ATHENS — Here at DawgNation, we haven’t had a chance to weigh in much on the NFL Combine, which is going on right now in Indianapolis. Let’s remedy that today.
In case you’ve missed it, Georgia has eight players working out this week at the combine. They are: defensive end Sterling Bailey, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, fullback Quayvon Hicks, outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins, running back Keith Marshall, noseguard Chris Mayes, wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell and offensive lineman John Theus.
To put that into the perspective with the rest of the SEC — and let’s face, that’s the first thing that pops into the minds of us Southern football junkies — that’s second among league teams behind, you guessed it, Alabama. The Crimson Tide, which often leads the country in this particular category, was actually third in the nation this year with nine (tied with UCLA). Ohio State was tops with an astonishing 16 invitees while Notre Dame was No. 2 with 10.
Georgia was tied this year with Florida and Auburn with eight, which comes in fourth overall nationally. For the Bulldogs, they easily could’ve had a couple more. Among those probably surprised and disappointed not to get an invitation were linebacker Jake Ganus, the team MVP this past season, and place-kicker Marshall Morgan, who left as one of the school’s most productive scorers.
Of course, we all know that getting invited to the NFL combine is not any kind of guarantee of success on that level or even an assurance one will get drafted. But it is somewhat of a gauge of how much interest and intrigue their might be among NFL executives and scouts for specific players.
For instance, there is a lot of interest in Floyd, who appears to be the Georgia player most likely to go first this year. At one point Floyd was appearing as a potential first-rounder in a lot of mock drafts, including one by ESPN’s Mel Kiper. But he has fallen back of late as concerns about his slight frame have surfaced. His draft profile lists him at 6-foot-4, 231 pounds, same as he was on Georgia’s roster.
“The weight is important for pass rushers in the NFL,” Kiper said this past Monday. “He has to get that weight up a little bit. I want to see what he weighs at because we don’t have accurate measurables on these underclassmen until we get to the combine.”
Shoulder injuries the past couple of seasons prevented Floyd from bulking up in the weight room in the offseason as much as he’d like. He’s supposedly completely healthy now, so I’m sure NFL execs believe they can do something about that.
In any case, we’ll see how all that shakes out over the weekend. The bigger question for me is, what to make of it?
Alabama (2012, ’14) or Florida (2013, ’15) had the most invitees to the combine the previous four years before this year. But Georgia is always represented among the top teams in the league. According to UGA, the Bulldogs have had 99 players drafted by NFL teams in the past 19 years. That doesn’t take into account a lot of free agents who have made rosters in that time, such as David Andrews with the Patriots this past year.
Georgia also proudly touts in its media guide that it ranks fourth in the nation in the past decade for all-time number of players drafted by the NFL. It’s also the only school in the country to produce three Super Bowl MVPs in Jake Scott (Dolphins), Terrell Davis (Broncos) and Hines Ward (Steelers).
It has had a goodly number of No. 1 picks as well, the latest being quarterback Matthew Stafford (2009). You may recall Todd Gurley going with the 10th pick overall last year to St. Louis.
Here’s some more fodder to consider: Georgia has had five or more players drafted every year except 2014, when only Aaron Murray and Arthur Lynch were taken. They had eight taken in 2013, seven in 2012 and six in 2011.
Some fans view that as a negative. They argue that Georgia should be winning more championships if it is producing that much professional talent.
Then again, it is Georgia that’s ultimately getting these players these opportunities. They don’t show up NFL ready. They have to be developed. The Bulldogs’ annual pro day, which will be conducted on March 16 this year, is always one of the most well attended in the South by NFL evaluation experts.
So it kind of falls into the category of what is your program’s or your head coach’s mission. Is it win championships at all costs or is it to train and develop as many players as possible to go on to professional careers? Ideally, of course, it’s both.
Anyway, it’s worth discussion. Meanwhile, here’s a list of SEC players at this year’s combine by school:
SEC AT NFL COMBINE
- Kenyan Drake, running back
- Derrick Henry, running back
- Dominick Jackson, offensive tackle
- Cyrus Jones, cornerback
- Ryan Kelly, center
- D.J. Pettway, defensive end
- Reggie Ragland, inside linebacker
- Jarran Reed, defensive tackle
- A’Shawn Robinson, defensive tackle
- Brandon Allen, quarterback
- Alex Collins, running back
- Hunter Henry, tight end
- Denver Kirkland, offensive tackle
- Sebastian Tretola, Arkansas
- Jonathan Williams, running back
- Peyton Barber, running back
- Shon Coleman, offensive tackle
- Kris Frost, outside linebacker
- Jonathan Jones, cornerback
- Ricardo Louis, wide receiver
- Cassanova McKinzy, inside linebacker
- Duke Williams, wide receiver
- Avery Young, offensive tackle
- Jonathan Bullard, defensive end
- Vernon Hargreaves, cornerback
- Alex McCalister, defensive end
- Jake McGee, tight end
- Antonio Morrison, inside linebacker
- Keanu Neal, strong safety
- DeMarcus Robinson, wide receiver
- Kelvin Taylor, running back
- Sterling Bailey, defensive end
- Leonard Floyd, outside linebacker
- Jordan Jenkins, outside linebacker
- Quayvon Hicks, fullback
- Keith Marshall, running back
- Chris Mayes, nose tackle
- Malcolm Mitchell, wide receiver
- John Theus, offensive tackle
- Josh Forrest, inside linebacker
- A.J. Stamps, free safety
- Vadal Alexander, offensive tackle
- Jerald Hawkins, offensive tackle
- Deion Jones, outside linebacker
- Jalen Mills, strong safety
- Rashard Robinson, cornerback
- Beniquez Brown, outside linebacker
- Taveze Calhoun, cornerback
- Chris Jones, defensive tackle
- Dak Prescott, quarterback
- Will Redmond, cornerback
- De’Runnya Wilson, wide receiver
- Evan Boehm, center
- Kentrell Brothers, outside linebacker
- Connor McGovern, guard
- Fahn Cooper, offensive tackle
- Cody Core, wide receiver
- C.J. Johnson, inside linebacker
- Robert Nkemdiche, defensive tackle
- LaQuon Treadwell, offensive tackle
- Laremy Tunsil, offensive tackle
- Jerell Adams, tight end
- Pharoh Cooper, wide receiver
- Brandon Shell, offensive tackle
- Brandon Wilds, running back
- Curt Maggitt, outside linebacker
- Marquez North, wide receiver
- Tra Carson, running back
- Joe Cheek, guard
- De’Vante Harris, cornerback
- Germain Ifedi, offensive tackle
- Drew Kaser, punter
- Brandon Williams, Texas A&M
- Stephen Weatherly, outside linebacker