The NFL combine is this week, and normally the Georgia Bulldogs are well-represented.
That will not be the case this year because only two players from Athens got the invitation to make the trip to Indianapolis.
They are Aaron Murray and Arthur Lynch, but Murray will not take part in any drills because he is still healing from a torn ACL that he suffered in November.
So that leaves Lynch as the lone Bulldog to take part in the combine. But that doesn’t necessarily mean Lynch and Murray will be the only two Bulldogs drafted. While this won’t be a big draft class for the Bulldogs, there’s chance a few of these players will get their names called when the NFL draft takes place in early May.
So here’s a look at the Bulldogs’ top five draft prospects.
Chris Burnette needed to improve his durability heading into the 2013 season. And he did that by starting all 13 games for the Bulldogs last year.
He won’t be taking part in the combine, but coaches and scouts got a chance to evaluate him when he participated in the East-West Shrine Bowl.
Standing at 6’2’’ and 315 pounds, he has been productive as a starting guard for the Bulldogs the last three seasons. His best game came last year against Tennessee, where The Red & Black graded him at 82 percent and he was named SEC Lineman of the Week.
If he has a very good pro day in April, expect Burnette to be drafted in the sixth or seventh round.
Kenarious Gates looks the part of an NFL offensive tackle (6’5’’, 319 pounds), but he’s not as fast as scouts would like him to be.
He did take part in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and did well in the practices leading up to the game.
Why he is not taking part in the combine is a mystery to some. But he will be on an NFL roster when it’s all said and done.
Gates will be another Bulldog who will get some looks from teams in the later rounds of the draft.
The best and most productive defensive lineman for the Bulldogs the last two seasons was Garrison Smith.
The senior from Atlanta tallied 63 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, six sacks and two forced fumbles in 2013. So he knows how to get after the quarterback and pursue the football.
But in order to him to be drafted in the early rounds of the draft, he has to be faster off the edge. Teams might back away from Smith as a defensive end, but he would be ideal as a defensive tackle.
Smith will be another late round/free-agent pick, but he could improve his draft stock with a good pro day.
One player who will not have to worry about being drafted is Arthur Lynch. However, the combine is important to him because he can make himself a third-round pick with a good workout.
CBS Sports ranks him as the sixth best tight end in the draft, reporting that he is good at run and pass blocking and also has reliable hands.
However, the site also states that he won’t run away from anybody because he lacks the speed of Jimmy Graham or Antonio Gates. Regardless, Lynch would be a nice fit for all 32 teams because he will do anything the coaches ask of him.
The No. 1 spot could go to Lynch, but Murray has a good chance of being drafted in the third round, as he’s projected to be a fourth- to fifth-round pick, according to Ryan Lownes of Bleacher Report.
Murray is the most prolific passer in SEC history and does a lot of little things well, such as throwing on the move, having a good football IQ and being a good play-action passer.
But what will keep him from being drafted high are his size (6’1’’, 200 pounds) and ACL injury.
Murray will make the trip to the combine and will do the meet-and-greet with teams. He told Mike Huguenin of NFL.com that he will do all the drills when the Bulldogs have their pro day on April 16.