Despite the snow and ice gripping much of the northern half of the country, spring really is right around the corner. And in spring a young man's thoughts turn to love. And golf. And spring football.
And, if the young man is a recently departed former college football player, the NFL draft. This year's NFL combine begins on February 23rd and the draft itself isn't until April 28th. But your friends at SB Nation have already begun the process of mocking the draft. Dan Kadar's latest effort to project the rational picks which NFL personnel folk will make can be found here. Obviously, the standard caveat that these are the same people who worried that Andy Dalton had red hair and that A.J. McCarron doesn't get in enough trouble go here.
A few things about Dan's draft projection should be noteworthy to Bulldog fans. Most obvious is that he projects Leonard Floyd to go #20 overall in the first round to the New York Jets. The pick makes sense to me. As last week's Super Bowl made plain, an elite pass rush can change everything about the game. Floyd is about as good a pure pass rusher as this draft offers. I said last year that the Meanest Man in Eastman© made the right decision not turning pro at the first available opportunity. This time around I think he may have timed things perfectly. He's bigger and stronger than in 2015, and as Kadar notes should leap off the page of combine results. While I still don't see Floyd as a great every down linebacker, he provides an in-demand skill set in this draft. Get paid, Leonard. Get. Paid.
Also of note, Georgia wasn't the only team with quarterback difficulties this season. While Dan has several QBs going in the first round, these are not the pro style signal callers you saw at the Heisman ceremony and on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Cal's Jared Goff is not a household name despite a solid 2015 in Tony Franklin's offense. Kadar also gives first round nods to Carson Wentz of North Dakota State and Paxton Lynch of Memphis. There's a bit of a supply squeeze going on in pro football right now, with a shortage of quarterbacks running the type of offenses that NFL OCs still favor. That's good for guys with acceptable measurable and proven production.
Finally nobody gave ‘em Hell like Alabama in 2015. But the Tide aren't the only school SB Nation expects to have multiple first rounders. Dan tabs the Tide for three first round picks, but that's only half as many as the Ohio State Buckeyes' six. It's the same number as Ole Miss, the only team to defeat the Red Elephants this year. The Rebels also get the nod for the top slot with noted last minute decision maker Laremy Tunsil picked to go #1 overall to the Titans. From this I think you can draw two conclusions. One, Georgia may be even luckier this season not to play Alabama than they were unlucky to do so in 2015. But also, the Bulldogs will replace the Tide with an Ole Miss squad which loses its premier left tackle, perhaps its best defensive lineman, and easily its best wide receiver. That can't hurt. Until later...