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Film Don't Lie: Georgia has 4 Dogs Leading the Nation's Top Defense

Jordan Davis, Adam Anderson, Nakobe Dean and Lewis Cine headline the Bulldogs elite defense
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Through five weeks, the Georgia Bulldogs sit atop the FBS defensive throne due to a mixture of elite talent and coaching. They are first in numerous comprehensive statistics and have a substantial gap between the respective second-ranked team, for example; points allowed (UGA: 4.6 vs. IOWA: 11.6), yards per game (UGA: 178.6 vs. ISU: 233.6), yards per play (UGA: 3.34 vs. ISU: 4.07) and touchdowns allowed (UGA: 2 vs. CLEM: 6).

Georgia defensive coordinator, Dan Lanning, is one of the best in the game and is maximizing his highly recruited talent, littered with five and four-star recruits. Lanning has experienced dogs at each level of his defense: Jordan Davis (3-star, SR) and Jalen Carter (5-star, SO) man the middle of the trenches with Adam Anderson (5-star, SR), Travon Walker (5-star, JR) and Nolan Smith (5-star, JR) hunting the edges. There's Nakobe Dean (4-star, JR), Quay Walker (4-star, SR) and Channing Tindall (4-star, SR) as the 2nd level linebackers, and finally, Derion Kendrick (5-star, SR), Ameer Speed (4-star, SR) and Lewis Cine (4-star, JR) highlight the secondary.

While NFL teams could do worse than simply opting to draft the entire eligible class of Georgia's defense, four defenders have stood out in 2020 and 2021. These prospects each have some elite traits and project to be drafted in the first or second round come April 2022.

Jordan Davis, DT #99, 6'6, 260

Click Here: Jordan Davis Scouting Report

Davis is the engine of the Bulldogs defense, the immovable object at nose tackle who has helped lead the 4th best rush defense in the nation, which is holding teams to just 68.6 yards per game (4th), 2.29 yards per rush (4th) and zero rushing touchdowns (T-1st).

He's in the mold of 2019 first-round pick (17th overall), Clemson's Dexter Lawrence, who also sports elite size, length and athletic ability for a nose tackle. Davis' stats are a perfect example of why box scores cannot solely predict a player's success and talent level.

With just ten tackles and 1.5 sacks on the year and 59 tackles with five sacks over the past three years, one might believe that Davis is overrated and not worthy of his first-round projection. That would be wrong to assume, and his film shows how he makes his teammates better while not garnering much in the box-score for himself through his dominance versus double teams.

What Davis does to rushing offenses is not normal, showing the discipline to hold the point-of-attack when asked to control his gap (or two) and the violent hands to split doubles and create penetration. Furthermore, Davis makes the occasional splash play in the backfield because of how quickly he can get off the ball. With an explosive first step, Davis can gain an instant advantage on his opponent and make them pay for subtle mistakes.

Finally, a swing skill for Davis will be how much value he can add in the passing game. Georgia often takes him off the field on 3rd downs, but Davis possesses the get-off (occasionally), length and power necessary to create an interior pass-rushing machine. 

If Davis can gain consistency in this aspect of the game, expect his stock to rise even further and Davis' name to be mentioned in the Vita Vea level of elite defensive tackles. With a high floor as a run-dominating nose tackle and a potentially high ceiling due to his elite athletic gifts, Davis is one of the best bets in the 2022 class.

Adam Anderson, OLB #19, 6'5, 230

Click Here; Adam Anderson Scouting Report

Next on the list is the #1 outside-linebacker recruit in the nation - Anderson is a pass-rushing phenom. His ability to get after the QB has helped fuel the best pass defense in the nation, as the Bulldogs are allowing just 110 passing yards per game (1st) and a stingy 4.7 yards per attempt (1st). In 2021, Anderson already has four sacks through five games and has tallied an absurd 51 pressures on just 197 pass-rush snaps over his past three seasons.

Opposing quarterbacks are often under siege by Anderson, who combines elite get-off and bend with a nasty dip-rip move or speed-to-power conversion.

