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NFL Dawgs still making big impact

Los Angeles Rams v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Other than wins and championships, one key measure of a program’s success is how players are developed and sent to the next level.

It’s no coincidence that on Saturday’s in Athens, Georgia makes it a point to recognize players that have moved on, some to the NFL, as a subtle reminder to recruits that the Georgia program is one that puts players in a position to play at the next level.

With the NFL regular season wrapping up this weekend, here’s a look at players who’ve made an impact this season, and some of which will have a chance to do so in the playoffs.

In Green Bay, Eric Stokes has done exactly what the Packers expected - giving them a lockdown option at corner. Look for Stokes’ stock to rise even more as the Packers have homefield advantage at the Frozen Tundra. He leads all rookies in passes defended with 12.

His teammate in the Georgia secondary from last year, Tyson Campbell is one of very few bright spots on a horrendous Jacksonville team, fifth in the league in passes defended among rookies.

One team Green Bay may see in the postseason, Arizona, is led by AJ Green, who is having a bit of a renaissance with the Cardinals.

But Green’s hardly the only NFL Dawg making noise in the NFC West. The Rams will go into the postseason with Matthew Stafford at the helm of the offense and second in the league in yards and touchdowns. The Rams have also gotten strong production at running back from Sony Michel and Leonard Floyd at linebacker.

A few other AFC playoff teams will have Georgia leading the way up front with Isaiah Wynn and David Andrews on the Patriots offensive line and Ben Jones with the Titans.

Buffalo, which moved toward clinching homefield in the first round by beating Atlanta, last week, continues to be helped in multiple phases by Isaiah McKenzie. The Falcons fell last week despite nine tackles from Shawn Williams.

Look for the Chiefs to be a postseason factor as well, with playmakers like Mecole Hardman in the lineup.

In Baltimore, the Ravens continue to be a tough out thanks to Ben Cleveland coming into his own at center, Justin Houston on defense and Nick Moore on special teams.

Much to the chagrin of fantasy football owners, Nick Chubb only had 58 rushing yards last week. Despite being slowed by injuries as of late, Chubb is still third in the league with more than 1,200 rushing yards.

D’Andre Swift returned from an injury last week for Detroit, gaining 32 yards.

Two teams at the end of a long season with possible changes next season met last week with multiple NFL Dawgs on both sides. For some, the last few weeks may determine, in some ways, their fate for next year. In the Bears 29-3 win against the Giants, the Georgia defenders did what they have done most of the season for Chicago with Roquan Smith and Alec Ogletree combining for 17 tackles. Smith is having a career year with 157 tackles and is fourth in the NFL overall.

As for the Giants, an injury may flush Jake Fromm back into the starting role on an offense with Andrew Thomas at tackle and Lorenzo Carter, JR Reed, Azeen Ojulari, and Tae Crowder on defense.

Go NFL Dawgs!