Bulldogs Beat

Georgia players and next year's draft

Georgia has had seven players drafted over the previous two years. The Bulldogs could equal or surpass that amount in next year’s draft alone.

There were also only one Georgia player selected in the first two rounds the past two years. That will also almost certainly be improved upon next year.

It’s always a bit hazardous to project out a year from now. You don’t know how players will develop, or regress, and you can only predict whether a player will declare early for the draft.

But here are some early educated guesses on Georgia’s draft prospects for 2016. And when it comes to the projections, remember that it's based on what's known now. A good season, or a poor one, can change these things dramatically:

LEONARD FLOYD, OLB: It was a mild surprise that Floyd wasn’t in this year’s draft. For awhile Mel Kiper had him projected as a top 10 pick. But the shoulder injury, and just a sense he wasn’t completely ready, caused him to wait a year. That was great news for the Bulldogs, and probably the right decision for Floyd. He has plays where he’s unstoppable, but his overall production hasn’t yet equaled his potential. A good year, and he’ll be a big name come next April. (While he has two years of eligibility entering this season, it would be a shock to see Floyd stick around.)

Projection range: First or second rounds.

JORDAN JENKINS, OLB: Same position as Floyd, but a bit of a different player. While Floyd is long, rangy and athletic, Jenkins is bigger and more physical. Teams might project Floyd a bit higher because of the potential to fill out. But Jenkins is still first-round material if he has a good season.

Projection: First through third rounds.

JOHN THEUS, OT: There have been big things predicted for Theus since he was a high school senior, and he’s close to getting there. He had a good season at left tackle last year, and another one like that could push him into first-round consideration. At minimum he has the size, strength and athleticism to be a starter somewhere.

Projection: First through third rounds.

MALCOLM MITCHELL, WR: It’s been an interesting road to this point for Mitchell, to say the least. As he said last December, he probably would have just wrapped up his NFL rookie season if not for the ACL tear in the 2013 season opener. If Mitchell can put together a healthy senior season, and show that he has the explosiveness back, the long road will still result in something very good. But that’s all still the big question.

Projection: Second through fifth rounds.

GREG PYKE, G: He was actually eligible this year, as a redshirt sophomore, but gave it zero consideration. (When asked late in the season if he was considering it, Pyke laughed.) But Pyke had a very good first year as a starter, and with another good one, he might think harder about it.

Projection: Second day, or early third day.

JAY ROME, TE: The fifth-year senior from Valdosta has had an injury-marred last few years, and prior to that was behind Arthur Lynch on the depth chart. He’s behind Jeb Blazevich now. But there should be plenty of opportunities this season for a healthy Rome, and that could translate into a decent look from the NFL.

Projection: Middle-to-late rounds.

MARSHALL MORGAN, K: Kickers don’t get drafted very high, but the good ones can be happy being picked in the last three rounds. There’s no reason to believe right now that Morgan won’t fall in that category.

Projection: Fifth or sixth rounds.

KOLTON HOUSTON, OL: It’s not even certain Houston will pursue a pro career. If he hadn’t gotten his sixth year, Houston said he was just going to go into the private sector. Maybe another solid season changes his mind. He does offer versatility, as a guard and tackle.

Projection: Third through seventh rounds.

KEITH MARSHALL, RB: This name might not seem to belong, given he’ll still have a year of eligibility remaining, and he’s not even a starter. But Mark Richt pointed out last December that Marshall could decide to go if he has a good year. Running backs don't tend to have long NFL careers anymore, and every year is precious. So it would be understandable if Marshall went. Plenty of running backs have shown they don’t need to be picked high, or drafted at all, to have a career in the pros. Much will depend on Marshall’s health and how he looks when he's carrying the ball.

Projection: Third through seventh rounds.

Others who could be a factor: FB Quayvon Hicks, DL Sterling Bailey, NT Chris Mayes, DL James DeLoach, ILB Jake Ganus, WR Justin Scott-Wesley.