Georgia football has had a bittersweet day as the Dawgs see their players decide to stay in Athens or declare for the pros.
The Dawgs could see double-digit players drafted in the upcoming NFL Draft, so it’s understandable, so many of these players are declaring. Four playmakers that decided to go to the Draft on Thursday were Jamaree Sayler, Lewis Cine, Nakobe Dean and Travon Walker.
All three sting a bit because they were so crucial to the Dawgs’ success on defense this season, but at the same time, these four have done their jobs as college players. It’s time for them to take the next step because they are all three physically and mentally prepared.
Georgia football loses four elite playmakers to the draft, but it’s okay because they were ready.
Field general Dean won the Butkus Award and was on the Alstate Goodworks captain after this year, and then he helped the Dawgs beat the Tide along with 13 other opponents this year. Dean is a remake of Roquan Smith, so it’s understandable why he decided to leave after three seasons.
He finished his season as the second leading tackler at 72 total but led the Dawgs in tackles for loss at 10.5. Dean also finished the year with six sacks, two interceptions, six pass breakups, 28 quarterback hurries, and two forced fumbles.
Dean will make an NFL team very happy, and his bank account will look even nicer than it already does. It is time for him to pass the torch to the next guy because they’ve left a legacy, and it’s time for another to keep it going.
The same can be said for Walker and what he did for the team this year. He was one of the most lethal forces on the defense with Dean. Walker finished the year with 37 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, two pass breakups, one fumble recovery, and he led the team with 32 quarterback hurries.
Even as a junior, he plays like he has been in the league for years. Walker grew into himself and was a big reason Georgia got so much pressure on Bryce Young in the championship game.
Then there is Cine, who was the team’s leading tackler with 73 total tackles. He also tallied two tackles for loss, one interception, nine pass breakups, which led the team, and one quarterback hurry.
Cine was a great leader for the secondary when they needed it most. Just like Dean and Walker, Cine accomplished more than the team could ever ask him to do through three seasons in the Red and Black.
These three defenders will be the start, I’m sure of a whole lot leaving to go to the league, but at the same time, these three juniors know it’s time to let the next Dawg step up and keep this new culture going.
Salyer was the fourth guy to declare for the draft on Thursday, but there is no surprise here. He is a senior who has been an anchor for the offensive line, and there is no reason Salyer needs to take his COVID-19 year. Salyer will be the next great offensive linemen in the NFL with Georgia behind his name, and he is going to have a long career.
As the offensive line leader, he helped the youngsters who had to step up when injuries happened and played wherever Matt Luke needed him to. Georgia moved him from tackle to guard during the championship game, which allowed the Dawgs to get a better push for the run game and protect Stetson Bennett.
These four guys were big pieces to the 2021 national championship team, and while Georgia will miss having them, they did their jobs well. The torch will get passed to the next set of great Dawgs, and it’s up to them now to keep this success going.