Two of Georgia football's top three sack leaders departed the program after the 2020 season, so surely the Bulldogs' pass rush will regress in 2021, right?
Not exactly. Any program would miss edge rushers Azeez Ojulari and Jermaine Johnson. Ojulari registered 9.5 sacks in just 10 games this past season. Add his 5.5 sacks to lead Georgia's defense in 2019, and he heads to the NFL with 15 career sacks in just 23 games.
Johnson's numbers weren't as eye-popping, but he did record five sacks in 2020. Playing time concerns prompted Johnson to transfer to Florida State.
If any program could quickly recover from those losses, it's Georgia. The Bulldogs return three of their top five sack leaders from 2020. Adam Anderson is the returning leader with 5.5 sacks, which is an impressive total considering Anderson typically only played on obvious passing downs.
Channing Tindall and Nolan Smith were fourth and fifth respectively on Georgia's sack list in 2020. The two combined for 5.5 sacks.
Smith is one of Georgia's hardest workers. He even requested reps on the scout team because he was concerned he wasn't getting enough during practice. Pass-rush consistency is the only quality missing from Smith's game, but he has the right attitude to improve.
Tindall is Georgia's best pass-rushing linebacker. He'll compete against Quay Walker for a starting job this offseason, but his pass-rushing ability will keep him on the field during passing situations.
The area where Georgia's pass rush will certainly improve is the defensive line. Nose guard Jordan Davis and defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt are staying for one more season. Their returns can not be overstated when talking about Georgia's 2021 defense.
Davis was likely a late first-round or early second-round pick, and it's believed he chose to return to improve as a pass rusher. Wyatt doesn't have many sacks, but he's proven difficult to block in the passing game and puts pressure on quarterbacks.
The only new starter on the defensive line is junior defensive end Travon Walker. He inherits the starting role from Malik Herring. From a pass-rushing perspective, Georgia is excited about Walker taking over the starting job. He's a better rusher than Herring and isn't far from catching Herring in other aspects.
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