player in the nation.
Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy recently told DawgNation that LeCounte, along with Rice, is considered among the favorites for an invitation.
Georgia offensive lineman Netori Johnson, who Solomon Kindley recently predicted could start at right tackle this season, was a 4-star recruit and the No. 87 player in the country in the 2017 class. Johnson has done little of note so far in his career.
Linebacker Robert Beal is another former 4-star player from the 2017 class who was rated highly (107th) but has yet to find his way into the starting lineup.
Bottom line, Kiper has gotten the impression the NFL isn’t looking as hard at Georgia players as Alabama’s, even though the past two meetings between the teams has been decided by one possession in the final stanza.
DawgNation: Georgia players in the NFL