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What the 2021 NFL Draft first round taught us about Georgia football

SystemSystem Posts: 10,748 admin
edited April 2021 in General
imageWhat the 2021 NFL Draft first round taught us about Georgia football

The first round of the 2021 NFL Draft is complete. Eric Stokes was the only Georgia Bulldog taken but there were a number of ways the night impacted the Georgia football program.

Read the full story here



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    VetdawgVetdawg Posts: 763 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    Also, in case you’re keeping score: Florida had 2 and Kentucky had one taken before Georgia had a player taken in the first round.

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    DGDinNYCDGDinNYC Posts: 748 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    UGA has a player development problem. Last night five schools had multiple first round players including Northwestern, but not UGA.

    If you look at the primary programs we're competing with: Bama, LSU, OSU & Clemson and just go back to 2017 here is the first round pick breakout:

    Bama- 21

    OSU- 11

    LSU- 10

    Clemson 9-

    UGA- 6

    We're last in top 5 picks, top 10 picks. Players are coming in as elite prospects and leaving and draftable but not elite draft picks. WE've had two five stars get drafted in the first round (Wilson & Michel), two four stars (Thomas & Smith) & Two 3 stars (Baker & Stokes).

    At some point your best prospects need to become among the best players in the draft or you're never gonna win a title.

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    stonestone Posts: 399 ✭✭✭ Junior

    The difference why more players do not leave early from UA than UGA is Saban. He sits down with each player and their families and presents which round they will probably be drafted. Saban presents this as a business decision. His position is if you are not a first rounder you should return with a few exceptions. Within their program it seems to be pretty common knowledge what he advises each player. The other players then watch the draft and see what happens. Saban’s advice has been spot on. Many of the players leave millions of dollars on the table.

    Now I sure Kirby does the same thing. With the number of players leaving who we believe should have returned, it seems to indicate one of two things. The first is the players are not listening to Kirby and either do not believe or trust his assessment. The second is there are issues about the program. The players don’t think they will develop in a significant way to improve their draft position or they are no longer having fun.

    Kirby is right about the perception of player development, recruiting and the draft. All of these are linked. The question to be asked remains - evaluation recruiting development How is Kirby doing?

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    kirkhilleskirkhilles Posts: 1,103 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    Well, it's finally nice that Round 1 is over and we can stop talking about some of our... controversial QBs. Now let's see where was Jamie? Not in Top 3 like he was supposed to. Not 4th or 5th... LOL, enough of that.

    I mean, I don't think "disastrous" would've been an accurate representation. I mean, 5 of the players were QBs. Clemson had their QB + 1 one other player. Many other programs had just 1 like mentioned. VT had 2 and that doesn't mean anything, nor SC having a #8 pick nor Florida having 2 picks. I don't think we'll see any major changes in recruiting positions based on this.

    In some ways, Bama having 6 players go first round has some advantages. First off, it shows how much talent they had last year and how we weren't likely to get "within 1 play" of beating them. Next, it means that those players are gone now. I'm not saying that Bama's "cupboard is empty" but maybe it'll decrease their invincibility by a bit. It DOES, however, irritate me that they had TWO of the best WRs in the country while we struggle to have one heathy star WR.

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    BetheredgeBetheredge Posts: 201 ✭✭✭ Junior

    The consistent feedback from scouts concerning the players that returned & those that left early was that they had not yet developed NFL size & strength. With roster limits, salary caps & a win now mentality, teams can't afford project players in the first couple of rounds unless a player shows something special before draft day. Stokes' insane 40 time did it for him. The rest will have to wait & fight this summer for a foster spot.

    The question for Kirby & the Dawgs is what can be done to strengthen the training program? Why are guys choosing to leave early vs. staying in Athens to build the size & strength needed to move up in the draft. Answer these questions & the Dawgs will hoist more championship trophies & see more players chosen on day one of the draft. With the guys returning, if a few more had decided to stay, the 2021 season & 2022 draft would have been historic occasions.

