ATHENS -- Kirby Smart will tell you his job is never done, but veteran NFL scout and Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy believes the Georgia foundation is in place.
“It has obviously been built seeing what they’ve done, and it has been fun to watch looking at it from the outside in,” said Nagy, a former scout with four different Super Bowl rings from three different teams in New England, Green Bay and Seattle.
“Georgia has always been a great program, Coach (Mark) Richt did a great job — I think when Coach Richt was let go, they were like 9-3 that year — so it’s not like they weren’t winning football games.
“But in order to get the program where Coach Smart wanted it, in his image coming from Tuscaloosa and having put his own spin on it … it takes time, and this year you saw the play out.”
Nagy said of course there’s some carryover from how Smart was helping Nick Saban build and run things in Tuscaloosa, but “he has his own spin on it” at Georgia and it’s not like it’s a carbon copy job.
Nagy would know, as he has a rare and unique perspective visiting each program in the nation at practices and games, first as an NFL scout for more than 20 years, and now as the Senior Bowl executive director.
Nagy saw a lot of Georgia tape the past two seasons scouting players for the Senior Bowl. The Bulldogs had a program-record 10 players receive invitations and six participated.
The number would have been even higher, but Adam Anderson -- arguably the best UGA prospect entering the season -- was indefinitely suspended in November.
Even so, Nagy came away impressed with what Smart and Georgia built along the defensive front with the likes of Jordan Davis, Devonte Wyatt, Travon Walker, Nakobe Dean, Channing Tindall and Quay Walker.
“It was a historically good front seven, I said that back in September on social media, I said this Georgia defense is going to be the defense you’re going be telling your grandkids about someday,” Nagy said.
“You look at what they have done in recruiting, really impressive, you look at the infrastructure and all of the facilities upgrade, they have done an unbelievable job.
“You can’t say enough about the job Coach Smart and his staff have done.”
Nagy took time out Monday night to go down the list of most all of the top UGA players, providing a detailed, first-person NFL analysis of strengths and weaknesses.
In sharing insight into the likes of Nakobe Dean and Travon Walker, Nagy reveled a tip that many NFL fans and draft enthusiasts will appreciate and should look for this year.
“When I got into scouting 25 years ago, people preached it’s a big man’s game, and it’s become less and less that over the years,” Nagy said. “It’s become more of a space game and less of a downhill game.”
That, Nagy said, bodes well for Dean who some analysts suggest might not be tall enough to be as effective of an inside linebacker as he was in college.
Teams are also looking more for raw athleticism that can be coached up once they get to the NFL level, which is good news for UGA defensive end Travon Walker.
“With Travon (Walker) it’s all about the traits, and we’re seeing that at every position, including quarterback, which is crazy,” Nagy said. “You used to want quarterbacks that knew how to play, (but) now they are looking for traits.
“Like Josh Allen and Buffalo’s ability to develop him quickly, I think, has everyone focused on traits across the board,” Nagy said. “And Travon has borderline traits, and some team will feel they can hit on him.”
The video below shares how Nagy breaks down the Bulldogs top NFL picks ...