The Georgia Bulldogs have been the best team in college football two years running. There is no way to talk about a draft without bringing them up. We managed to catch up with LugnutDawg (@LugnutDawg) of Dawgsports.com (@Dawgsports) to talk about Jalen Carter and the other prospects from Georgia that everyone should pay attention to for the upcoming NFL Draft.
Obviously, the recent news around Carter’s arrest has dominated the story line and could have a dramatic impact on his draft stock moving forward. We began the interview with Carter and LugnutDawg immediately addressed the elephant in the room.
Battle Red Blog: Coming into the draft, Jalen Carter was likely the number one defender on the board. How does the recent news impact him? Some were saying he could have been the number one overall pick. Are there any current pros that you think he might be similar to?
LugnutDawg: So obviously, this past week’s news on Carter changes the dynamic a good bit. Does Carter’s role in the death of a teammate and staffer make him undraftable? Absolutely not. It would, however, I think, give teams pause about Carter’s decision-making prior to investing millions of dollars in him. In the end, someone may be willing to gamble on Carter’s off-field affairs of late and get a better value.
The big picture is that Carter is a disrupter. You get a guy in your front seven who, if you don’t account for him, you have issues. He’s a lot more polished and pro-ready than his former teammate, that was last year’s first overall pick - Jacksonville’s Travon Walker, who was more on the level of having tools that can be developed. Carter, at least with what we saw in Athens, has a lot of Aaron Donald qualities in him, and if he is on the field, you can’t forget about him.
BRB: The Houston Texans could use some depth at tight end. Darnell Washington is a name that has been linked to them with the 33rd selection. Do you think he lasts until then? Do you see him being a dynamic pass catching threat in the pros?
LD: Washington may very well be a late-rounder. Here’s the thing on Washington - as much as a genetic freak he was, he did not really thrive as a pass catcher in Athens. One reason is that Todd Monken used multiple tight ends, and Washington was in the same tight end room as a possible top-five pick next year - Brock Bowers. A good number of times, the question was asked around Athens about why Washington had fewer catches. The reason? As much of a mismatch nightmare that he is against a defensive back or most linebackers, he was even more vital as a pass blocker. Like many - it all depends on the situation he ends up in as far as that team’s tight end depth goes.
BRB: Stetson Bennett is obviously a big name at quarterback and quite accomplished. Can he be successful at the next level? Who might you compare him to at the pro level?
LD: I think there were Georgia fans that even into the middle of this past year were still thinking to themselves - ‘how is this guy still our QB1?!” On paper, he should have never been above the practice squad - the own words of Georgia’s coaching staff indicate the same - that everyone tried to bury Stetson Bennet IV, and he just kept on coming and coming and didn’t go away. Bennett does not have the measurables that will wow you like a Will Levis or CJ Stroud or even a Caleb Williams. But neither did a guy named Drew Brees - he just sits back there and makes throws. Given both of these guys being shorter, I think you have to draw that comparison, plus draw a parallel to Ryan Tannehill - a guy that is out there beating you, and you shake your head thinking, ‘we can’t stop a player who looks like that?!”
The bottom line, as we have seen through his career arc, is that Bennett bounces back time after time. If you are a quarterback with that mental toughness and can make throws, you have a future in pro football. If not, Stetson Bennett will never have to buy a meal in this state ever again.
BRB: Kelee Ringo and Broderick Jones have been a part of a lot of first round mock drafts. They don’t necessarily play positions of need for the Texans, but what kind of players are they?
LD: Ringo is all you want in a defensive back - a guy with a short memory. His legacy was already written before this past year after he ran back the pick six to beat Alabama the year before, and it’s hard to have a higher apex than that, but his play this year did that. The biggest thing that pops at you from Ringo is even when he gets beat, his closing speed to react and close on the play as well. There were even times this year when he’d give up a big play early in the game, he’d bounce back for a big play later on - it’ s the true mentality of not letting one play beat you twice.
Jones is the latest in a crop of offensive linemen Georgia is churning out for the next level, similar to what was on the other side of the ball where Kirby Smart came from at Alabama. In recent years, you have seen guys like Andrew Thomas and last year’s steal - Jamaree Salyer come out of Athens and show that they are NFL-ready. If nothing else, guys who come out of Athens are ready to go at the next level.
BRB: The Georgia Bulldogs were the deepest team in the country. Who are some players that will be selected on day two or three of the draft that we should keep our eye on?
LD: I think you have to keep an eye on Kearis Jackson at receiver. He’s not a George Pickens-type that’ll make highlight-reel plays, but he just has a knack for making tough plays. Obviously, if you kept up with the NFL combine this week, Nolan Smith should be one to watch not just for his on-field measurables, but off the field as well. Even when he was hurt this year, he was very vocal in the midst of the players on the sidelines - it was easy to tell that he had a ‘this guy will make you want to run through a brick wall’ mentality. That’s an intangible you can’t put a price tag on - especially if you are building a culture. I’d also keep an eye on Christopher Smith a safety. He’s what you are looking for in a guy who can ballhawk in the secondary and is not afraid to lay a guy out.
We wanted to thank LugnutDawg for joining us and answering our questions. Obviously, the Carter situation was the biggest news to come out of the combine and might be the kind of story that has a dramatic impact on what the Texans draft board looks like even if they weren’t likely to select him. We want to wish LugnutDawg and the folks Dawgsports all the best and remind you that if you want the lowdown on Georgia sports you can easily go there and get your fill.