NFL Draft Preview: Georgia vs. South Carolina
Georgia vs. South Carolina
The SEC has been an NFL factory for years now, and there will be plenty of teams to preview in coming weeks from the conference. This week, the big match-up of Georgia vs. South Carolina boasts two teams that lost some major talent that was drafted in 2014. Georgia losing All-American QB Aaron Murray has brought a change to their offense while South Carolina losing stud DE Jadeveon Clowney has appeared to hinder them defensively. There are plenty of prospects to know and track in this one.
The highlight of this game are the top RBs for each squad. Both are potential first round picks and almost definitely Top 100 picks that will declare early for the NFL Draft.
Todd Gurley, Georgia
Gurley is the cream of the crop at RB and might be the best RB prospect since Trent Richardson. The combination of his 6’1 226 pound frame with light nimble feet and very good speed to boot puts him in the upper echelon of college RBs. Georgia has utilized him in a number of ways, both between the tackles, outside the tackles, and even as a receiver (he had 37 receptions as a sophomore). There have only been a handful of plays in his career that one defender has tackled Todd Gurley one on one as his power and quickness make him an incredibly difficult to bring down. The only major fear about Gurley is his health as he not only has an upright running style but very straight-legged style. Shots to the leg can often lead to knee and ankle injuries. He could easily be a Top 15 pick if he stays healthy this season and could have an Adrian Peterson type impact on the NFL.
Mike Davis, South Carolina
Playing on South Carolina, Mike Davis is often overlooked but is one of the most balanced RBs in the entire country. At 5’9 223 pounds, Davis has the bulk to hold up between the tackles but his skillset works more outside running as a homerun threat. He can catch, block, and brings a lot of endurance to the position (he had over 200 carries last year). Last year again Georgia was Mike Davis’ breakout game, averaging over 9 yards a carry and racking up 198 yards rushing and receiving. He might be the workout warrior that others in the RB class will be, but has shown through his production that can be an every down NFL back. There is potential for the first round, but Davis likely falls into the 2nd day if he declares for the 2015 NFL Draft.
The offensive line is a strength for both teams, especially South Carolina, and will produce some NFL talent not only for the 2015 NFL Draft but in the future.
AJ Cann, OG, South Carolina
Cann will compete to be the top senior guard off the board in the 2015 Draft. He has started every game of his career except one, and is littered with honors from All-SEC to team captain to being consistently listed on the SEC Honor Roll. A pure left guard, Cann has very good athleticism for a player at 311 pounds. He plays with excellent leverage, even when pulling, that often can blowup opposing defensive linemen and linebackers, putting them on the ground. Cann doesn’t always flash when watching a game, but when he is studied, he rarely shows a lot of faults. Not so much a mauler, and there might be limited upside on his push in the run game in a power scheme, but he could be a 10-year NFL veteran if matched with the right offensive scheme. Cann is likely a 2nd day pick due to a lower ceiling, but sneaking into the 1st round is not out of the question by any means.
Corey Robinson, OT, South Carolina
South Carolina’s left tackle Corey Robinson is one of the first players that stand out when watching the Gamecocks play. At 6’8 344 pounds, Robinson towers over most defensive linemen and uses that to his advantage. Robinson’s career trajectory has been interesting, almost moved to defensive tackle as a redshirt freshman, but he has shown massive improvement every single year as a left tackle, including the start to this season. He not only brings the power you’d expect form someone his size, but great acceleration and awareness off of the snap. He usually gets his hands on his man first and shuffles his feet well for his size. He is not elite, especially in pass protection, but he could be a 2nd round pick with left tackle, right tackle, or offensive guard NFL potential.
David Andrews, C, Georgia
Andrews is the prototypical great college player who won’t be much of an NFL prospect. He has started 27 games in his first three years and figures to start every game at center this season. He is undersized at only 294 pounds and doesn’t have the athleticism to make up for the lack of bulk. He uses his hands well and is pretty solid in pass protection as a whole, but his lack of push in the run game will likely lead to a downgrade in his NFL evaluation. His backside anchor can be quite poor against very good talent, but he seems to find a way to hold his own with help. Andrews should be drafted based on his college resume, but as a late round pick who could be a back up Center or Guard. He will have his hands full this week with JT Surratt and a good game could go a long way to helping his stock.
J.T. Surratt, DT, South Carolina
Surratt is the only returning starter on the South Carolina defensive line and has played the Nose Tackle role of their defense for most of his career. He isn’t the mammoth NT that many think of, only listed at 310 pounds, but he is very stout and fits with the NFL trend to smaller, quicker noses in 4-3 and hybrid defenses. He has great upper and lower body strength and was a big reason for Kelcy Quarles success last year and Surratt often occupied two gaps, allowing Quarles to get to the QB. He has stepped up and become a leader on the defense and is good at doing the job assigned to him on each given play. Every so often, Surratt flashes athletic ability and he has a high ceiling if used correctly. The game against Georgia and center David Andrews will be very telling of how Surratt will handle the NFL. With a big game, he should put himself in the midrounds with potential to go higher.
Ramik Wilson, LB, Georgia
Wilson burst onto the scene last year leading the SEC in tackles with 133 from the Inside Backer position on Georgia’s defense. Wilson’s lateral agility is apparent from the first snap. He finds ways to shed blocks with his quickness and moves into gaps very fast. He goes sideline to sideline well and often is a thorn in the side of the opponents run game. Wilson’s experience in a 3-4 defense also gives him plenty of versatility in the NFL, allowing him to play ILB in a 3-4 or kick to OLB in a 4-3 defense. Wilson has some experience in coverage, but isn’t a strength as TEs and slot WRs provide a mismatch against him. Going up against a RB like Mike Davis, Wilson could prove he can handle NFL RBs and move himself into 2nd day consideration with a good game this week.
Damian Swann, Georgia
Swann has a storied college career, but his NFL prospects may not be as promising. He is listed well at 5’11 but is likely to come in shorter. Being only 180 pounds, there will be a concern if he can go up against top NFL WRs at 6’2 or 6’3. Despite his size, Swann does tackle well, but his coverage abilities will be questioned due to his hip flexibility and turn and run ability. Swann is a name that will be high on the public mind due to college profile but will fall to the late rounds of the draft.