Georgia football may not be back-to-back yet if Mel Kiper Jr. got it right with his first NFL mock draft in 2023 on the ESPN paysite.
UGA All-American Jalen Carter, one of the Bulldogs’ future best bets for the College Football Hall of Fame, is expected to be the No. 1 overall pick for the Chicago Bears, according to Kiper.
“An explosive inside pass rusher and run stuffer that bests Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson,” Kiper wrote.
“He’s the best player in this draft, a Day 1 starter amid this defense.”
Travon Walker was the No. 1 pick overall in last year’s NFL Draft — one of five Bulldogs from the 2021 national championship team who were selected in the first round.
Outland Trophy winners Jordan Davis, Devonte Wyatt, Quay Walker and Lewis Cine were the others.
The 2022 national champions, who eclipsed the historically defensively dominant group of 2021 by winning the SEC title, also appear to have more than one first-round choice.
Kiper predicts Broderick Jones, who anchored an offensive line that allowed just 9 sacks, will become the second UGA player ranked 16th in the Washington Commanders.
“Jones is a 310-pound maul who didn’t allow a single sack as the Bulldogs’ left tackle in 2022,” Kiper said. “I wouldn’t be shocked if he made the top 10.”
Kiper stopped with just two Georgia players selected in his first round, but other mock drafts have suggested cornerback Kelee Ringo, tight end Darnell Washington and outside linebacker Nolan Smith as other first-round options.
Tailback Kenny McIntosh and safety Chris Smith are considered “second day picks,” both likely second- or third-round picks.
Georgia offensive tackle Warren McClendon is a possible early pick on Day 3 in rounds four or five, while quarterback Stetson Bennett and kicker Jack Podlesny hope to make teams late-round picks or free-agent signees.
Here, Kiper ranked Georgia players in their position group entering the NFL Draft evaluation process.
Attendance (or lack thereof) in All-Star games along with NFL combine and team combine performances, medical evaluations and measurements will likely have an impact.
1. Will Levis, Kentucky
2. Bryce Young, Alabama
3. CJ Stroud, Ohio State
4.Anthony Richardson, Fla
5. Clayton Tune, Houston
6. Jaren Hall, BYU
7.Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
8. Stetson Bennett, Georgia
9. Jake Haener, Fresno State
10. Gerber McKee, Stanford.
12. Kenny McIntosh
Kiper doesn’t have Kearis Jackson among his top 10 or 5 “just missed” picks at receiver or his top 10 returns.