Ranking Georgia’s top 10 NFL Draft prospects after pro day: Ladd McConkey is rising



ATHENS, Ga. — There are cranks out there who tell you that pro day is overrated, especially if you base your NFL Draft evaluation of players on a stopwatch, a shuttle drill or catches made while being guarded by a ghost.

And yes, this writer is generally one of those cranks. After attending many pro days at Georgia, the next time a stopwatch is adorned will be the first time. What happens, as always, is a data point. Along with what these players actually did in college, especially when that college was a place like Georgia.

Still, NFL personnel don’t descend on Athens every year just for Cali N’ Tito’s. There’s a reason all 32 NFL teams were represented at Georgia’s pro day on Wednesday, including three head coaches, a couple of general managers and a handful of coordinators. They get to see a lot of talented players working out in one place, interview them and get more data points.

After taking in pro day, and watching these players throughout their Georgia careers, here is how I’d rank them as prospects:

Yes, a shocker. Bowers didn’t work out on Wednesday, having tweaked his hamstring two weeks ago, but he plans to do a private workout in Athens early next month, along with Amarius Mims, who was dealing with the same thing. Bowers did do an interview: “I wanna beat everyone’s time. It sucks not being out there.”

But it also may be unnecessary. As Kirby Smart put it, the world has already seen what Bowers can do. NFL teams already have enough to gauge how he would fit in their offenses.

“Nobody really asks about Brock,” Smart said. “They’ve been to our practices, they know what he can do. I don’t think there’s a lot of questions about Brock Bowers’ toughness or ability.”

2. CB Kamari Lassiter

This one may actually be a shocker, because Lassiter’s slow 40 time was one of the stories coming out of Wednesday. It may have cemented him not being a first-rounder, which was going to be tough already with the depth at cornerback in this draft.

But having covered this program and other first-rounders — Deandre Baker, Eric Stokes and throw Tyson Campbell in there because he was the first pick of the second round — Lassiter is right there with them and arguably better. Lassiter was in the same shutdown mode, he has two full years of starting experience and he has all the known character traits. Smart used him as an example of someone who didn’t have to play in the Orange Bowl but did anyway. It feels like a team in the mid-to-late first round can pick Lassiter and feel good about him at cornerback for the foreseeable future.

But Smart also thinks Lassiter could play nickel or safety, calling him a “ball hawk” who has a knack for getting the ball out before the catch.

“And corners are hard to find. It’s a throw-first league,” Smart said. “You’ve got to find corners who have the ability to cover man-to-man. And he has the ability to do that.”

McConkey cemented his status as Georgia’s biggest draft riser on Wednesday. He and the other receivers and running backs looked good catching passes from Gunner Stockton, the current backup Georgia quarterback who put on an accurate show. But McConkey looked different. He’s stockier than he may look in pads, without sacrificing speed, and is a legit 6 feet. That makes him suited for outside or the slot, and he’s someone a team can throw to on third down to move the sticks or to aim for bigger plays.

Smart said his ability to “get in and out of breaks” should be important at the next level.

“His ability to separate is probably one of his key things,” Smart said. “In the NFL there’s less touching, you’re able to run routes, and that’s going to be advantageous for him. When they watch him on third down, he’s pretty unique on third down in getting open.”

4. OT Amarius Mims

Mims’ upside is well-chronicled. He’s massive, with good wingspan, and he’s athletic. But his inexperience — only eight starts, due to veterans ahead of him and then injuries — may not even be the biggest question. It’s the reason for the inexperience. Mims took a lot longer to come back last year from the same tightrope surgery that Bowers had. Yes, high-ankle sprains affect everyone differently, but it still must be noted. And then Mims got injured again in the SEC championship and didn’t return. Mims has great ability. But the greatest ability is availability, and an NFL team will be taking a chance.

This seems to be a minority view, with other observers raving about Mims’ potential. Smart downplayed the eight career starts, pointing out that 1) Mims played a lot off the bench as a sophomore, and 2) Mims blocked players like Travon Walker, Nolan Smith and Robert Beal in practice.

“He’s uber-talented, he works really hard, he’s very intelligent,” Smart said. “He’s going to play a long time in the NFL.”

Bullard is the “moneyball” prospect. When someone is very good at the highest level of college, it would seem to be good indicator that he’s worth a shot in the NFL. Is there a question of position fit in the NFL — as in, is he a safety, cornerback or nickelback? Yes. But did he play those positions in college? Yes: As a nickelback he was defensive MVP of the Peach Bowl (when he made the game-saving hit on Marvin Harrison Jr.) and national championship. And this past year as a safety he was very good too.

Bullard is also stocky. He has a good frame and good awareness to go with it. What he did at the college level seems like it should translate.

6. C Sedrick Van Pran-Granger

It can be hard to predict centers. Georgia had one nine years ago who went undrafted, and nine years later David Andrews is still with the team that signed him, the New England Patriots, with whom Andrews has had a very good career. Van Pran-Granger, if he gets in the right situation, could have similar success. He’s a locker room leader, a big guy (bigger than Andrews) and a reliable snapper. The question is whether he’ll get in the right situation. There are only 32 of those starting jobs in the NFL.

Milton always had good size (6-1, 220 pounds) and dynamic ability; it was just a matter of staying healthy. He was at his healthiest and his best as his career ended — nine touchdowns in his last five games, Orange Bowl MVP — and if he gets the right break, he’s someone I can see having a long NFL career.

8. DB Tykee Smith

Smith, like Bullard, will offer versatility. He arrived at Georgia as a safety, which he played for two years at West Virginia, then started as the nickelback last year. The reason it took him so long to make an impact is he tore his ACL in 2021, and it took a while for his speed to come back. But he got it back.

Rosemy-Jacksaint is solid in all ways. Not that tall but tall enough. Not that fast but fast enough. A reliable catcher and route runner. His future may depend on what he can do on special teams to make him valuable enough to be on the 53-man roster.

Another large man, and another good locker room guy. Logue didn’t rack up stats at Georgia but played a lot of snaps, including on special teams, which he NFL teams will notice.

“Toughness. Culture-builder. Extreme effort,” Smart said. “He can do a lot of things for a team.”

And the rest?

Running back Daijun Edwards, defensive lineman Tramel Walthour, long snapper William Mote … they should at least be in NFL camps, and from there you never know. The Baltimore Ravens’ long snapper is Nick Moore, who left Georgia four years ago pretty well unknown, which is a good thing for a long snapper. If you struggled to remember Mote’s name, that’s probably a decent sign for his prospects too.

(Top photo of Ladd McConkey: Joshua L. Jones / USA Today Network)





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