Gone Dawg: Who Can We Expect to Leave Early This Year?
In the numb state a brutal, season-ruining loss to Florida put me, I started to look ahead to Georgia’s prospects for the 2015 season. I thought about the positives of bringing back a mostly-intact offensive line and a quarterback who (in my opinion) is a better fit for the offense as he can sling the ball downfield. I thought about a defense losing a few pieces, but with an entire secondary and strong recruiting classes along the front seven, like their chances of progressing.
The downside of this, of course, is there are guys I’ll miss, and guys that could leave gaping holes where they used to play. Three pretty obvious ones come to mind. Let’s talk about their draft stock and their potential replacements.
1) Todd Gurley, RB (STATUS: 100% GONE)
If you try to give me any justification for TGIII coming back, then you are CRAZY. His suspension is regarded as a good thing in NFL circles, as it “keeps the odometer low” at a position with the game’s shortest shelf life. As the position with the game’s shortest shelf life, running backs need to get paid when they can, and I am not about to sit here and begrudge Todd doing exactly that.
Though he doesn’t show up on Mel Kiper’s Big Board at the moment, he is the consensus #1 draft prospect at RB, and the highest-rated since at LEAST Trent Richardson. Even though running back has been devalued in recent years due to the NFL rigging the game in favor of QB’s, someone will take Gurley in the mid-to-late first round in
April May (seriously, can we push the draft back to a normal time of year where draft season isn’t longer than the daggum actual season?)
REPLACEMENTS: You know the names: Chubb 120/725, 6 TD. Michel 23/223. 3 TD. Marshall (not posting his stats because its not fair to judge someone one year after an ACL). They’re not Todd Gurley, but the Dawgs will be alright.
2) Leonard Floyd, OLB (STATUS: 75% GONE)
This one may surprise you, because you remember Floyd being a true freshman in 2013. However, he played a year of prep school and is NFL-eligible. And scouts LOVE his size and explosiveness, comparing him to former LSU hybrid DE/LB Barkevious Mingo. With 6.5 TFL and 5 sacks this season, and some demonstrated versatility lining up EVERYWHERE along Georgia’s front, I think his stock is high enough to go and get drafted in the mid-to-late first. Kiper has him at 10 on the big board, and #1 among draft-eligible OLB’s.
With Lorenzo Carter (14 tkl, 1.5 TFL, 1 sack) in the mix and coming back as a sophomore, the loss of Floyd wouldn’t sting too much. Unless…
3) Jordan Jenkins, OLB (STATUS: 50% GONE)
Jenkins is a little bit more of an interesting case. At 6-2 252, he projects more as a 4-3 ‘backer than a hybrid, and hybrids seem to be all the rage right now. NFLDraftScout.com has him at 79 overall and 5th among eligible OLB’s, but I don’t think they’re aware of Floyd’s eligibility status.
After exploding onto the scene late in 2012 opposite Jarvis Jones, I’ve felt that Jenkins’ play leaves something to be desired. He seems to disappear for long stretches. Part of this could be Floyd’s emergence as more of the ‘featured’ guy. On the other hand, Jenkins has by FAR the most quarterback hurries on the team with 16, so he’s not a total bust at all.
I think he would benefit from coming back and being ‘the’ guy as a senior, as well as continuing to prove his ability in space and hit the league as a complete three-down linebacker.