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    reddawg1reddawg1 Posts: 3,680 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    There is a little bit of truth in the two lines of thinking IMO as I read through the comments. the first that UGA isn't "coaching them up" for short and the other is that "the cream will find a way to rise to the top" no matter who is coaching them.

    Stokes was a 3 star at best and now he's a 1st round pick so kudos to whomever coached him and then there are the bevy of players who come ito UGA as 5 stars or high 4 stars who seem to underachieve and fall to the late rounds of the Draft.

    If I'm not mistaken UGA has recruited on par with BAMA with 5 and 4 star players the past few years, but something seems to be missing. I guess, if someone wanted to, they could do some research and find out how many 3-4 star recruits BAMA puts in the League versus UGA or a Clemson or OHio St. That would be telling IMO.

    Then look at the 5 stars that each team has had recently and follow their paths and see how they ended up as draft picks. Researching these two things would seem to me to either put an end to any negativity towards the coaching staff not "coaching them up" or call it into question even more.

    There you go CR no charge. Would make a great read.

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    E_RocE_Roc Posts: 1,231 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    A third possible explanation is that Georgia hasn't won a national championship yet under Smart. I have to believe that goes a long way - a player having the sense that if he stays, there's a strong chance he'll go out as a champion. It's fair to assume that most of these elite recruits come out of high school imagining themselves as future NFL stars. And once they become eligible to pursue that, I would think their needs to be some tangible reward on the table to get them to stay another year. Of course, this won't apply to every single elite recruit, and I don't presume to know what any given one of them thinks or goes through in their decision process. But it's a reasonable theory, I think.

    Coaches are like players, in that they have to grow into their role in order to become elite. It doesn't happen automatically. Smart has been at it for a few years now, and the signs of his development are there. In the meantime, though, it sure would have made things a lot easier and sped the process along to have had some of those who left early stay another year. I still think he'll get there, and I think once that dam breaks we'll be seeing more of these elite recruits stay for another year (if they didn't win it all in their junior year).

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    pgjacksonpgjackson Posts: 17,983 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate
    edited April 2021

    We discussed this on another thread a while ago and discovered that Bama has as many players declaring early as us. There is a perception that Bama is better at hanging on to Seniors, but it's not entirely factual.

    This is evidence that Saban is just on a different level than the rest of the NCAA...and it's not even close. And it's not likely to change as long as he's still coaching. We might be able to close the gap a bit (and we have at recruiting HS players)...but Bama is always going to put a bunch of people in the first round of the draft.

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    MontanaDawgMontanaDawg Posts: 1,888 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    As many of the commenters below have noted, UGA has fallen behind in getting the cream of their crop to the top of the pile. Bama is simply the best at doing that. Many factors go into the draft decision and timing. Development, coaching, natural ability, athleticism, and other intangible factors affect a player's draft outcome.

    If you go back to 2017 when the DAWGS had Chubb and Michel come back for their senior season, it propelled us to playing for a Natty. One could easily argue that it also helped the draft stock of those two players the following year. On the flip side, you have Fromm making a very questionable decision to leave and ends up not being drafted until the 5th round. Should he have played another year? Did 1st round pick Justin Field's controversy force him out the door?

    The bottom line questions remain: are Kirby and staff doing enough to coach, develop, and advise these elite players? Does it really matter to the success of the DAWGS winning National Championships ???

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    E_RocE_Roc Posts: 1,231 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    The issue, though, is that we've had more guys leaving early who weren't (yet) NFL-caliber. As I touched on below, I do think some of that has to do with Smart evolving as a coach and learning how to get the most out of his team. Again, I think he's on the right track, and it just takes time. He didn't get to spend his first years as a HC honing his craft at some directional school where his missteps would go largely unnoticed.

    This past off-season we saw a positive change in a number of draft-eligible contributers deciding to stay. If I recall, the first one to announce it was Daniels, which I think bodes well for the general direction of the program; his involvement, and the boost to the offense that it brings, is reflective of Smart's development as a coach. Only time will tell if it's sustained, but I do see it as cause for optimism.

