The Bulldogs had three players selected during the initial 35 selections of April’s draft. This included a pair of junior offensive tackles who were first-round choices. Linebackers will lead the way for UGA next year, and the program also has a ton of next-level prospects in the secondary.
Monty Rice is a lesser version of Roquan Smith, the former Bulldog selected with the eighth pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. He’s explosive, covers a tremendous amount of area and plays tough, instinctive football. Rice is a tremendous run-and-chase linebacker with a three-down game.
In my opinion, Azeez Ojulari is destined to be a star and an early draft pick. He’s an athletic linebacker who often comes out of a three-point stance for the UGA defense. Ojulari is quick and strong for his size, and he plays with great balance. He needs to develop his game, but I love his upside.
Trey Hill is another exciting underclassman who could develop into a first-round pick. Hill is more mobile and agile than recent first-rounder Cesar Ruiz, and dare I say he’s also better sliding in space, but he does not display the sheer power or brute force of Ruiz despite tipping the scales near 320 pounds. Like Ojulari, I love Hill’s upside.
Jamie Newman will make his debut for Georgia after a terrific campaign for Wake Forest last season. He’s a well-sized pocket passer with a big arm and the ability to make all the throws. Newman must improve his pass placement and downfield accuracy, which is sometimes tough to do. Based on recent conversations, the grade I’ve handed Newman is a good 2-4 rounds higher than the one assigned by scouts.
Some scouts love Davis Daniel, and I mean as a potential top-42 selection. And while I like his size and speed, his instincts and ball skills concern me. Daniel reminds me a lot of former Bulldogs cornerback Deandre Baker, who is now struggling on and off the field with the New York Giants. He’s reliant on breaking up passes by physically beating down opposing receivers and rarely does anything but faceguard opponents.
The Wildcats had a second-day selection last April after claiming the seventh overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. In those instances, both players were juniors — and underclassmen are atop my UK board once again.
The stats for Keaton Upshaw last year were nothing spectacular, as he posted just seven receptions for 78 yards. But the ability he displayed and the upside I see in his game make me believe Upshaw is a terrific next-level prospect. He’s an athletic big man who would be equally as comfortable on the basketball court as he is on the football field. This is a big projection on my part, as Upshaw is listed as the Wildcats’ No. 2 tight end, but he has tremendous upside.
Yusuf Corker is a tough safety who plays with great instincts. He comes with average size and speed, but he has outstanding football intellect.
Reminder: To view my grades and projected draft rounds for SEC draft-eligible prospects, scroll to the end of the article.
LSU comes off a hallmark campaign in which they ran roughshod over opponents all season, won the National Title and saw their Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback selected with the first pick of the draft. It will be impossible to top that feat, but the program known for losing underclassmen in bunches to the NFL Draft will fare well in 2021.
Joe Burrow was selected with the first pick of April’s draft after his record-breaking campaign. Burrow’s job was made much easier last season thanks to his top target, Ja’Marr Chase.
Chase is a complete receiver, and dare I say a better NFL prospect than Burrow, but he catches the ball rather than throws it. Chase is fast, tough and instinctive, and he makes the difficult catch in a crowd, displays next-level pass-catching skills and shows a tremendous feel for the position. Losing Burrow hurts, and Chase must quickly get in tune with another signal caller, but I have no doubt he will. Expect Chase to enter next April’s draft and end up as a very early pick.
Terrace Marshall Jr. would be the No. 1 receiver at most other universities in the nation, and he’s a legitimate next-level prospect. Marshall is slightly taller than Chase, though he’s not as fast or dynamic. He, too, possesses next-level pass-catching ability and big upside.
Jabril Cox, a graduate transfer who played productive football for three years at North Dakota State, is universally considered a top-45 pick in the scouting community at this point. He’s slightly undersized, but he’s explosive and great in pursuit.
Damone Clark is a sleeper of sorts. I graded him as a potential second-day pick off his 2018 film, but he struggled to see the field last season due to the depth of linebacker talent on the LSU roster. But when he saw action, Clark displayed a lot of athleticism and ability.