Georgia’s Tykee Smith, Daijun Edwards among Senior Bowl standouts

Georgia defensive back Tykee Smith (23) makes an interception against Vanderbilt wide receiver Junior Sherrill, right, in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Georgia defensive back Tykee Smith (23) makes an interception against Vanderbilt wide receiver Junior Sherrill, right, in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

MOBILE, Ala. — Georgia players had a mostly successful week of practices at the Senior Bowl, and one defensive back finished with an exclamation point.

Safety Tykee Smith broke up multiple passes Thursday and intercepted former Tulane quarterback Michael Pratt. A transfer from West Virginia, Smith spent his final three seasons in Athens. He grabbed four interceptions and had two sacks in his final collegiate campaign.

“I came out here to show I can play high safety and nickel, show my versatility,” Smith said Wednesday. “I think at the next level, I’ll be a high safety with experience at nickel. So if I need to play there I can, too.”

Smith isn’t the only former Bulldog advertising a well-rounded skill set. Running back Daijun Edwards was in Mobile after a four-year run at Georgia. He was the team’s leading rusher this past season, gaining 881 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also had 20 receptions for 197 yards (a 9.9 yards-per-catch average).

Edwards, asked what he wants evaluators to take from his Senior Bowl practices: “How versatile I am. I can do anything out of the backfield.” Edwards and fellow Bulldog Kendall Milton are expected to be drafted, which would mark the second time in three years that Georgia has had multiple backs selected in a draft (James Cook and Zamir White were drafted in 2022).

Georgia was well-represented in southern Alabama, also having receiver Ladd McConkey, defensive back Javon Bullard and long snapper William Mote at the Senior Bowl. Yes, a long snapper.

No long snappers were selected across the past two drafts and only eight long snappers have been drafted dating to 2015. And only once in that span – 2021 – were multiple long snappers selected. But Mote saw the value in coming to Mobile and believes he’ll have a chance to join the exclusive list of drafted long snappers before him.

“As a snapper, if you come out here and represent yourself well and do well, prove you can step into that position,” Mote said. “It’s kind of a hard position for a rookie to come into, there’s a lot to learn. It’s a whole different scheme than college football. The Senior Bowl definitely helps with that, I believe.”

Notes:

- While the quarterbacks were hyped entering the week, none of them consistently stood out. Bo Nix (Oregon) and Michael Penix Jr. (Washington) were the clear top two who are battling to go within the first 50 picks. Others, such as Spencer Rattler (South Carolina), Sam Hartman (Notre Dame) and Joe Milton (Tennessee), are trying to bolster their Day 3 stock.

Milton has one of the stronger arms that anyone will see, but accuracy and consistency eluded him during his college career. Still, the NFL likes elite physical traits, and Milton has one in his arm strength. Perhaps a team with a veteran quarterback could take Milton later and see if there’s untapped upside.

“My personality, my arm strength, my arm talent, the way I run the ball,” Milton said of his sales pitch to teams. “I feel like as a defender, you have to have the right mindset to come tackle me. I feel like everything I do, other than that, is just me being me.”

- It’s another good year to need a receiver. The Falcons seem likely to select one early to pair with Drake London and help their quarterback. Roman Wilson (Michigan) and Ricky Pearsall (Florida) were two big winners throughout the week, showing crisp route running and making some acrobatic catches.

McConkey performed well, too, and should be a second rounder. South Carolina’s Xavier Leggette had only one season of superb production, but has ideal size (6-foot-3, 227 pounds) and flashes the ability to be dynamic.

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