2023 NFL Draft shows it takes more than 5-star talent to go early

Georgia football has seen 41% of signees from 2016-2019 get drafted by the NFL, making it the most recent sample data. It is too early to judge the 2020 or 2021 classes because most of those players are still in college football. There were a few eye-opening picks in this year’s draft, particularly the slide of former 5-star CB Kelee Ringo fall to the fourth round. The same head-scratchers followed the slide of former 5-star Darnell Washington to the third round.
The national recruiting services rank players based on a professional projection. They rank those 5-star guys based on the likelihood to project as future NFL first-round draft picks. Former 5-star CB Elias Ricks, former 5-star DE Brenton Cox, former 4-star DT Nesta Silvera, former 4-star QB Max Duggan, former 5-star WR Kayshon Boutte, former 5-star RB Zach Evans, former 5-star EDGE KJ Henry, former 4-star QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, former 4-star DT Jaquelin Roy, former 5-star ILB Noah Sewell, former 5-star WR Justin Shorter, former 4-star LB Henry To’o To’o, former 5-star LB Owen Pappoe, former 5-star DT Zacch Pickens, former 5-star DE Zach Harrison, former 5-star LB Trenton Simpson, former 4-star RB Tank Bigsby, and former 5-star OT Wanya Morris are some of the big names that were drafted lower than expected.
Former 5-star RB Bijan Robinson was the first RB off the board at No. 8 overall by the Atlanta Falcons. Zach Evans, a name Georgia fans will know, fell to the sixth round. Demarkcus Bowman, the No. 3 RB that year, has bounced from Clemson to Florida to UCF and has yet to score a college touchdown. DawgNation knows all about Kendall Milton. Former 5-star LB Noah Sewell was the No. 2 LB in the nation back in 2020. He was taken in the fifth round. Trenton Simpson was the No. 1 OLB in the nation that same cycle and Clemson developed him into a third-round selection. Former Georgia Bulldog Mekhail Sherman was the No. 2 OLB for that class, and he just transferred to Nebraska to get more first-team reps.
There are a lot more big names this year, and it happens every year. Sometimes it boils down to each individual team’s needs or a draft strategy to just take the best player available, while at other times medical reports can cause a slide. When it is close, sometimes a less productive player gets taken when they have simply shown the ability to suit up for every game. Talent isn’t always the main thing. We saw that with both Ringo and Washington last weekend.

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