(This post originally appeared at NFLDraftMonsters.com. Be sure to check both sites for my latest posts)
The Georgia Bulldogs rattled off ten consecutive wins last season to secure a place in the SEC Championship Game. After a loss to LSU, the Dawgs dropped out of BCS bowl consideration and wound up losing the Outback Bowl to Michigan State. That bitter disappointment was followed by an offseason marred by arrests and off-field shenanigans. Still Mark Richt – a man whose first Google search auto-complete result is “has lost control” – returns to his seemingly perpetual hot seat for another season. Fortunately for Richt his squad is loaded with NFL-caliber talent. Unfortunately several of them will be sitting out games early in the season. Here’s a look at Georgia’s top draft eligible prospects for 2012. Underclassmen are designated with an asterisk…
Cornelius Washington DE 6’4 268 – Washington was the nation’s third rated defensive end coming out of high school in 2008. In 2009, as a redshirt freshman, he tallied four sacks and five tackles for loss. After an underwhelming sophomore season, Washington rebounded last season to start six of the twelve games in which he appeared, and account for five sacks and six tackles for loss. A tall athlete with a strong frame, Washington shows good speed for his size. He does a fair job of using his hands to keep tackles off of him, and uses a good variety of pass rush moves. Washington keeps playing to the whistle and looks good in pursuit. He has the look of a potential starter, so it will be interesting to see if he gets more playing time this season. Of course, he’ll need to steer clear of off-the-field issues like last October’s arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol.
John Jenkins DT 6’3 351 – Jenkins came to Georgia by way of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, where he played with Indianapolis Colts running back Vick Ballard, and occasionally got carries as a short yardage runner himself. His first season with the Bulldogs in 2011 was a mixed bag. Jenkins dominated Georgia Tech’s undersized offensive line, and turned in a strong performance against Mississippi State. But he was virtually invisible in games against Tennessee and South Carolina. All told he finished the season with three sacks, six tackles for loss, a forced fumble and an interception in a bowl game loss to Michigan State. Jenkins carries his weight well for a man his size, but he doesn’t look as strong as his frame suggests he should be. He mostly relies on a bull rush and stuffing the run appears to be his strong suit. Taking those factors into consideration it seems that Jenkins will be most appealing to 3-4 teams looking for a nose tackle.
Bacarri Rambo FS 6’0 210 – Rambo is a ball hawking centerfielder type of safety who had eight interceptions last season, and 13 in his three-year college career. He’s also returned three INTs for touchdowns, broken up 16 other passes, and forced three fumbles. He isn’t a great tackler, and sometimes gets caught looking into the backfield, but he is a playmaker who creates turnovers and has good range. Rambo will start the year on a four game suspension after apparently chowing on a brownie loaded with wacky tabacky last spring. Why four games? Well, because that wasn’t Rambo’s first rodeo. He’d been suspended for the opener last season for an apparent substance-related infraction. If he can put the pot behind him, his size and ball skills will make him a solid mid round prospect.
Sanders Commings CB 6’2 216 – Commings was sentenced to probation and counseling back in March after pleading guilty to simple battery and disorderly conduct. The charges stemmed from a domestic violence incident in January, yet somehow Commings was suspended for fewer games than Rambo was given for eating pot brownies. He’ll rejoin the Dawgs for a September 15th matchup with Florida Atlantic, after missing games against Buffalo and Missouri. Commings is a gifted athlete who was drafted to play baseball for the Arizona Diamondbacks out of high school. He opted for football and redshirted for Georgia in 2008; but by his sophomore year of 2010 he was starting. Commings has five career interceptions and has broken up 15 other passes. He’s a tall, athletic cover man who lines up all over the field, usually several yards off the receiver. Commings is an inconsistent tackler who doesn’t always appear interested. At times, he’ll slow up before the whistle and end up standing with his hands on his hips. NFL teams will want to see the version of Commings who gets his hands on the ball and flies in to make a tackle in the backfield, on a more regular basis this season. Once he gets on the field, that is.
