Holyfield, Hardman generating NFL draft buzz

As many as three outgoing Georgia football players have been projected as first-round NFL Draft picks by different analysts at different times.

But there’s always one Bulldog on the first-round list — Deandre Baker.

That didn’t change on Monday when the Georgia Thorpe Award winner surfaced as the No. 20 overall pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Mel Kiper’s latest first-round mock draft on the ESPN Insider pay site.

RELATED: Georgia opens with 10 on NFL Draft boards

Kiper has Baker as his second-highest rated cornerback in the draft behind LSU’s Greedy Williams, who he forecasts will go to Denver at No. 10.

Earlier this month, NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter opened eyes when he projected both Baker and tailback Elijah Holyfield to be selected in the first round.

Reuter, in a Feb. 5 three-round NFL mock draft, had four Bulldogs listed:

Deandre Baker, No. 24 overall, Oakland

Elijah Holyfield, No. 30 overall, Green Bay

Riley Ridley, No. 35 overall, Oakland

Isaac Nauta, No. 62 overall, New Orleans

Ridley was at one point projected as high as the first round — at No. 32 — by NFL.com writer Daniel Jeremiah.

Jeremiah and fellow NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein recently penned an article listing which one player each team should keep an eye on.

The Baltimore Ravens were advised to keep an eye on speedy Georgia receiver Mecole Hardman, as “the buzz is starting to build in personnel circles.”

The San Francisco 49ers, meanwhile, should watch for Ridley, according to the story:

“The Niners need another big target at wide receiver with size and toughness for Kyle Shanahan’s scheme. Ridley’s college production was just OK, but there were plenty of mouths to feed in the Georgia offense. Ridley might be a fit for San Francisco as a Day 2 option, provided he shows ball-tracking ability and some route acumen in Indianapolis.”

Projections from one analyst to another vary, as they each do their own evaluations and rely on different NFL sources.

Kiper, for example, doesn’t have Holyfield, Ridley or Nauta ranked in the top 10 at their respective positions in the upcoming draft.

It’s all talk for now, and NFL Draft projections are sure to get a thorough shaking up after the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

The combine testing runs from March 1-4. Georgia will have eight players at the combine, seven taking part in on-field testing.

Outside linebacker D’Andre Walker had sports hernia surgery on Jan. 16 in Birmingham, Ala., and is rehabilitating.

Walker hopes to be healthy enough to take part in the Bulldogs Pro Day for NFL scouts on March 20.

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