More on ex-Georgia Bulldogs at the NFL Scouting Combine

INDIANAPOLIS — Two projected first-round NFL draft picks made the case Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine that Georgia’s biggest offseason acquisition has come in the coaching ranks.

Former Alabama cornerbacks Kool-Aid McKinstry and Terrion Arnold shared Thursday how new UGA safeties coach and co-defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson was instrumental in their development.

“He meant everything,” said Arnold, who like McKinstry was a first-team All-American selection for the Crimson Tide last season.

“T-Rob is very real, he’s a player-first coach. Him being able to help my game, and the growth and significance of it, you saw it on film.”

Robinson, a former All-SEC safety at Auburn, oversaw the Alabama secondary and became involved in the play calling last season, helping to oversee a unit that prevented Georgia QB Carson Beck from throwing a TD pass in the Tide’s 27-24 SEC Championship game win over the Bulldogs.

Smart quickly hired Robinson away from Alabama after Nick Saban retired and elevated him to co-defensive coordinator on the Georgia staff, where he’ll replace his one-time mentor, Will Muschamp.

The Bulldogs tentatively are scheduled to start spring drills March 12 and will look to reload a secondary that’s losing three starters.

Ex-Alabama linebacker Dallas Turner, another Tide All-American and projected first-round NFL draft pick, shared earlier this week at the combine how instrumental Robinson was to the team’s preparation.

“He brought a lot of juice and swagger, I’ll say that,” Turner said during his combine podium interview at the Indiana Convention Center. “He held everyone accountable and made sure everybody was playing to their highest standard every single day of practice, and that transitioned to the games.”

The addition of Robinson to the Georgia staff is another reason to believe Kirby Smart benefited more from Saban’s retirement than anyone, outside of the fact that Saban was the only coach to beat Smart over the 44 games (42-2) Georgia played the past three seasons.

Best wideouts

McKinstry rattled off the toughest receivers he faced in his three years at Alabama, and all were former Georgia players.

“George Pickens, A.D. Mitchell and Jermaine Burton,” McKinstry said. “Pickens just doesn’t let any ball hit the ground. No matter how good you have him covered, he’s always going to find a way to come up with the grab.”

Bowers self-assessment

There’s not much not to like about ex-Georgia tight end Brock Bowers, but the projected first-round pick had no issue sharing where he needs the most work.

“I think one of the things I can improve upon is my secondary action on my blocking,” Bowers said. “Getting engaged with somebody after they spin away, getting back on them and re-engaging to sustain my block.”

As for Bowers’ strengths, he exhibited many en route to two-time All-American status and a likely future College Football Hall of Fame spot.

“I like catching the ball in the flats and making things happen,” Bowers said when asked about his strengths. I’d say running after the catch; I think I do a pretty good job with that.”

More on Bowers

Josh Newton is more than a year removed from Georgia’s 65-7 win over TCU in the College Football Playoff Championship game, and Bowers’ seven-catch, 152-yard performance against Newton and his teammates, but the gifted cornerback remains no less impressed with UGA’s projected first-round tight end.

“I see him like a Travis Kelce whenever he gets his feet wet in the NFL,” Newton said. “He’s big and for his size he moves elusively. He’s fast and smooth, with great hands. A couple times in that championship game, he had reverse sweeps, too. He’s very special.”

Bullard’s gives credit for his versatility

Former Bulldogs defensive back Javon Bullard improved his draft value by showing his ability to play different positions in the secondary, a concept he doubled down on Thursday.

“Huge shout-out to coach (Muschamp) and coach Smart for drilling it into our heads that your versatility is your value,” said Bullard, who started at the nickel (star) and safety positions at Georgia.

“Just knowing we played every position on the back end, and every position in the secondary, knowing you had to do that at Georgia to be successful, It paid dividends for me and I’m grateful.”

Getting in with Kirby

Ex-Georgia cornerback Kamari Lassiter emerged as one of Smart’s favorite players the past two seasons. He was selected last summer to represent the team at SEC Media Days and was a frequent representative at other interviews.

Lassiter, asked what advice he would give players who want to get in good with Smart, provided sound direction that applies well to most any athlete.

“Do your job, be accountable, earn the respect of your teammates and coaches and everything will fall in place,” said Lassiter, who is expected to be selected in the first or second round.

“Every day is not going to be easy, some days will be better than others. You just keep putting the work in and anything is possible.”