In addition, Anderson has been a nuclear weapon for Lanning's defensive game plan due to his closing burst when executing twists.

Anderson has already proved he can rush the passer with the best of them, and his swing skill will be how he improves his run defense to become a full-time starter. His athletic gifts spark first-round interest, but how many teams are going to draft a designated pass rusher that early? Weighing an unofficial 230lbs doesn't help his case, and neither does continuing his role in 2021 as primarily a 3rd down weapon, behind starter Nolan Smith.

It's not that Anderson is disinterested in the run - take his downfield pursuit here versus a read option as an example of his motor.

However, he needs to show a better feel versus the run, which is understandably iffy due to his lack of experience in those situations.

Anderson will be a freaky EDGE talent to watch for years with more reps versus the run and adding functional strength and muscle to his physique. His projection is eerily similar to Bud Dupree and Brian Burns, too, other athletic freaks who have panned out pretty damn well as 3-4 outside linebackers.

Nakobe Dean, LB #17, 6'0, 225

Click Here: Nakobe Dean Scouting Report

Georgia supplies a plethora of linebackers to highlight, but Dean is the communicator and most consistent threat to offenses. He more than makes up for what he lacks in size in physical toughness, speed, and nuance. After tallying 71 tackles and 1.5 sacks as a sophomore, Dean is on a good pace this year with 18 tackles and 3.5 sacks through five weeks.

The first thing that flies off the screen is Dean's sideline-to-sideline speed. Once he makes his read, Dean GOES and covers ground with the best of them.

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With NFL offenses looking to throw the ball more and more often, teams can count on Dean to make an impact on passing downs as well. His elite trait is his blitzing ability, displaying stellar execution of Lanning's scheme and the bend to finish sacks.

Dean can blitz from the 2nd level, as shown above, or even align on the line of scrimmage, and he displays a dangerous power stance which helps him gain an advantage versus offensive linemen. 

For Dean to become a perennial Pro Bowl talent, he will need to do more than just blitz and refine his coverage skills. He has the athleticism and instincts to profit in this area and needs more experience and coaching.

Overall, expect Dean to contend for the top linebacker spot and should not fall out of the top three at his position due to his athletic traits, motor and versatility. Dean has shades of Colts linebacker Darius Leonard with how his undersized frame packs a powerful punch, and his penchant for sacks makes him a playmaker.

 

Lewis Cine, DS #16, 6'1, 200

Click Here: Lewis Cine Scouting Report

Last but certainly not least is Cine, the best member of an athletic secondary and a ferocious headhunter. Both come from a major program, are borderline elite athletes, set a physical tone with their penchant for big hits, are best as strong safeties playing downhill from a 2-high alignment, and cover tight ends in man coverage. Cine has tallied 19 tackles, five pass breakups and one interception in 2021 and shows flashes of Denver Broncos safety Kareem Jackson.

Thus, Cine is an incredibly aggressive player who allows defensive coordinators to play with lightbox numbers because they can rely on their strong safety to fly downhill and make open-field tackles.

Furthermore, Cine's closing speed and quick trigger allow him to succeed in man coverage, where he's been able to keep up with premier athletes like Kyle Pitts. 

Like Jackson, Cine has his limitations - he's largely a reactive player rather than an instinctual one. He needs to see the play happen before him and then react, rather than feeling where the ball is headed and being able to attack ahead of time. Coupling that fact with his extremely aggressive nature has left Cine vulnerable as he tends to bite on fakes. 

While it's rare for a player to develop better instincts, Cine's swing skill will be to find a better balance for his antsy play style. If so, Cine can have a Pro Bowl impact at safety like Kareem Jackson, but if not, Cine could end up like another former Texan, DJ Swearinger.

While there are numerous other Bulldog defenders worthy of praise, Davis, Anderson, Dean and Cine will likely hear their names called first come draft day because of their elite traits and proven production. This defense has a chance to be historically great, and NFL teams should keep their eyes glued to the Georgia program.

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