Georgia could have four first-rounders as NFL scouting combine set to open

It could turn into the Year of The Dawg at the 2022 NFL scouting combine.

Several of the 14 Georgia players, including Butkus Award winner Nakobe Dean, will set out to impress scouts Tuesday through Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Georgia could have four defenders selected in the first round of the draft in Dean, Jordan Davis, Travon Walker and Devonte Wyatt.

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“Yeah, there’s a bunch of them, man,” NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said. “I have everything kind of set up to give you a peek behind the curtain. Everything is set up in my Excel sheet. When I get to Georgia, I have to like really scroll to get to all my notes because there’s so many of those guys.”

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Dean is one of the more intriguing prospects. He reminds Jeremiah of Jonathan Vilma as a shorter linebacker prospect. Dean is listed at 6-foot and 225 pounds. Vilma was 6-1 and 230 pounds from Miami in 2004. Vilma played 10 seasons for the Jets and Saints and was a three-time Pro Bowler.

“I remember Vilma when he first came into the league, and I remember during the scouting process,” said Jeremiah, a former scout with the Ravens. “Something that people had concerns about was his size, (but) the guy was just dripping with instincts.”

Vilma went 12th overall to the Jets.

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“Everything was so natural to him,” Jeremiah said. “He saw things and was two steps ahead of everybody on the field. That’s who Nakobe Dean reminds me of. When you talk about the center of your defense and having that intelligence, the toughness and the leadership. He’s got all that stuff.”

Dean will be asked to play in space.

“I think he’s outstanding,” Jeremiah said. “He can cover. You see him mirror backs. He’s a real crafty blitzer. In my notes, I wrote this guy does everything fast. There’s nothing he does that isn’t fast. He’s probably the greatest disparity in terms of how I have a guy graded and where I have him going because I can’t get a feel for where he’s going to go in the first round.”

Some teams are lukewarm on Dean because of his height.

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“Teams are obsessed with trying to find the longer, rangier, off-the-ball linebackers,” Jeremiah said. “They’re looking for (Colts’) Darius Leonard (6-2). They’re looking for (49ers’) Fred Warner (6-3). I think some of that kind of dings Nakobe because he doesn’t have that size and length. I’m curious to see where he goes, but I’ll bet on him. I think he’s going to be a really, really good player.”

Walker, a former Georgia defensive tackle, is also a top prospect.

“Travon Walker is one that I think I upset the majority of the New York Giants fan base by giving him to the Giants in this latest mock draft,” Jeremiah said. “And I wasn’t trolling. I legit think this guy has got a chance to go all the way up there.”

The Giants hold the fifth and seventh overall picks.

“He’s going to go to the combine,” Jeremiah said. “He’s going to be 6 feet, 5 inches, anywhere from 265 to 275 pounds. He’s probably going to have close to 35-inch arms, which is ridiculously long, and he’s going to run in the low 4.6s. So literally – he’s a special, special athlete.”

Walker’s ability to put pressure on quarterbacks from the interior of the defensive line intrigues NFL teams.

“When you watch him on tape at Georgia, I know some people will jump to the pressure percentage numbers, the pass production, and be a little disappointed, but when you study him and you see how tight his alignments were,” Jeremiah said. “What he’s asked to do. They don’t loosen him up on the edge and just let him go.”

Pass rushers are highly coveted in the draft.

“I think an NFL team is going to give him that opportunity,” Jeremiah said. “I think you’re going to see a really, really good player. But this is somebody, when you’re talking to GMs and personnel directors on an almost daily basis, this guy’s name comes up almost every day.

“This guy has got a lot of love around the league. He’s going to go a lot higher than people anticipate.”

Scouts have film of Walker dropping into coverage against Florida and tipping a ball in the air.

“It gets picked off,” Jeremiah said. “It’s pretty incredible.”

Davis, the 6-6, 340-pounder, has to prove to NFL teams that he can stay on the field on third down. Davis is considered a polarizing player around the league.

“Obviously, he’s a giant,” Jeremiah said. “He’s enormous. He’s really got some knockback to him as a pass rusher. He’s got some sneaky quickness to go along with that. He’s got range against the run.”

There are knocks on Davis.

“How much can you play him and how big is his gas tank?” Jeremiah said. “In that first Alabama game, that bothered some folks because you thought he got really gassed out. They went with a little tempo, kept him on the field and gassed him out.”

Davis is projected to go between picks 10-20.

“He’s such a unique player because of the size,” Jeremiah said. “He’s an interesting one.”

Wyatt is another big tackle prospect at 6-3 and 315 pounds.

“He’s going to put on a show at the combine,” Jeremiah said. “He is a freak. He was dominant at the Senior Bowl. Super, super twitched up. He’s going to be 300-plus pounds, and he’s going to run in probably like the 4.8s or something like that.

“He’s going to go flying up the boards because everyone is trying to find interior pass rushers.”

Linebacker Quay Walker, safety Lewis Cine, cornerback Derion Kendrick, wide receiver George Pickens, linebacker Channing Tindall, punter Jake Camarda, running back James Cook, offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer, offensive lineman Justin Shaffer and running back Zamir White are the other Bulldogs invited to the combine.

“Quay Walker can play off the ball, can play over the tight end, real physical,” Jeremiah said. “He’s got tremendous range. I think he probably goes in the second round.”

Cine can fit in to most teams’ defensive backfields.

“Cine is just a real physical safety,” Jeremiah said. “He’s a great run-support player. Plays with a lot of speed. ... there are some times he gets beat by tight ends, and that’s a little bit of the concern there, but you love the temperament and how he plays.”

Credit: Charlie Neibergall

Credit: Charlie Neibergall

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