In the latest early NFL 2022 Mock Draft, ESPN senior writer Todd McShay released his first mock for the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Obviously, the mock can be taken with a huge grain of salt, as we are two weeks past the 2021 NFL Draft.
Georgia just set the program record for most Bulldogs taken in a single draft class with nine. The previous record was eight, set in 2002 and tied in 2013.
The new record probably won't last long, as many have begun to speculate as to how many impact players could be departing Athens after the 2021 season. With Zamir White, James Cook, Jamaree Salyer, Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt all seniors next season, they will depart for the NFL. Starting quarterback JT Daniels is expected to enter the draft following next season.
The sheer number of draft-eligible players that the Bulldogs have on their roster this season makes it even more surprising that only one Georgia player was taken in the 32-pick mock draft.
Rising junior wideout George Pickens went No. 19 to the New Orleans Saints. McShay said, "Pickens is a 6-foot-3 receiver with 14 TDs over the past two seasons. He tore his ACL in March, but he is still a top receiver in the class and could return late in the season for a final draft push." Pickens was the second receiver off the board, behind only Ohio State's Chris Olave. Those two made up half of the wideouts taken in the first round.
While Pickens is undoubtedly an NFL talent that's shown high upside in his first two seasons at Georgia, it is surprising that the likes of Jordan Davis or Daniels were not selected in this very early mock draft.
Davis was viewed as one of the top interior defensive linemen entering the 2020 season. However, despite the hype of being seen as a potential first-rounder, Davis chose to return to Athens. The first interior defensive lineman wasn't selected until the 38th pick when Christian Barmore of Alabama was picked by the Patriots with a second-round choice. That created the question in the days following the draft as to whether or not Davis chose UGA over potentially being a first-rounder.
Sources indicated to Dawgs Daily that even without a Pro Day, Davis was slotted to be a top-50 pick in this year's draft. Had he declared for the draft and participated at Georgia's Pro Day, the feeling was that he would have put on an absolute show, worthy of vaulting him firmly into the first-round discussion.
Dawgs Daily's Brooks Austin would later point out, "Of course, Davis will likely increase his draft stock this year. With a season where he can continue to develop a pass-rushing skillset, Davis is seemingly on pace to enter the first round of next year's draft."
When compared to the interior defensive line, McShay penned a quarterback-heavy first round. McShay had five quarterbacks going in the first round, with Texas A&M's DeMarvin Leal the only interior defensive lineman selected. None of those five quarterbacks included Daniels. So who were those five quarterbacks?
- Kedon Slovis: Pick 2 Detriot Lions
- Sam Howell: Pick 7 Philadelphia Eagles
- Spencer Rattler: Pick 11 Denver Broncos
- Malik Willis: Pick 15 Washington Football Team
- Desmond Ridder: Pick 16 Pittsburgh Steelers
The biggest critique of Daniels following the 2020 season could be that he played in only four games last season, following a torn ACL that held him out of the 2019 season.
Daniels showed improvement from his freshman season in 2018 at USC as the California product passed for 1,231 yards, 10 touchdowns and only two interceptions through four games with a 67.2 completion percentage, up from 59.5 his freshman year.
With a full season of continued production, Daniels will see his stock continue to rise. A potential run to the College Football Playoffs in 2021 will tremendously help raise the stocks of those draft-eligible Dawgs.
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