Seven players from Georgia’s 2012 team were taken last month in the NFL draft, tying for the second-highest number of players drafted, behind Alabama’s eight. Considering that at least five players from the Georgia defense could have left early, the Bulldogs might then have led the nation in players taken. The DawgNation Roundtable this week focuses on the players who were drafted, and their potential NFL success.
“Of the Georgia players drafted, who do you think will have the most successful NFL career?”
David Ching: The most obvious here is Cordy Glenn, whose size and versatility should keep him in the NFL for a long time. There is a reason so many NFL draft analysts projected him as a possible first-round pick with the potential to become an All-Pro guard. Even if he plays right tackle in the league, the Buffalo Bills have a mainstay on their offensive line for years to come.
I could easily see a couple of the other former Bulldogs enjoying long careers in the pros. Orson Charles has all the tools to be a valuable tight end in Cincinnati and Brandon Boykin is already getting buzz as a potential starting nickelback in Philadelphia. With his dynamic kick-return ability, Boykin could stick around for a long time.
Another guy who it wouldn't surprise me to see in the league several years from now didn't even get drafted. If Drew Butler can find a home in Pittsburgh -- the club that signed him as an undrafted free agent -- or somewhere else, he can have plenty of longevity as a punter if he can stay consistent. Butler certainly has the genes for it, considering his dad Kevin kicked in the NFL for 13 seasons.
Radi Nabulsi: The first thing I consider when thinking about future NFL success is whether a player has the ability to be versatile. With a 53-man roster limit, the players who can play multiple positions have a longer career than those who can’t. Now some specialists, like kickers and punters, can play for a long time, but I am thinking more of the defensive linemen who can play in both a 3-4 and a 4-3 defense.
Glenn can play tackle and guard in the NFL just like he did in college. And his mammoth size is just rare. The scarcity of athletes of his size bodes well for his future. I think Glenn’s best football is ahead of him. Similarly, Ben Jones will be valuable to the Texans as a center or a guard. He was a four-year starter at Georgia who consistently graded out the best of all the linemen. He adds depth to two positions and, barring injury, I expect he will be a starter in the league for quite some time.
With that criterion in mind, I have to vote for Boykin to have the best career. He is by far the most versatile of the players drafted. He is an outstanding cornerback who has shut down some of the best receivers in the SEC, many of whom he will see again in the NFL. His exploits as a kick-return specialist are well documented, as he left Georgia as the all-time leader in yards and set a record with three returns of 100 yards. But where I think he will prove to have added value is on offense. Mark Richt put him in the backfield a few times this past season, and Boykin's first carry was an 80-yard touchdown against Boise State. One play does not prove anything, but I know that some members of Georgia’s staff thought Boykin was underutilized on offense. With the ability to play in all three phases of the game, Boykin is very valuable to any NFL roster.
Kipp Adams: It might not be the sexy pick, but the former Lou Groza award finalist Blair Walsh could not have landed in a better situation than in Minnesota. While Walsh did not have the senior season he or anyone expected, many forget the numerous game-winning kicks he made throughout his career.
His first career field goal was a 52-yarder versus Georgia Southern as a freshman. Walsh went 40-for-45 during his sophomore and junior seasons and converted a field goal in 45 consecutive games, an all-time NCAA record. He made 10 of 17 field goals of 50 yards or more, and his 412 career points are a University of Georgia and Southeastern Conference record.
Interestingly enough, while Walsh was enjoying his best seasons as a Bulldog, 16-year NFL veteran Ryan Longwell, who was cut by the Vikings to clear the path for Walsh to earn the starting job, was the most accurate kicker in the NFL, making 43 of 46 kicks. If Walsh can get back to where he was in his first three years in Athens, the Vikings could have a long-term solution to their kicking issues of 2011. The front office was confident enough in Walsh's ability to let go of one of the best kickers in the NFL, so who am I to doubt them?
robddavis79: I would have to go with Ben Jones. His maturity, leadership and awareness throughout his career and especially his senior season might have slipped through the cracks. In his final season as part of an unstable and injury prone lineup, Jones was the one player who demonstrated stability at his position. The Bulldogs' offensive line depth was thin and he was often asked to move around. It seemed as though Jones was there to help the "big uglies" line up where needed, keep assignments in check, and pick up the unmanned defender. He had a great ability in communicating with Aaron Murray and the offense through the season. On countless occasions I watched Jones raise his arm and his finger would target a man to pick up. He'd snap the ball when an excited defender crossed over into the neutral zone, creating a defensive offsides call. His presence on that line was just a lot bigger than most linemen give.
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