Mel Kiper has pair of Georgia Bulldogs among biggest NFL Combine winners
Only one school sent more players to the NFL Scouting Combine over the weekend than Georgia. The Bulldogs were well-represented out in Indianapolis, with 12 players among the top 300 draft prospects invited to compete.
With the Combine now complete, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. recently named a handful of players he felt helped their stock most at the event. Kiper gave 10 names; two of them were Bulldogs.
Nolan Smith had to be on the list after a brief but outstanding showing in the athletic portion of the event. Here’s what Kiper wrote about the former UGA outside linebacker:
Smith, who tore his right pectoral muscle in November and missed the rest of the season, did just 3 drills on the field Thursday night, but he was elite in each one. He ran a 4.39-second 40-yard dash and put up a 41.5-inch vertical and 10-foot-8 broad jump. At 238 pounds, he is now the second-heaviest player to run a sub-4.4 40 and have a 40-plus-inch vertical jump at the combine since 2006 (Vernon Davis is the other). Those are unreal numbers for an outside linebacker.
NFL teams covet edge rushers — it’s one of the positions they reach for most. Smith has all the physical tools teams want in an outside linebacker, but he had just 6.5 sacks over the past two seasons and too often got swallowed up by offensive tackles. He has to develop more pass-rush moves. I don’t have a Round 1 grade on Smith — he’s my No. 3 OLB — but I could see a team falling in love with him and taking him in the 15-25 range in April.
Plus, we’ve certainly seen NFL teams in the past show a willingness to overlook a bit of production if the measurables are there. Smith looked the part.
Kiper’s other big riser from Georgia is sort of in the opposite boat. Stetson Bennett might not have prototypical size, but all he’s done is win everything possible to close out his college career.
Bennett spoke earlier in the week and then took the field Saturday. Kiper wrote this on his performance:
I thought Bennett had an outstanding workout Saturday, both in the passing drills and in the athletic testing. Since he didn’t play in an all-star game after his season ended, this was the first time NFL teams have gotten to see him up close. He threw the ball very well. He ran a better-than-expected 4.67 40-yard dash.
Bennett’s college production isn’t in question; he completed 68.3% of his passes with 27 touchdowns and seven picks in 2022. The question is more about his frame, as he measured just under 5-foot-11 — a little taller than Bryce Young — and his arm strength. He throws the ball hard, but can he consistently connect on a deep out down the field? An arrest for public intoxication in January didn’t help his stock in the eyes of front-office execs. Bennett also will turn 26 as a rookie. Still, he’s in the Round 4 range on my board, and I think he’ll have a long NFL career.
The 2023 NFL Draft begins April 27.
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“He’ll never get drafted”. Everyone keeps on underestimating Stetson. No wonder he has a chip on his shoulder.
Then he’s in a no-lose spot. Success is the best revenge. Go out there and do it.
I would think Darnell put himself right back into the first-round discussion, too. Five Dawgs (again) in the first round is not out of the question – Jalen Carter, Broderick Jones, Kelee Ringo, Nolan Smith and Darnell Washington.
Agreed. Kinda strange though because the other UGA potential draftees all likely will be 3rd day picks. Do you see a 3rd rounder among the 7 left? Maybe Chris Smith, Beal, or Mc Intosh if they have a good pro day.
I think Chris has enough WOW kinda film for someone to pick him up Day 2. Other than that, probably not. Kenny may be the best pass-catching back in the draft, but the NFL just doesn’t value RBs like they used to.
Kelee Ringo is a physical freak but he played mediocre down the stretch this past season. He didn’t progress over the last 2 seasons like he should have.
Considering how many 3-stars Kirby and company have coached up and put in the NFL it isn’t a good look for a DB with raw athletic ability and measurables that Ringo has to not be an All-American, Thorpe Winner etc. Image DeAndre Baker or Eric Strokes with Ringo’s natural ability, size and speed?
I don’t see Ringo going in the 1st round unless somebody falls in love with his measurables, which could happen.
I don’t think Ringo is as undeveloped as you think. He’s a much different corner than Baker and Stokes but he’s not worse. Baker and Stokes weren’t even too similar either. Baker was a great zone corner with great instincts and reaction time. Stokes was a very good man corner who could bump and run or cover small shifty guys out of the slot but he didn’t do as well in zone schemes as he did in man. Kelee is a great cover 3 corner a la his new mentor Richard Sherman. I don’t think he would match up well in man with smaller shiftier WRs who are going to do a lot laterally, but he does well covering a deep third, not letting people behind him, and making plays on the ball.
To me, a lot of what UGA fans complained about with Ringo is both a misunderstanding of defensive schemes and what he is being asked to do, and things that are out of his control, like the rules being much more heavily skewed toward offensive production.
Agree. There were times when Starks misplayed his responsibility and made Kelee look bad trying to help him.
Wow, now that is some Grade A obfuscation
I nominate you as the official, resident Rube Goldberg commentator!
It amazes me how so many continue to doubt Stetson Bennett.