Then Rennie Curran was drafted – very, very late in the third round.
If you are keeping score at home (and most people kept score because that’s what you do in the NFL Draft… numbers are everywhere) 21 other SEC players including seven from Florida and four from Alabama were drafted before the first Georgia player was selected. Even Vanderbilt had a player drafted before Georgia.
I guess Willie Martinez will take the brunt of the blame here (He seems to be the goat for everything these days, so I blame him… I guess he’s the reason for global warming, too). But the NFL Draft does not lie… neither does Georgia’s 2009 record – 8-5… the worst record in the Mark Richt Era coincided with the one of the worst NFL Drafts of the Mark Richt Era. It wasn’t the worst in terms of numbers, but Georgia came dangerously close to only having three players drafted in all of the 2010 draft – and that would have been the worst for sure. That stands in stark contrast to last season when they had three players drafted in the first 50 picks.
The entire Draft experience provided a good compare and contrast exercise for a couple of things, actually: Georgia’s talent compared to Florida’s this past season, and Georgia’s talent in the 2010 class compared to the talent from a few years before.
Florida raked up pick after pick… amazingly Tim Tebow was not the first Gator selected, but he was the most talked about (how is that new?). It was just like when the nucleus of their 2006 national title team was drafted in 2007… nine former Florida players sprinkled throughout that draft. This season was a little different for Florida – all of the talent went towards the top of the draft… no wonder they have been so good for the last two seasons – they have been loaded with talent and skill. Their head coach may well be going through meltdown after meltdown, but, by god, he’s got talent all over the place.
No wonder Georgia was so bad in 2009… they didn’t have near as much talent – and before you blast e-mails or Facebook messages about how coaches “coach-up” players to NFL levels; No, they don’t. They enhance players… but you are what you are. You are either a NFL football player or you are not.
Bryan Evans was never a NFL football player… no matter who his coach was or is. The same coach that “coached up” Rod Battle was the same guy who “coached up” David Pollack to be a three-time All-American. The same guy who coached Richard Seymour into the sixth overall pick and a future hall of famer is the same guy who mentored Jeff Owens and Kade Weston – both almost left off the draft boards in 2010. The same guy who resulted in the only major division one football offer for Tim Jennings is the same guy who “coached up” Reshad Jones.
The good news for Georgia fans? Well, two things. A. If, for some reason, you think it was the coaching that caused the players to be drafted low or even go undrafted (you will also probably be scratching your head about why Prince Miller went undrafted while Brandon Boykin won’t)… there has been a change in that department; and B. The talent is better… and, therefore, Georgia will be better in 2010.
A.J. Green will probably go in the first five picks of the 2011 NFL Draft (if he comes out as expected). Clint Boling will likely follow him somewhere in the first round. Justin Houston is a talented player who could enter the NFL early, but will benefit from playing two seasons rather than one in the 3-4; the same should be said about Cornelius Washington. Brandon Boykin is a second-day (or higher) pick when he leaves. Orson Charles might be a first round pick, too, when his time comes… actually all of Georgia’s tight ends stand a chance to get drafted. Branden Smith, too, has potential, but he’s not there yet. Georgia’s top 22 players of 2010 are better than the top 22 of 2009 either because they are more experienced – like Boykin at his cornerback spot – or they are just better – like Bacarri Rambo playing over Bryan Evans.
The point, in the end, is this: you win in football by putting as many players as possible on the field who can do something other guys can’t do. Judging from the recent draft we have learned that Georgia didn’t have many of those guys this past season, but they did the year before… and all the while Florida had a slew of them.
I’m pretty sure the wait for Georgia fans won’t be nearly as long next year when you tune into the draft. I’m also pretty sure their bowl game this year won’t be the warm-up act for a soccer game on ESPN2, either.