The NFL Draft begins tonight, and Todd Gurley should break a couple of droughts. Not only should he be Georgia’s first first-round selection since 2013; he’s likely to be the first running back selected in the first round since 2012.
The Dawgs only had two players selected last year, and they should fare a little better this year. There’s still only one certain high draft pick (Gurley), but Georgia stands a good chance of having three or four players called before it’s all over. Any more than four would be a pleasant surprise, but late round selections can be unpredictable. Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Floyd deciding to remain in school made Georgia’s draft class smaller than it would have otherwise been, and that’s great news for the 2015 Bulldog team.
Marc Weiszer has a look at what’s expected to happen for Georgia’s NFL hopefuls once Gurley is off the board. In all, about nine or ten Dawgs could be drafted or at least sign a free agent deal that will earn them a trip to an NFL camp and a chance to make a roster.
- C David Andrews
- WR Chris Conley
- DE Ray Drew
- RB Todd Gurley
- LB Amarlo Herrera
- QB Hutson Mason
- S Corey Moore
- CB Damian Swann
- DT Mike Thornton
- LB Ramik Wilson
Todd Gurley is rocketing up many draft boards, and why wouldn’t he? The only question about him is the knee, and that recovery seems to be going just fine. I admit that I’m surprised to see him in some top 10s, and he’s nearly a consensus first round pick. It’s not that he’s not one of the best running backs in the draft. It’s just that spending such a high pick on Gurley would buck the trend. “In the past two years, a running back hasn’t been taken in the first round,” notes Dan Kadar. With so much emphasis on quarterbacks and the line of scrimmage in the NFL, running backs have become more or less interchangeable parts with a shelf life of 4-5 years. Kadar again: “Only one of the top 10 rushers in the NFL (in 2014) was a first-round pick.” That’s a relatively low payoff for such a valuable first round pick.
Whoever drafts Gurley will end up with a fantastic player with all of the tools to become and NFL star. It says a lot about his potential and ability that it’s a foregone conclusion that an NFL team will spend an unconventional first round pick on a running back only months removed from a major knee injury.
Few players made as much noise at the NFL combine as Chris Conley. Conley’s long been a Georgia fan favorite, and he’s become well-known as a Renaissance man in the classroom and of course behind the camera. But the combine was a reminder that Conley can play a little football as well, and he should hear his name during the draft.
Conley’s likely draft position is uncertain; Kiper has him anywhere from the second to the fifth round. One reason for that wide spread is the depth of the receivers in this year’s draft. At least six players (Amari Cooper, Kevin White, DeVante Parker, Breshad Perriman, Jaelen Strong, and Nelson Agholor) are possible first round selections, and Conley probably won’t jump any of them. Where these receivers end up will be one of the more interesting subplots of the draft. Cooper could go as high as third, triggering a run on the position. Then again, teams might pass on using a first round pick on a receiver and feel confident about getting a good value with a later selection. How soon this deep pool of receivers is exhausted will play into where Conley is drafted. If there’s an early run, he might be one of the best receivers left in the second or third round. If teams put off drafting receivers, it could take several rounds before Conley is the top receiver on the board.
Ray Drew was the lynchpin of Georgia’s 2011 signing class. After several position changes, a slew of new position coaches, and some nagging injuries, a healthy Drew finally began to come into his own as a senior. Drew was magnificent against Tech and played well for most of the back end of the 2014 season. It’s unfortunate for Georgia that Drew leaves just as things were starting to click, but that’s potentially good news for his NFL hopes. He has the ability to be a very good defensive end at the next level, and now it’s just a question of finding the right opportunity.