Georgia being well-represented in the NFL draft shouldn’t come as a surprise at this point. The Bulldogs have won consecutive national championships and will send 12 players to NFL combine.

But one Georgia player has emerged as a candidate to be taken in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, as Daniel Jeremiah slotted Nolan Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs in a mock draft for

Smith likely won’t work out at the combine as he continues to recover from a torn pectoral injury he suffered in Georgia’s win over Florida. That he’s even in consideration speaks to how much the outside linebacker brings to the table.

“Smith is an outstanding athlete who reminds me a little bit of Haason Reddick when he was coming out of Temple,” Jeremiah wrote.” Smith would get a lot of pass-rush opportunities in Kansas City, thanks to the Patrick Mahomes-led offense.”

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Even after his injury, Smith was a vital member of Georgia’s championship team. He excelled prior to the injury for Georgia and continued to do so as a vocal leader for the Bulldogs.

“He committed to Georgia at an early stage in his career and he stayed committed,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said after the win over TCU. “Nolan is one of those rare guys that saw the value in being from Georgia, committing to Georgia, never wavering from Georgia, and leading the class.

“He never veered from that. He has some of the toughest DNA qualities I’ve ever been around. The guy – physical toughness. You can ask these guys, he never shuts up in the locker room. He’s like a motor mouth. But people embrace and enjoy him.”

Smith was voted a permanent captain for the Bulldogs, as Georgia went 15-0 this past season. The Bulldogs did that despite having to replace 15 draft picks from last season’s team, five of which went in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Because of what he showed during his Georgia career, Smith is now in a position to possibly join them.

“The rest of your life you will be remembered, were you a captain, were you there for everybody,” Smart said of Smith. “Did you stand by this team? Did you impact them in a way without being on the field? Because NFL teams will value someone who can impact their team when they’re not playing.

“I told him, the Ohio State win, about 20 percent of that win goes to him because he was over on that sideline never doubting, and just kept preaching. It’s little things like that that make a difference in a team.”

Jeremiah also had defensive tackle Jalen Carter and offensive tackle Broderick Jones as first-round picks, with Carter mocked to Chicago Bears with the No. 1 overall pick. The New York Jets are tabbed to land Jones with the No. 13 pick. Kelee Ringo and Darnell Washington could also play their way into being first-round picks with strong performances at the NFL combine.

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