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Dawgs Draft in Review: How the Class of 2015 Fits in the NFL


Another draft has come and gone, and Georgia continued to keep its strong NFL pipeline open. The Dawgs ranked #13 in draft player quality, a pretty solid ranking considering its one elite prospect has a torn ACL. The full list is here, and you’ll get a laugh at Florida ranking #4 due to the strength of its….offense…?…having six players drafted. WHO SAID WILL MUSCHAMP CAN’T COACH?!?

Todd Gurley, Rams (1st round, 10th overall): Obviously, most of the strength of this Georgia class lies in the monster RB Todd Gurley. The first first-round running back selected since 2012, Gurley’s landing spot is less than ideal. The Rams are weak on the offensive line (though strong behind Greg Robinson and Roger Saffold on the left side), and have a complete dearth of playmakers on the outside as long as Tavon Austin demonstrates a lack of receiving skills. To add insult to injury (no pun intended), the Rams play in the NFC West with strong defenses in Seattle and Arizona. Perhaps he can eat in two games against a depleted 49ers team, but who knows?

Former Auburn back Tre Mason had a pretty nice second half to his rookie season last year, but Gurley should have no problem supplanting him as the featured back. Fantasy ripoff Zac Stacy, though?

In case you missed it, Stacy’s response to the Gurley pick was swift, as he tweeted (and deleted) “YIKES”, followed by a trade request, which the Rams granted for a 7th-round pick.

FIT: D+. Gurley is going to be asked to be the workhorse here, and his career will likely be shortened by Jeff Fisher giving him the Eddie George treatment.

Chris Conley, Chiefs (3rd round, 76th overall): From a pure opportunity standpoint, Conley couldn’t have landed in a better situation. The Chiefs let Dwayne Bowe walk this offseason, and their receivers accounted for ZERO touchdowns last year. With their signing of deep threat Jeremy Maclin, there should be ample space to operate underneath for the combine wonder.

Additionally, Conley immediately becomes KC’s tallest receiver, as 6’3 journeyman Armon Binns and his 27 career catches are likely not to stick on the roster.

FIT: A-. WR was likely KC’s biggest need going into the draft, and Conley joins a 7th-rounder from Northern Illinois as new targets for Alex Smith. Only Smith’s inability to get the ball downfield keeps this from being a home run for Conley.

Ramik Wilson, Chiefs (4th round, 118th overall): The first three Georgia draftees will play their football in Missouri, which is just…odd. SEC country indeed, I suppose.

Ramik has a good chance to stick as a 3-4 inside ‘backer (where he played for his most productive Georgia year), as the Chiefs are a little light there. Derrick Johnson is a stud, and Josh Mauga had 103 tackles in his first year with the team. Depth is a major concern here, and the team’s run defense was not-so-good last year. Wilson should get a shot to move right into a reserve role and join the starting 11 if Johnson’s injury issues persist.

The fear here is that some are listing him as an outside linebacker, where he would be well behind former Dawg (and 2014 sack leader) Justin Houston, as well as aging edge rusher Tamba Hali and last year’s second-round pick, Dee Ford.

FIT: A if he stays inside, F if they see him as an edge guy. We grew to know and love Wilson as an inside ‘backer.

If he can protect the middle of the field like the following GIF (B.S. penalties aside), Wilson will be just fine.

Damian Swann, Saints (5th round, 167th overall): Again, depends on where the team sees him playing. With Keenan Lewis and former Patriot Brandon Browner entrenched as the starting corners, the versatility Swann demonstrated in one year under Jeremy Pruitt is essential to his staying power.

If he is indeed a corner in the Saints’ D, Swann will also be competing with former Florida State corner P.J. Williams, a third-round pick who many mocks saw as a late first-rounder.

Rotoworld lists Swann as a free safety, where he’s clearly behind Jarius Byrd. Career starter Kenny Phillips was signed this offseason for depth as well, but he’s been completely unable to stay healthy.

