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Which Players Must Take Next Step?

Several key Bulldogs declared for the NFL Draft following one of the best seasons in program history, leaving their replacements wondering how to fill in next season.

Georgia is dealing with the negative side of winning a national title if there is one. Many key members of their title team have declared for the NFL Draft, which means their replacements have to fill the void next season.

While the Bulldogs have to deal with a mass exodus, they should have a chance to defend their title next season. After losing their defensive coordinator, several staffers, and an abundance of NFL talent, that sounds ludicrous.

However, that is the truth of the matter. Head coach Kirby Smart spent years building a successful foundation that ensures continued success even when factoring in departures.

They will need some key players to take the next step in their developments. The young talent has been masquerading in the shadows while their elder statesmen dominated the college football world, but it is now their time to step into the spotlight.

Kelee Ringo, CB

Throughout his redshirt freshman season, Ringo consistently improved and left some thinking he could be a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. He has the measurables to play in the NFL for a long time and put forth some strong outings in 2021.

His running mate, Derion Kendrick, officially declared for the NFL Draft this week. Kendrick transferred to Georgia over the offseason to become a first-round pick. He did enough to impress scouts, and therefore is off to the professional ranks.

Georgia will have to bring a young corner up to speed next season, which means they have to trust in Ringo to shut down one side of the field. Smart praised Ringo's work ethic on several occasions and indicated they have big plans for him.

However, praise doesn't always equal results. Ringo has a long offseason ahead of him, and he has to defend his reputation as one of the top returning corners in the SEC.

Adonai Mitchell, WR

Wide receiver George Pickens also declared for the NFL Draft following the national championship game. Granted, Georgia played without Pickens for most of the season, but there will still be an adjustment moving forward.

Several young wideouts project to have big seasons next year, but Mitchell figures to be the budding superstar in a similar mold to Pickens. 

Mitchell finished his true freshman season with arguably the biggest touchdown catch in Georgia Football history, with a 40-yard grab to put Georgia up with 8:09 left in the fourth quarter. 

Broderick Jones, OT

The staff was hoping Jones would make an early impact this year, but as the offseason progressed, it became clear senior Jamaree Salyer was going to be called on to begin the season at left tackle. Jones always had all the tools necessary to become a starting left tackle, but he needed a bit more time to grow. 

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He began to earn more reps during the middle of the season and even got a few starts when tackle Jamaree Salyer went out with injury. While his play was admirable, it didn't warrant an extended starting look. Though Jones continued to develop in limited spots throughout the regular season, remaining engaged. 

His hard work culminated in the national title game. Jones was a fixture in their rotation down the stretch against Alabama and played a solid game after an injury to Warren Ericsson forced Georgia to move Jamaree Salyer inside to right guard and Broderick Jones was tasked with playing the remaining three quarters against the nation's best defender in Will Anderson. 

Salyer will be heading to the pro ranks this offseason, meaning Jones will be thrust into starting action. His performance in the title game left many excited about the possibilities, though he still has an offseason of hard work ahead.

NFL Draft Declarations Update:

  • January 17th, 2022 - Georgia LB Channing Tindall Declares for the 2022 NFL Draft
  • January 17th, 2022 - Georgia DB William Poole will return to Athens
  • January 17th, 2022 - Georgia OL Justin Shaffer declares for the NFL Draft
  • January 17th, 2022 - Georgia LB Nolan Smith will return to Athens
  • January 16th, 2022 - Georgia DB Tykee Smith will return to Athens
  • January 16th, 2022 - Georgia P Jake Camarda declares for the 2022 NFL Draft
  • January 15th, 2022 - Georgia DB Derion Kendrick declares for the 2022 NFL Draft
  • January 15th, 2022- Georgia DL Devonte Wyatt declares for the 2022 NFL Draft
  • January 14th, 2022 - Georgia S Lewis Cine declares for the 2022 NFL Draft.
  • January 14th, 2022 - Georgia LB Nakobe Dean declares for the 2022 NFL Draft.
  • January 14th, 2022 - Georgia DL Travon Walker declares for the 2022 NFL Draft.
  • January 14th, 2022 - Georgia WR George Pickens declares for the 2022 NFL Draft
  • January 14th, 2022 - Georgia RB Zamir White declares for the 2022 NFL Draft.
  • January 12th, 2022 - Georgia RB James Cook declares for the 2022 NFL Draft.

TRANSFER PORTAL UPDATE

  • January 15th, 2022- Jalen Kimber will transfer to Florida
  • January 15th, 2022- Justin Robinson will transfer to Mississippi State
  • January 14th, 2022 - Lovasea Carroll has entered the NCAA Transfer Portal
  • January 13th, 2022 - Latavious Brini Announced he will be entering the NCAA Transfer Portal
  • January 12th, 2022 - Sources confirm Georgia DB Jalen Kimber is in the NCAA transfer portal
  • January 12th, 2022 - Georgia WR Justin Robinson has requested to enter the portal according to sources.
  • January 11th, 2022 - Georgia WR Jaylen Johnson has entered the NCAA Transfer Portal according to sources
  • January 11th, 2022 - Sources confirm DB, Ameer Speed has entered the NCAA Transfer portal

The conclusion of this season now sparks the conversation of players who are draft-eligible and could be leaving the program to chase their dreams of becoming an NFL player. It also creates the question of players who could possibly be returning for another season as a Georgia Bulldog, and with the additional year of eligibility granted by NCAA due to COVID-19, things are gonna get messy.

The following players listed below are ones who have obtained the required three years in college football and are eligible to enter the 2022 NFL draft:

  • Warren McClendon, OL, RS Sophomore
  • George Pickens, WR, Junior *Declared for NFL Draft
  • Nolan Smith, LB, Junior *Will return to Athens for another season
  • JT Daniels, QB, Junior
  • Kenny McIntosh, RB, Junior
  • Lewis Cine, S, Junior *Declared for NFL Draft
  • Nakobe Dean, LB, Junior *Declared for NFL Draft
  • Tykee Smith, DB, Junior *Returning to Athens
  • Travon Walker, DL, Junior *Declared for NFL Draft
  • Warren Ericcson, OL, Junior
  • John Fitzpatrick, TE, Senior
  • James Cook, RB, Senior *Declared for NFL Draft
  • Zamir White, RB, Senior *Declared for NFL Draft
  • Quay Walker, LB, Senior
  • Kearis Jackson, WR, Senior
  • Ameer Speed, DB, Senior *Entered Transfer Portal
  • Jaylen Johnson, WR, Senior *Entered Transfer Portal
  • Derion Kendrick, DB, Senior *Declared for the NFL Draft
  • Stetson Bennett, QB, Senior
  • Christopher Smith, DB, Senior *Returning to Georgia for 2022
  • William Poole, DB, Senior *Will return to Athens for another season
  • Robert Beal Jr, LB, Senior
  • Latavious Brini, DB, Senior *Entered Transfer Portal
  • Channing Tindall, LB, Senior *Declared for the NFL Draft
  • Justin Shaffer, OL, Senior *Declared for the NFL Draft
  • Jamaree Salyer, OL, Senior *Declared for the NFL Draft
  • Jake Carmada, P, Senior *Declared for the NFL Draft
  • Julian Rochester, DL, Senior
  • Devonte Wyatt, DL, Senior *Declared for NFL Draft
  • Jordan Davis, DL, Senior

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