Georgia Football: Power Ranking the Bulldogs' 7 Best NFL Prospects
Featuring a roster loaded with NFL talent, this year's Georgia Bulldogs team repeated as SEC Eastern Division Champions and was within five yards of earning a spot in the BCS Championship Game.
With a defense projected by some to have as many as nine future NFL players, the Bulldogs were expected to overwhelm their opponents with talent and athleticism. Early season injuries and suspensions caused UGA to struggle, but they gained momentum and began playing their best football at the end of the year.
As Georgia improved, the draft stock began to rise for many members of the team. Now, some can look forward to being top picks in the upcoming 2013 NFL Draft, and others will face the difficult decision of leaving UGA early to enter the NFL.
Here is a closer look at the Bulldogs' best NFL prospects.
7. Todd Gurley
There are players on this Georgia Bulldogs team who will be drafted before Todd Gurley, but that doesn't change his potential as an NFL prospect.
Gurley arrived in Athens as the less heralded of Georgia's two freshman running backs, but emerged as a dominant force in the Bulldogs backfield and finished with one of the most productive seasons ever for a freshman running back.
The Tarboro, NC native rushed for 1260 yards and 16 touchdowns and had eight games where he ran for 100 yards or more.
Although he does not have the same breakaway speed, it is easy to see the comparisons in Todd Gurley's game to former Alabama running back, Trent Richardson. Once he gets the ball, you wonder how many tacklers it will take to bring him down.
Georgia fans should be excited about watching Gurley become one of the best players in college football over the next two years. And if he continues to build on this season's success, NFL scouts will be just as excited.
6. Shawn Williams
Shawn Williams could be the most intriguing prospect on this Georgia Bulldogs football team.
When the moment you are most known for in a season is an interview where you say the defense is "too soft," you wonder what NFL teams are noticing about you.
Williams finished the season as the team's second leading tackler with 87, and brought back flashes of Greg Blue and Thomas Davis as a physical safety who would deliver tenacious hits. His ability to make tackles also allowed Bacarri Rambo to be more aggressive in forcing turnovers.
There was no question Williams was one of the vocal leaders of this Bulldogs defense, and NFL coaches will love the intensity he brings to a team. However, if Williams wants to adjust to the culture of the NFL, he will need to be a more careful about calling out his teammates in any interviews with reporters.
5. Aaron Murray
The biggest question Mark Richt and the rest of the Georgia Bulldogs will have after the season is whether or not Aaron Murray will return for his senior year in Athens.
Murray is currently a redshirt junior and has received his undergraduate degree from UGA, causing many to wonder if he is ready to move to the next level.
As a three-year starter, Murray has become one of the most decorated quarterbacks in the history of the SEC. He's ranked No. 2 in the nation in quarterback rating and finished the year with 30 touchdowns and over 3,400 yards.
However, despite his accomplishments as Georgia's quarterback, Murray has received a reputation of struggling in the Bulldogs' biggest games—he has a 1-5 record in games he's started against Top 10 teams. If he declares for the draft, Murray will have to deal with the perception that he struggles when playing on the biggest stage.
He could decide to return to Georgia as a redshirt senior and make one last run at a National Championship with what should be an explosive offense. Murray would start next year as a preseason favorite to win the Heisman Trophy and have an opportunity to finish his career with his name at the top of many of the records in the SEC.
4. Alec Ogletree
Although Jarvis Jones was the linebacker on this Georgia defense receiving the national recognition all season, Alec Ogletree was the one making the tackles. Despite being suspended for the first four games of the season, Ogletree led the team in tackles with 97.
As a junior currently projected as a first round pick by Todd McShay and Mel Kiper, one of the big topics in the offseason for Bulldog fans will be whether or not Ogletree decides to return for his senior season.
If he enters the 2013 NFL Draft, he will offer a great combination of speed and power at the linebacker position. Ogletree has developed a reputation at Georgia as a physical inside linebacker who looks for big hits, but also has range to make plays in pass coverage.
Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com described Ogletree as a player who "arrives with deceiving power and violent intentions."
When going through the draft evaluation process, Ogletree will need to impress teams that have questions about the fact that he's been suspended in two of his three seasons at UGA.
3. Bacarri Rambo
Similar to Alec Ogletree, Bacarri Rambo missed the opportunity to shine for the entire season because of a four game suspension to start the year. But like Ogletree, Rambo finished strong by being one of Georgia's most consistent players in the defensive secondary.
As a free safety for the Bulldogs, Rambo has been one of the Todd Grantham's keys in creating a defense that generates turnovers. In 2011, Rambo had eight interceptions. In 2012, he forced three fumbles and had three interceptions.
Because of his ability to create turnovers, Rambo earned the reputation of being known as a "ball hawk," similar to Ed Reed, the legendary safety for the Baltimore Ravens and the player Rambo models his game after.
Again, like Alec Ogletree, Rambo will need to address the offseason issues he had while at UGA when he goes through the draft process. If he is able to do that, there is a good chance we'll see Bacarri Rambo making an impact in an NFL team's secondary next season.
2. John Jenkins
John Jenkins is listed at 6'3", 358 lbs. and has proven to be a disruptive force on Georgia's defensive line. He has also shown impressive athletic ability by occasionally shifting to defensive end, allowing Todd Grantham to play Jenkins and Kwame Geathers at the same time.
It is this combination of size and athletic ability that has Jenkins projected as a first round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. He can be plugged in at nose tackle in a 3-4 defense or as a more athletic tackle in a 4-3 scheme.
As Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com commented when watching Jenkins in this season's game against Florida, "He even occasionally broke through to supply some pass rush, showing a higher revving motor than most players of his size."
Some analysts have compared Jenkins to former Alabama nose guard, Terrence Cody, because of his ability as a run stopper. However, Jenkins' talent and athleticism could have him on a projection more similar to that of Warren Sapp.
Can't you picture Big John impressing the judges with his moves on Dancing with the Stars?
1. Jarvis Jones
Despite only playing two full seasons of major college football, Jarvis Jones has emerged as one of the top-rated players for the 2013 NFL Draft. Currently, Jones is ranked No. 1 on Mel Kiper's Big Board and No. 2 on Todd McShay's Draft Board.
After being named the SEC's 2012 Defensive Player of the Year and having two outstanding seasons for Georgia, many expect Jones to skip his final season and declare for the draft.
Jones' ability to rush the quarterback has scouts drooling over his potential and he's drawn comparisons to DeMarcus Ware of the Dallas Cowboys. Although he is smaller than Ware, Jones has excelled playing as an edge rusher in Todd Grantham's 3-4 scheme, similar to how Ware was developed by Grantham when he was the defensive line coach with the Cowboys.
There will be questions about Jones' durability because of his neck injury from his freshman year at USC, which nearly ended his career, and nagging ankle injuries during the past two seasons that have caused him to miss some games.
But the 26 sacks and and nine forced fumbles Jarvis Jones has caused during his two year career as a Bulldog will help him be one of the first players taken on draft day.