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Georgia Defense Ranks Second in ESPN's Future Defense Power Rankings

Georgia's strong recruiting under head coach Kirby Smart could see the Bulldogs expedite the reloading of the defense.

After seeing fifteen Bulldogs get selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, eight of which came from the defensive side of the ball, many are expecting a drop-off from the Georgia defense in 2022. Not a shocking or outlandish prediction, as what the Georgia defense did in 2021 is, by all means, historic and will be hard to replicate. But how long could it be before the Georgia defense is one of the best in college football again? 

ESPN's Adam Rittenberg took a look into the future for some of College Football's defenses and put together a "future defense power ranking." 

"I'll now use the crystal ball on the top 25 defenses around college football. These rankings assess the 2022, 2023 and 2024 seasons, accounting for current rosters, incoming recruits and transfers, and potential NFL departures. Coaching changes also are a factor, as several prominent coordinators and/or defensive-minded head coaches have changed addresses since the last defense future power rankings appeared in 2021."

- Adam Rittenberg on how these power rankings are put together 

Rittenberg ranks Georgia second in the power rankings, pointing to a bright future after returning notable names this offseason and elite-level recruiting. However, so much has been made of the departures without looking at who Georgia will bring back. Several stars like Jalen Carter, Kelee Ringo, Christopher Smith, and Nolan Smith return to Athens this fall with big-game experience behind them. 

Rittenberg points to several players to watch, which includes senior Robert Beal will join Carter and Smith as penciled-in starters in Georgia's front seven. In addition, the Bulldogs will look to replace three first-round draft picks on the defensive line, giving Zion Logue, Tramel Walthour, and Nazir Stackhouse their first chance at major playing time in 2022. 

In the secondary, Kelee Ringo and Christopher Smith provide the secondary with key leaders for this season. The players that will join the returning safety and cornerback have yet to be determined. However, with the help of a former defensive back coach and now head coach Kirby Smart no position group will benefit more from the strong recruiting over the years than the defensive backs. 

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The biggest question mark for the defense in 2022 lies at inside linebacker. All three major contributors at inside backer were drafted this past April, leaving Georgia without a single collegiate start in the room. Yet again, strong recruiting during the Kirby Smart era means there isn't a lack of talent. Rittenberg names sophomore Jamon Dumas-Johnson as a potential "multi-year starter." Also mentioning Trezman Marshall, Smael Mondon, and Xaivian Sorey Jr. as possible running mates. 

Clemson is the only team ranked ahead of Georgia even after former longtime defensive coordinator Brent Venables took the head coaching job at Oklahoma; despite that, the Tigers may be one of the only teams able to match Georgia's defensive talent acquired via the recruiting trail over the years. 

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