Georgia football: why each junior Bulldog should stay in school

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 07: Elijah Holyfield (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 07: Elijah Holyfield (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

Georgia football ends the 2018 season this Tuesday in the Sugar Bowl. After the game, several juniors will have to decide if they want to stay in school or head to the NFL draft.

Five juniors on the 2018 Georgia football team have legitimate reason to mull their decisions about staying in school or going to the NFL. Most of them are on offense, so their choices would greatly impact the potential of Georgia’s offense in 2019. Here’s why I believe those five players should stay in school for one more year.

Isaac Nauta – TE

It’s hard to find a reason as to why Isaac Nauta should stay other than the fact that old school tight ends aren’t very popular in the NFL anymore. For leaving to be worth it, Nauta would have to know he’d be selected by the end of the third round, and I don’t believe there are any NFL teams that he would fit in with who are looking for tight ends.

Nauta is a player who should definitely wait on his evaluation. If it’s a great evaluation, he should certainly leave. But if he’s going to be waiting until the third day to hear his name called, he might as well stay in school one more year.

Elijah Holyfield – RB

We all know Elijah Holyfield and his family do not need the money as much as other college football players. With a former heavyweight boxing champion as a father, the Holyfield family is pretty much set. As for Elijah Holyfield himself, he’s great, but the first-year starter isn’t a true dominator yet.

He punishes defenders and is one of the more difficult players to tackle, but he hasn’t proven to be a big-play threat. Is he physically ready for the NFL? Probably, he’s strong, fast and compact. He’s got all of the makings for a quality NFL running back with longevity. But like Nauta, anything passed the third round isn’t worth his while. And judging by most draft boards I’ve seen, it doesn’t seem like many teams are looking to draft a running back within the first two days.

Mecole Hardman and Riley Ridley – WRs

Nauta and Holyfield will have to wait for evaluations, but Mecole Hardman and Riley Ridley most certainly won’t be drafted by the end of day two. That’s not a knock against their talent and skill, it’s more of a testament for how well Georgia spreads the ball to multiple players. The top wide receiver prospects are the guys posting 1,000-yard seasons, it’s been that way for decades now. Hardman only has 540 receiving yards while Ridley has 498. Great for Georgia’s offense, but pedestrian in comparison to other receivers who’s offenses were built around them.

J.R. Reed – S

J.R. Reed is one of the best tacklers in the nation, and that alone brought him attention from the NFL scouts. He gets to the ball carrier quickly, sometimes coming from out of nowhere. He almost always completes the tackle, and at the very least, stops a ball carrier enough for someone else to finish the play.

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But with Dominick Sanders gone, Reed needed to step up in pass coverage. He didn’t do a bad job clearly as the Dawgs only allowed 180 passing yards per game. But he didn’t shut down the middle of the field the same why Sanders did. Reed needs one more year to improve his zone coverage. If he can close down the middle next season, I believe Reed will be a first round pick in the 2020 Draft.