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Georgia Brings Back Much Needed Edge Rushing Experience

The returns of Robert Beal and Nolan Smith look to impactful ones as both will look to lead a young Georgia front seven.

Arguably two of the biggest question marks on the list of potential NFL Draft prospects were Nolan Smith and Robert Beal. Both two of Georgia’s top edge rushers from a year ago decided that they wanted to “run it back” another year in Athens before departing for the NFL. 

The importance of these two returns could not be understated, as they are two out of the five major contributors upfront from this season that will be returning starters. Beal ended his fifth season as Georgia’s sack leader with 6.5 after helping replace Adam Anderson as Georgia’s SAM outside backer. 

Beal presence in an outside linebacker room will be essential to the future of the position as he will be instrumental in the development of rising freshmen Mykel Williams, Marvin Jones Jr., and Darris Smith.  

Nolan Smith will be looking to do the same, Smith held many doubters coming into 2021, much of which due to his size, or lack thereof. At 6-foot-2, 235 pounds, many question if he possesses the necessary size and arm length to produce at the professional level. 

While the former IMG Academy product was a mainstay in the starting lineup for Georgia at the JACK outside linebacker position, Smith’s draft stock did not rise significantly in the eyes of the experts. Smith finished with 31 tackles, 3.5 sacks while forcing four turnovers. 

A senior season could see him improve tremendously if he were to provide an increase in production as a pass rusher. Smith showed potential early on in the season bull-rushing opponents, but production slipped as the season progressed.

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Georgia’s front seven was integral to its success in the rematch against Alabama, as they pressured Bryce Young relentlessly throughout the game, even sacked the sophomore quarterback four times. If Georgia does return to the national championship stage it will be because of the veteran experience of Beal and Smith, who will be looking to lead a young front seven.

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