Category Archives: The NFL Is Your Friend.

Come a long way, with a long way to go

Outside of being happy for those kids who get to chase their dreams further, the NFL draft holds little interest to me, other than what it has to say about the state of the Georgia program.  In that light, here’s an interesting note.

In Smart’s first year at UGA, Isaiah McKenzie was the only player drafted and he was taken in the fifth round. The next year, UGA had six players were taken overall and four inside the top 35 picks. A year later, seven Bulldogs heard their name called and two more key position players, Elijah Holyfield and Jonathan Ledbetter, signed free-agent deals soon after it was over.

Of the 14 players drafted since Smart has become Georgia’s head coach, only four of them are guys he signed. Mecole Hardman Jr. went the highest of those players, as he was taken No. 56 overall by Kansas City this year. Riley Ridley is next and was a fourth-round selection. Javon Wims and Isaac Nauta were seventh-round selections and Holyfield went undrafted.

That makes 10 players recruited and signed by the previous staff that were developed into NFL Draft picks and four of them were first-rounders — Roquan Smith, Isaiah Wynn, Sony Michel, and Deandre Baker. Wynn, Baker, and Smith blossomed under the new staff. Michel and Nick Chubb, who was selected No. 35 overall in 2018, were known commodities but bought into Smart’s vision for the program and hung around an extra year, dramatically improving their draft stock. It’s safe to say that all 14, especially the ones drafted highest, benefited greatly from learning under the UGA staff.

Richt recruited well, just not as well as Smart has.  But there’s definitely an argument to be made that Smart’s doing a better job with player development, too.  Both make for a terrific sales pitch on the recruiting trail, and it would seem to be a message that resonates with high level recruits.

That being said, context is important.  This is the mountain Georgia still has to climb.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting, The NFL Is Your Friend.

So much for that narrative

First cornerback selected in the draft.

Sitting out the Sugar Bowl really killed Deandre Baker’s future.

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Filed under Georgia Football, The NFL Is Your Friend.

Deandre Baker, malcontent?

This tweet made the rounds late yesterday.

Color me a little surprised.  Not by the timing — it smacks of the classic pre-draft shit talk about a kid by a team hoping he’d fall lower — but why we’re hearing about it just now.

Keep in mind, the criticism isn’t about skipping the game.  The NFL’s already proven time and time again it doesn’t care about that.  No, the whispers are about Baker setting a poor example with his behavior leading up to the game.  It’s a juicy enough take that there’s no way it could have been kept under wraps after that embarrassing bowl game loss.  Yet no teammate or coach whispered anything about Baker’s attitude then.

Maybe even more surprising is that a Georgia coach would denigrate a star player like that.  There’s no way you’d say something like that outside the program and expect it to be held in confidence.  It’s hard to imagine Smart would want something like that coming back on him in recruiting, which is exactly what you’d expect to happen now with that coming out.  Which makes me wonder about the source.  Is it fair to consider what, say, a former coordinator might mention in that regard?

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UPDATE:  Pushback from a teammate.

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UPDATE #2:  Former beat writer weighs in.

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Filed under Georgia Football, The NFL Is Your Friend.

‘The reason that you are going to college is to prepare yourself for the day you can’t play football…’

Man who makes millions lacks empathy for why some of his players would leave his warm embrace early for a shot (okay, for some, a long shot) at some of that sweet money:

“But people have to be smart about the business decisions they make relative to the NFL because it is all business. And when people make emotional decisions they are going to have to suffer some really difficult consequences for themselves in the future.

“You don’t have to go out for the draft early. You can come back and play.

“We’ve had six or seven guys who had second or third round grades that became top 15 and first round draft picks and made a significant amount of money by doing that. So there are some really good examples of guys who did it that way.

“I’m all for every one of our guys who went out for the draft. I’m going to do everything I can do to try get them drafted as high as they can get drafted, because at the point they say they are leaving, because what benefits our program is that they do great and I want them all to do great.

“Not just our players, but there are a significant amount of players that are not making good business decisions about what they do.

If at heart it’s a business decision, why not advocate policies that would make for smarter ones?  You know, like supporting more compensation for student-athletes?  Give ’em a business reason to stay.

And before you say the header quote should be all that matters to recruits, get real.  Saban also said, “I think we have a lot of people way back in high school that look at college as a conduit to get to the NFL.”  Why do you think that is, exactly?  You don’t think he’s out there pitching that line to kids he’s recruiting?  Of course he is.

They may have a dream, but Saban’s out there enabling it for his own selfish purposes.  There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s just that both sides deserve the opportunity to make fair business decisions.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, Nick Saban Rules, The NFL Is Your Friend.

“You’re not here to have fun. You’re here to get information about your future.”

Ever hear of the NCAA’s Elite Football Symposium?  Me, neither, but it sounds interesting.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA, The NFL Is Your Friend.

Take it to the bank.

Non-snarky question:  does anyone buy this ($$)?

Four-star cornerback Henry Gray feels as if he’s next on the Cook plan. Maybe he’ll get a house like the one on his coach’s wall one day, too. But as he walked outside of Smith’s office and turned the corner for an interview this week, he gave an odd guarantee you wouldn’t otherwise hear from a four-star cornerback who is one of the top five players at his position and a national top-60 prospect overall.

“I’m going to college for all four years, no matter what happens,” Gray told The Athletic.

Is that a guarantee?

“That’s a guarantee,” he said.

What if you’re a first-round pick?

“No matter what,” he said. “Even if I’m a first-rounder, I am staying all four years.”

Why?

“My mom. She is really big on school and she is really emphasizing to me that anything can happen in football, so she really ingrained in me that I need to get my education,” he said. “But I am staying all four years.”

Skip the obvious “he’s a seventeen-year old kid” take here — anything can indeed happen, so if you’re a first-rounder after your junior year, why would you risk losing a big pay day by getting injured in your last season in college?  You can always come back later to get that degree.

The author presents this as making Gray more valuable to the colleges recruiting him.  I can’t imagine many coaches factoring that into the equation, but maybe that’s just me.

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Filed under Academics? Academics., Recruiting, The NFL Is Your Friend.

If only Deandre Baker projected as a third-round pick…

Kirbs lays the BS on a little thick with this:

“I wasn’t surprised as high as he went. I thought it would be interesting to see (Michel) went versus (Nick Chubb) because their styles are so different. But in the case where so many kids don’t want to play their last game because they are worried about injury, I really think Sony jumped 20 or 30 picks in his last two games.

“You can say ‘I might get hurt’ or ‘I might go back in the draft’ … well, here’s a guy who was probably going into the playoffs a second-round or maybe third-round pick. And he jumped all the way to the first, which we all know is a large margin.”

Get back to me when one of your kids skips a playoff game, man.

26 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, The NFL Is Your Friend.