After having a record-breaking number of prospects drafted in last year’s cycle, Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs are once again set to be well-represented in the NFL draft.
It’s become a football factory, reminiscent of Nick Saban’s Alabama. Athens has become the place to go get NFL-ready players. In the latest mock draft from The Athletic’s Dane Brugler, four Dawgs went in the first round — Jalen Carter, Nolan Smith, Broderick Jones, and Darnell Washington.
5. Seattle Seahawks: Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia
Given last week’s news that an arrest warrant had been issued for Carter back in Georgia, the potential No. 1 pick’s draft projection has become much more complicated. (Carter turned himself in, was released on bond and returned to the combine.)
Teams understandably love the player, but now they must exhaust every resource to ensure they can trust the person. Though Seattle has been burned in the past (see: Malik McDowell), every player is different and every situation is unique. Carter could end up looking like a steal here.
There were many speculating that Carter would fall because of the misdemeanor charges against him, but Brugler doesn’t see him falling out of the first five picks. Nor should he. Carter is worthy of being the first player off the board, but the off-the-field concerns are warranted. Not for the Seahawks and Pete Carroll, though, who have been well-documented in taking “problem” cases and running with them.
12. Houston Texans (from Cleveland): Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia
Wide receiver is a popular pick for Texans here, understandably. Rather than reach on a pass-catcher, though, they could wait and still have plenty of options in Round 2.
Smith has the talent and character that would be an ideal fit for what Ryans and general manager Nick Caserio want to build on defense. Though he already figured to be in this range, Smith’s 1.52 10-yard split and 4.39 40-yard dash at the combine only helped his case.
There might not be a prospect who benefited more from the NFL Combine than Nolan Smith. The edge defender is flying up mock draft boards around the country, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he snuck into the top 10. There are concerns about his weight, but I’ve seen him manhandle SEC offensive linemen, so it doesn’t worry me as much.
13. New York Jets: Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia
The Jets are expected to have Mekhi Becton and Duane Brown under contract for the 2023 season, but the idea of both playing a full season feels farfetched. And, unless the Jets pick up Becton’s fifth-year option, this might be the final year for each in Gotham green. If Jones doesn’t win a starting tackle job in camp, he has the skill set to play guard early in his career before moving back outside long term.
The top tackles in this class are closer than Brugler’s mock draft makes it seem. Jones is very capable of playing multiple spots along the offensive line, and a team will see that as very valuable.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
At 264 pounds with 34.5-inch arms and 11-inch hands, Washington takes pride in being a sixth offensive lineman as a blocker. His 40-yard dash (4.64) and short shuttle (4.08) also confirmed his freaky athleticism at that size. Despite slapping the franchise tag on Evan Engram, the Jaguars will be in the tight end market this offseason.
Many mock drafts still have Darnell Washington as a second-round prospect, but I think he cemented himself as a first-rounder with an unbelievable performance in Indianapolis, and so does Brugler. Washington is a unicorn of an athlete, and he’ll make an offense that much more effective as a blocker and receiver.
Kelee Ringo might slip out of the first round, but the corner could very well sneak into the back end of the first and make it five Georgia Bulldogs who hear their name called on the first night of the draft.
Photographer: Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire
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