ATHENS — Georgia produced a talented group of players that are headed to the NFL, seven of them draftees, a handful of others, as free agents.
All of the NFL camp-bound Bulldogs have good football film, but some didn’t fare as well at the NFL combine as other players from SEC schools.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart took note, and he offered a suggestion for the upcoming class of Bulldogs headed for the 2020 NFL draft: stay local.
That is, stay at the University of Georgia to train for the combine, rather than go to South Florida, or Texas or California to train.
“These kids all go places to workout and train, and sometimes maybe the best environment is to be in the environment you’ve been in most often,” Smart said on Georgia Pro Day on March 20. “The comfortable environment of being here.”
The 40-yard dash times and vertical jumps — fast-twitch measurements — of a few departing UGA players were particularly subpar compared to others at their positions.
• Receiver Riley Ridley ran a 4.58-second 40-yard dash and had a 30.5-inch vertical
• Elijah Holyfield ran a 4.78 40 and had a 29.5-inch vertical
• Isaac Nauta ran a 4.91 time in the 40 and had a 28-inch vertical
• Jonathan Ledbetter ran a 5.14 40 and had a 26.5-inch vertical
None of the players had expressed any concerns about the potential for lackluster performances at the combine.
In fact, some appeared shocked after the fact.
It does create some question as to how thoroughly and effectively their training was leading up to the NFL combine.
Georgia’s strength and conditioning staff does a tremendous job with videos marketing the difficulty of workouts, some that are extreme beyond belief.
But after the 2019 NFL Combine, it’s a safe bet Smart will work to ensure the UGA players are being trained to improve their chances of becoming better football players and better NFL prospects.
Smart made it clear he’s going to stand behind his strength and conditioning staff with the invitation for players to stay and train for the combine before the 2020 NFL Draft.
“Everybody is different and they have the choice to choose that, and they can go workout where they want to workout.” Smart said.
“I don’t think you can pin it on one reason why a guy doesn’t run as well as he should or shouldn’t, I think every opportunity he gets, he should take advantage of, which hopefully they did today.”
Ridley, curiously, chose not to run or do combine drills at pro day, which clearly sent the wrong message and led to NFL draft stock dropping.
The message is clear: the combine numbers matter, and Smart wants to do all he can to help the Bulldogs players be prepared for the NFL combine moving forward.
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