Alec Ogletree* ILB 6’3 232 – Still another Bulldog defender facing a multi-game suspension, Ogletree is expected to miss the team’s first four games after a reported drug violation. Like Rambo, Ogletree has been suspended before. He had previously missed the first game of his freshman season after being charged with misdemeanor theft. A high school safety, Ogletree moved to linebacker last year where he accounted for three sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles. He uses his safety skills to cover tight ends and slot receivers, and can flow to the ball carrier on run plays. He does a good job locating the ball in the air and on the ground, and is able to shed blockers to make tackles. And of course, Ogletree possesses terrific height and athleticism for the position. Whether he chooses to leave school after the season or stay for his senior year, Ogletree’s off-the-field-issues will no doubt impact his stock; and questions about those suspensions will abound in the months leading up to whichever draft he enters.
Tavarres King WR 6’1 200 – King is a fifth year senior coming off a 2011 season in which he gained 705 receiving touchdowns and scored eight touchdowns. In his career with the Bulldogs, King has averaged nearly 18 yards per reception – a fitting number for a player with estimated 4.4 second speed in the 40 yard dash. King exploded for 205 yards (including an 80 yard touchdown catch) in the team’s bowl game loss to Michigan State; but it was just the third time in 42 career games that he had broken 100 yards. King has also caught three or fewer passes in 34 of those games, and has never caught more than six in a single contest. With star tight end Orson Charles gone to the NFL, King will almost certainly see more opportunities this season to capitalize on his natural abilities.
Jarvis Jones* OLB 6’3 241 – Jones began his college career at USC, but after team doctors wouldn’t clear him for spring practice following a neck injury, he transferred to Georgia. After sitting out the 2010 campaign, Jones exploded for 13.5 sacks, 19.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. Rather than enter the draft as a redshirt sophomore, he opted to return to the Bulldogs for his junior season. Jones is a pure pass rusher who relies almost entirely on his speed. He’s great at flying around lumbering offensive linemen, and he works hard on every play; but when he does get blocked he has some trouble shaking free. Jones is a tremendous athlete with long arms to disrupt passing lanes. He’s a sure tackler and he explodes through the ball carrier. NFL teams would probably like to see Jones bulk up and mix up his pass rush moves a bit more. Still, his combination of production, athleticism and effort make him a surefire first round pick.
Aaron Murray* QB 6’1 210 – Murray was a highly touted high school recruit in 2009 who took a redshirt season in his first year at Georgia. In his first collegiate start he threw for three touchdowns in a blowout win over Louisiana-Lafayette. He ended the season having completed 61.1% of his passes for over 3000 yards, 24 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. Perhaps more impressive was his average of nearly nine yards per pass attempt. Last season Murray surpassed 3000 yards again and threw for 35 touchdowns, but he was unable to lead a talented Georgia team to wins over ranked opponents like Boise State, Michigan State and LSU. As a result, the team’s 10 game winning streak was sandwiched between two, two-game losing streaks and the season ended on a sour note. Murray is able to get zip on his throws despite lacking size, and he possesses a tough-as-nails demeanor. With guys like Orson Charles, Isaiah Crowell, Cordy Glenn and Ben Jones gone, Murray will have his work cut out for him. He’ll be breaking in several new offensive starters while some of the Dawgs’ best defensive players sit out with suspensions. If he can overcome those obstacles to get his team back into the SEC Championship Game, this could be his final season in Athens. Though with his small frame and two years of eligibility remaining, he’s more likely to play out this season and next before testing the NFL waters.
Also keep an eye on: Branden Smith CB 5’11 182, Abry Jones DE 6’3 308, Kwame Geathers* DT 6’6 355, Richard Samuel FB 6’2 236, Christian Robinson ILB 6’2 235, Shawn Williams SS 6’1 220, Marlon Brown WR 6’5 222