FIT: C-. Swann’s best hope for a roster spot here is as a special teamer and sub package corner. While that’s all you can really expect as a fifth rounder, the Saints have invested heavily in their secondary over the past two years. On the other hand, 81.3% of 5th rounders at least play their rookie years with the team who drafts them, so he should be in NOLA for special teams and depth in year one.

Amarlo Herrera, Colts (6th round, 207th overall): ‘Marlo is a prototypical run stuffing, old school middle linebacker who may have missed his NFL calling by 10-15 years, but he has a good chance to stick for his first few years. The Colts have been awful against the run in recent years, and a division with Houston, Jacksonville, and Tennessee means that he’s playing almost half of his schedule against teams that aren’t exactly capable of chucking all over the field and exploiting his weakness as a pass defender.

D’Quell Jackson (140 tackles) and Jerrell Freeman (93) are Indy’s inside incumbents (alliteration!). Freeman is on a 1-year RFA deal, and Jackson is entering his 9th year in the league. From a depth perspective, Herrera should be able to find some time on the field.

FIT: A-. There aren’t many better fits for one of my all-time favorites.

Among the undrafted Dawgs, C David “Boss” Andrews to New England is good, because (spoiler alert) Bill Belichick tends to get the most out of all of his players, one way or another. Ray Drew is a Dolphin, Toby Johnson a Titan, and Corey Moore a Texan.

On balance, one feels for Gurley. The rest of the Dawgs’ draftees ended up in very good situations to display their talents.

 

Georgia at South Carolina: Three Keys


Everywhere I have been asked (DudeYouPodcasts, mostly), I have been a little down on Georgia’s prospects in this game. The win over Clemson (hey, we spend so much time talking about SEC superiority, right? Clemson shouldn’t have even showed up to Sanford Stadium) is vastly overrated, and I don’t think Georgia’s offense is built to exploit South Carolina’s defensive weaknesses exposed in the first two weeks by Texas A&M and East Carolina.

Defensively, I see Georgia as vulnerable to South Carolina’s two biggest strengths: running the ball with a healthy(ier) Mike Davis, and the deep passing game with Damiere Byrd, Nick Jones, Shaq Roland, and Pharaoh Cooper all able to stretch defenses vertically.

LET’S GET IT!

1) Make South Carolina One-Dimensional: To my point about the Georgia defense, the Dawgs can’t afford to play an ambidextrous South Carolina offense on the road. If the secondary can contain the vertical passing game, great. Mike Davis 4-5 yards at a time, relying on a Dylan Thompson mistake (likely in the short to intermediate range) and playing bend-but-don’t break…that’s a winning gameplan.

Conversely, taking Davis out of the game and taking chances one-on-one with the Cocks’ wideouts scares me a little more. Having spent more time than I want to claim in Columbia, nothing gets that crowd going more than a quick strike score (see also: 2012: South Carolina 35, Georgia 7). Heads on a swivel, Devin Bowman, Damian Swann, and co.

Never forget.

Never forget.

2) Hutson Mason: Efficiency: Spoiler alert, this is going to be a key until Mason has to win a game with his arm. What do I mean by efficiency? I mean keeping enough threat of burning SC with the passing game to keep them from loading the box on Gurley, the clone, and the sprinters.

Tell me Mason throws for 200 yards with no picks and 60% completions and I’m willing to bet Georgia is 2-0.

3) Composure: This is the all-encompassing ‘by far the toughest environment we’ll have to play in’ key. What happened in 2012 was the opposite of composure. Special teams errors, fumbles, picks, taking the first punch and never having a chance. Ugh.

Given the evidence we have thus far this season, the Dawgs should win this game with 200 yards both on the ground and through the air, with a couple Dylan Thompson turnovers to boot.

It doesn’t always work that way.

NEVER. FORGET.

NEVER. FORGET.

 

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