UGA Draft Prospects Unspectacular After Murray
By Dan Mathews
The 2014 crop of Georgia players is not at all like the 2013 group that entered the NFL. This year there is no Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree, or Shawne Williams.
As it stands right now, quarterback Aaron Murray looks like the one Georgia player that will come off the draft board relatively high. That said, as our own David Seigerman pointed out, Murray likely will get picked on the third day of the draft.
QB Aaron Murray: He likely will be a fourth-round pick and I think that the Houston Texans would be a great system for him to play in. Even though Gary Kubiak is no longer calling the offensive plays in Houston, new head coach Bill O’Brien has an impressive track record with quarterbacks. You don’t have to look any further than his work with Tom Brady during his time with the New England Patriots. Murray also would have a chance to work with quarterbacks coach George Godsey. You might remember that name from his time as the quarterback at Georgia Tech from 1998-2001. During his time as a Patriots offensive assistant and then tight ends coach, Godsey was well-respected by Brady. Football people have told me Godsey is one of the more highly thought of assistant coaches in the game right now.
This seems like a match made in heaven, because Murray is an absolute football junkie. If you’ll remember back to the time Murray tore his ACL last season, he was back inside the Georgia football facility the next night trying to watch game film. Murray confirmed that detail to Football.com at his pro day. His preparation, toughness and skills should make him a steal for the Texans in the fourth round.
Yes, his size has been an issue for some. Keep in mind he only missed two games during his Georgia career. However, those three characteristics I just listed will keep him in the NFL for a long time.
TE Arthur Lynch: A five-year player for Mark Richt at Georgia, Lynch made quite a mark on this Bulldogs offense. He was a constant target for Aaron Murray and picked up more than 900 yards and eight touchdowns during his time in Athens. He’s not the best athlete in this tight end class; however, Lynch is a bright and instinctual player. Despite his fourth-down drop in the Gator Bowl that gave the ball back to Nebraska for the win, he does have good catch skills and route-running ability. He's a very good blocker and can thrive in two-tight end and jumbo offensive sets.
I could see Lynch getting picked by the Chicago Bears in the fifth round. The Bears find success with the run game and also during those cold weather games in November/December. They could use a guy like Lynch to catch those underneath passes from Jay Cutler. Lynch has the intelligence and skills to stick around in the NFL for a good while. He’s never going to be a star, yet he’ll be a solid player for any offense.
OG/C Chris Burnette: At 6-foot-3, 303 pounds, Burnette is perfect for an interior offensive line and should also be a late-round pick.
The Atlanta Falcons may be in a good position to pick him in the sixth round. He would add depth, intelligence and toughness to this battered offensive line. The Falcons just re-signed center Joe Hawley to a new deal. Keep in mind they drafted Peter Konz in 2012, intending to make him the center of the future, but last season was not a good start for Konz.
Falcons head coach Mike Smith has said this offseason that the goal in 2014 and beyond will be to win the line of scrimmage. A guy like Burnette could help bolster the depth of this offensive line and could one day slide into a starting spot either at guard or center. While at UGA’s pro day this year, I saw Burnette serving as Murray’s center during his throwing drills. During that time, I overheard one of the Georgia assistant coaches saying that he felt that would be the best fit for Burnette on the next level.
DE/NT Garrison Smith: Smith gained a ton of experience at Georgia, playing in all four seasons.
Up until 2012, the Bulldogs defensive lineman was a pedestrian player on this defense. However, in his final two seasons, Smith picked up 120 tackles (12 tackles for a loss) and seven sacks. Six of those sacks came during his senior season.
By his own admission, he’s not the sexiest player, but Smith is very good against the run and is a sure tackler. He’s got experience both at 3-4 defensive end and this last season a little at nose tackle. Even though he played in a 3-4 defense in college, I still think Smith could fit in a 4-3 defense as well. At about 6-foot-1 and 310 pounds, a move to defensive tackle in the NFL may be best. That said, I could see Marvin Lewis and the Cincinnati Bengals continuing to pull from the Georgia Bulldogs pipeline and picking him in the seventh round. He could add to the depth on the defensive line and get the chance to learn from fellow Bulldog Geno Atkins.
Garrison is a very smart player and has a great work ethic. He too could have a good NFL career.
Some other Georgia players who could get free agent invites to NFL training camps include OT Kenarious Gates, WR Rantavious Wooten, and OG Dallas Lee.
So as you can see, this isn’t the flashiest group of players coming out of Georgia this draft season. However, they are all very smart players that love playing the game. Also keep in mind that Georgia players usually fair well at the next level.