There’s NFL draft analysts, and then there’s ESPN’s Mel Kiper, perhaps the most famous of them all.
Kiper did his pre-draft conference call earlier this week, and for UGA fans, probably the best thing that Kiper said was that he expected Deandre Baker to be the very first cornerback selected, as written by DawgNation’s Connor Riley.
However, Kiper also had some interesting things to say about other UGA draft-eligible players, including running back Elijah Holyfield.
Kiper clearly thinks Holyfield would have benefitted by returning to the Bulldogs for his senior season, rather than to declare early for the NFL. Holyfield ran a 4.78 at the NFL Combine, and may have been even slower at UGA’s Pro Day.
When asked about Holyfield by the AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbettter during the call, Kiper responded: “I would say, for underclassmen, know your measurables. Know your accurate measurables. And if they are not in line with where they need to be or the range that they need to be, you can go back, you work on things, and become a better player.
“I have always said, if you are not a first-round pick or an early to mid-second round pick, guaranteed, or the consensus of where you will be picked, you should go back for another year. If you have eligibility, use it. Don’t come out when you are not a first or second-round pick. Back in the day, it would be if you are not a first-round pick you did not come out early, now we have fifth, sixth, seventh round picks coming out early. It makes no sense to me.”
Kiper also addressed the draft potential of some other UGA players:
“(Receiver) Mecole Hardman Jr., with his versatility in the return game, with his 4.3 speed, is a very intriguing guy in the third, fourth round,” Kiper said. “Same thing for (receiver) Riley Ridley, the receiver there.
“I think when you look at (outside linebacker) D’Andre Walker, if he can take what you saw glimpses of … and you saw instances where he got after the quarterback, and make that a little more consistent, I think D’Andre Walker certainly has a chance to be a guy on Day 3 who could come in with some pass rush potential in the National Football League.”