Football is an interesting sport in that role players in college can become stars during their NFL careers, while collegiate stars may be out of the league after their rookie contract expires.
Including newly-drafted receiver Isaiah McKenzie, there are 45 former Georgia players in the NFL. Many former Bulldogs have made a name for themselves on Sundays, with a few establishing themselves among the very best at their position. A consistent gripe for Georgia fans with Mark Richt was that he never seemed to get the most out of the level of talent that was on the roster.
That gripe seemed to gain a bit of merit when some low-round draft picks like Rashad Jones and Geno Atkins became prominent players in the NFL. So, would a team full of former Bulldogs fare any better in the NFL than they did while in Athens? That’s precisely the question that Nathan Berg of The Red & Black sought to answer.
In a recent piece, Berg explained the parameters for his experiment. Choosing the Bengals as his base team, he then swapped out the rest of the roster for the best Georgia players in the NFL at each position, turned off fatigue so those players wouldn’t come out of the game and made all other factors as close to a pro game as possible.
Here is the lineup he assembled.
QB – Matthew Stafford (Years at Georgia: 2006-08)
RB – Todd Gurley (2012-14)
WR – A.J. Green (2008-10)
WR – Malcolm Mitchell (2011-15)
WR – Chris Conley (2011-14)
TE – Benjamin Watson (2001-03)
LT – Cordy Glenn (2008-11)
LG – Clint Boling (2006-10)
C – David Andrews (2011-14)
RG – Ben Jones (2008-11)
RT – John Theus (2012-15)
Reserves: Keith Marshall, Marlon Brown, Orson Charles
RE – Justin Houston (2008-10)
DT – Abry Jones (2009-12)
DT – Geno Atkins (2007-09)
LE – Charles Johnson (2004-06)
ROLB – Thomas Davis (2001-04)
MLB – Alec Ogletree (2010-12)
LOLB – Leonard Floyd (2013-15)
CB – Brandon Boykin (2008-11)
CB – Tim Jennings (2002-05)
SS – Reshad Jones (2007-09)
FS – Shawn Williams (2009-12)
Reserves: Ramik Wilson, Chris Mayes, Amarlo Herrera, Demarcus Dobbs, Dannell Ellerbe, Jarvis Jones, Bacarri Rambo, Damian Swann
KR: Todd Gurley (2012-14)
PR: Keith Marshall (2012-15)
K: Blair Walsh (2008-11)
P: Drew Butler (2007-11)
Each of the players that comprised Berg’s team should be familiar to Georgia and NFL fans alike. He simulated a full season with 15-minute quarters and the difficulty set to All-Madden.
After the first half of the season, the pro Bulldogs were 4-4 and averaging just over 24 points per game while giving up nearly 29 points per game on defense. In position to make a second-half run, the team instead wilted down the stretch, ended with a 7-9 record and missing the playoffs. Despite raising their offensive average to 29 points, the defense slipped and allowed about 31 points per contest.
The defense must have been the problem because some of the individual stats were quite impressive. Stafford threw for 4,166 yards with 33 touchdowns and 21 interceptions; Gurley ran for 1,467 yards and eight touchdowns; Green gained 1,302 yards with 14 touchdowns; Ogletree recorded 142 tackles and Houston racked up a whopping 19 sacks.
This was ultimately nothing more than an entertaining exercise, but it resulted in a familiar realization. The individual pieces performed better than the team as a whole, which is something Georgia fans have seen play out far too often.