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    pgjacksonpgjackson Posts: 17,983 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    That is a good point. Bama's early departures are generally early round guys. Ours (such as Hollyfield and Fromm) tend to be late round guys.

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    stonestone Posts: 399 ✭✭✭ Junior

    reddwag without doing a lot of research about 3 and 4 stars going to the league from Bama compared to UGA, in this draft in the first round they had one 3 star (Jones) and two 4 stars (Waddle, Smith). The other three who were drafted in the first round were 5 stars.

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    districtdawg5districtdawg5 Posts: 5 ✭ Freshman

    I hear what you're saying, and I'm concerned too - I want to beat Bama just as much or more than the next UGA fan. But let's take another look at the other draft-eligible Bulldogs this year before we panic (my subjective thoughts):

    Eric Stokes - 3 star - Overperformed. Development win.

    Azeez Ojulari - 4 star - Overperformed and beat out other 5 star OLBs. Development win.

    Tyson Campbell - 5 star - Could argue he underperformed, given his lofty recruiting ranking, but will still be drafted at top of 2nd. Given many chances to succeed, starting his freshman year.

    Ben Cleveland - 4 star - likely will go day 2. I would argue he neither significantly over-performed, nor significantly under-performed.

    Monty Rice - 4 star - solid collegiate career (finalist for Butkus award), but draft position likely held back by the fact that he does not have the speed NFL is looking for in a LB these days. Nothing the coaching staff can do about that.

    DJ Daniel - 4 star - solid collegiate career, if unspectacular. Neither coaching/development fail or win, in my mind

    Trey Hill - 4 star - top 150 recruit - started 14 games as a sophomore, draft position likely impacted by surgery on both knees. Neither major coaching/development fail or win

    Mark Webb - 4 star - Never really found footing as CB or WR, could argue coaching fail

    Malik Herring - 4 star recruit - Solid, if unspectacular contributor - neither coaching fail/win.

    Richard LeCounte - 5 star - Draft stock took hit due to motorcycle accident and subsequent testing numbers. Not a development issue, IMO.

    Tre McKitty - Played at GA one year - hard to draw conclusions on coaching/development.

    So, looking at that, I don't see a ton of 5 stars that flopped, or even 4 stars. You could argue that more of those 4 stars should be developed into stars, but for the most part I think a lot of these kids played as should be expected. Over the next couple drafts we'll see more 5 stars enter the draft (Adam Anderson, Nolan Smith, etc.) - so maybe that will result in higher UGA draft picks. That might be more indicative. But at this point I don't buy the argument that UGA coaching failed to develop these players properly.

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    BEACHDAWGBEACHDAWG Posts: 3,409 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    While it is always cool to say "that guy was a Dawg," evaluating the program based on what players do after they leave is ludicrous. We have an annual top five program because of Coach Smart, his selection of coaches and the way they all do their jobs.

    We have NEVER BEEN an annual top 5 program prior to Kirby's homecoming. There are so many reasons to love/hate UGA right now. The more they hate us the better off we are. The only folks evaluating their program based on alumni being successful in the NFL are those that don't really have a shot at regular season glory. I'll take one loss seasons, January games and Saturday success over Sunday potential every day.

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    reddawg1reddawg1 Posts: 3,680 ✭✭✭✭✭ Graduate

    The 2022 draft will be a bumper class for UGA as far as the top 50 picks go. JT, Salyer, Jordan Davis, maybe Pickens, Trayvon Walker, ANderson, Wyatt, Quay Walker ,Nolan Smith, Nakobe Dean, Tindall to name a few . Hopefully a few of these underclassmen will decide to "play it back" and improve their draft stock even if incrementally.

    That said, just like BAMA's run to the title in 2021 with their bumper draft class this year UGA needs to take advantage of this haul of spectacular players. If not I believe we will look back after next year's draft and think what a waste of talent.

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