INDIANAPOLIS — J.R. Reed’s time at Georgia has come and gone, but the departing 2019 team captain made it clear the Bulldogs still have plenty of household names.
“You guys saw it out there in the Sugar Bowl, there was no drop-off,” Reed said at the Indianapolis Convention Center on Friday during his podium interview at the NFL combine.
“Those guys prepared, I’d taught those guys how to watch film, just the rules to follow,” Reed said. “The standard has been set in the defensive room, so the standard does not change at all.”
Georgia brings back nine of the 11 starters from the Sugar Bowl team that beat Baylor 26-14. The Bulldogs’ defense led the nation in 2019 in run defense and scoring defense, and it ranked No. 3 in total defense and No. 8 in pass efficiency defense.
UGA defensive coordinator Dan Lanning referred to it as the “No-Name Defense” in the days leading up to the win over the Bears in New Orleans.
Reed said Georgia will likely need a new nickname for its defense with so many players on the verge of break-out seasons.
“The net defensive star, if he’s not already a star, is Richard LeCounte,” Reed said. “After him, you have Azeez Ojulari, and a bunch of guys that are going to step up.
“You’ve got a great corner in Tyson Campbell, Eric Stokes, Malik Herring and Monty Rice,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to be a no-name defense any more.”
Reed, meanwhile, is intent on making a name for himself in Indianapolis this weekend after his draft stock inexplicably plunged this season.
“I don’t know why expectations have changed, they have changed in my mind,” said Reed, who contemplated turning pro after his junior season.
“I truly, firmly, know I’m the best safety here; I can play in the box, I can play the middle of the field, I can come down and cover your best tight end, whatever you want me to do in that secondary, I can do.”
Reed finished fourth on the team with 54 tackles, despite missing the Sugar Bowl while recovering from a turf toe ailment that cropped up during the bowl preparation in Athens.
Reed is healthy now, and he’s expecting to open some eyes with his physical testing and interviews.
“I’ve seen what some people think I’m going to test, and I’m going to blow those things out of the water,” Reed said. “Just show a lot of people I’m a lot better than what they think I am, and a lot more athletic.”
Reed indicated he’s not the only one the NFL talent evaluators seem to be underestimating.
“We had one of the best defenses in the nation,” Reed said, before referencing some of the UGA seniors who didn’t get NFL combine invites.
“We’ve got Tyler Clark missing, Tae Crowder missing, you’ve got Michael Barnett, guys like that that played a pivotal role in our defense.
“They’re going to shock the world, they’re going to work hard, they’re going to do a great job at their pro day, and I believe in all of them.”
Georgia is expected to hold its NFL pro day on March 18, with the NFL draft scheduled April 23-25 in Las Vegas.