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  • ATHENS – The “way-too-early” prediction has become quite a fad in college football. Everywhere you turn there are already Top 25 predictions for 2018, national champion predictions, conference champs, what have you. I get it. We love college football around here. We can’t get enough of it and it’s never too early to start talking about it, or never too late to stop. So, I guess this is going to be my attempt at that. I’ve perused Georgia’s schedule for next season and done just enough research on the Bulldogs’ opponents to be dangerous. But I can’t offer enough qualifiers when I say, well, this is really way too early to predict. That said, I expect Georgia to return to the SEC title game in 2018 and face Alabama this time in what will be a rematch of the College Football Playoff championship. It’s my understanding that SEC refs will, in fact, officiate, so the Dawg Nation should at least feel good about that. Alas, it won’t produce a different result. Georgia will fall short again against Alabama, this time for the conference championship. But fear not. The loss won’t be a season killer for the Bulldogs. They’ll still get into the CFP Playoffs for a second straight year. That means there will be two SEC teams in the final four for a second straight season, which will probably initiate the dismantling of the current CFP agreement and an expansion to an eight-team playoff, lest other conferences and teams continue to be offended. I digress. Georgia will get bumped out in the semifinals this time and will head home to Athens with an 11-3 record. Kirby Smart’s gift-wrapped national championship for his alma mater will have to wait another year. At least, that’s what I’m thinking at the moment. I reserve the right to change my opinion between now and, say, the G-Day Game. At least by then we all will get a chance to see some of these Bulldogs in action for the first time. And there might be a lot of players seeing their first action. So, on what am I basing this way-too-early-prediction? Three things mainly: Georgia having an established quarterback/offense, good special teams and a manageable schedule. Anybody who has taken a gander at the Bulldogs’ 2018 slate of games will probably come to the same conclusion as I did — “pretty easy.” Well, anybody not named Kirby Smart. That said, as always, it will come down to a few key games. Let’s discuss those here: Sept. 8 at South Carolina Anybody who has followed Georgia for any length of time can probably tell you to beware any time the Bulldogs have to go over to Columbia to face the Gamecocks in an early-season game. It has been in hot early-September games where Georgia has suffered many of its 18 all-time defeats to South Carolina. This year the Bulldogs get Will Muschamp’s Gamecocks in Week 2 and the home team will have played only the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers at that point, so their traditional early-season optimism should be well intact. And so will be South Carolina’s offense, which returns virtually everybody from 2017, including quarterback Jake Bentley and wide receiver Deebo Samuels. The Gamecocks are a different team without Samuels, who missed most of 2017 with a broken leg. They lost some talent on defense, but will be stout at linebacker with T.J. Brunson and Bryson Allen Williams back in the fold. This game will be billed by whatever television network gets it as the Battle to Become SEC East Frontrunner. I’ve got Georgia eking out a close one, but expect it to be harrowing and gritty as these games at Williams-Brice usually are. Georgia 2-0, 1-0 SEC. Sept. 22 at Missouri There will be some who scoff at this being key game for the Bulldogs, but I firmly believe it will be. Georgia’s defense, in for a rebuild in 2018, surely will get a stern test from the Tigers, led by quarterback Drew Lock and a three-headed monster at running back between Ish Witter, Damarea Crockett and Larry Roundtree. The offensive line returns intact as well. Fortunately for the Bulldogs, receiver J’Mon Moore is not among the returnees. He had a pair of 63-yard TD catches against Georgia last year in Athens and allegedly is still running free down East Campus Road. But the Tigers will have their resident number of play-making pass-catchers, along with a good dose of confidence after the six-game winning streak to end this past season. Mizzou will also have its resident defensive issues, as well, so expect another offensive shoot-out like last year’s 53-28 win by the Bulldogs. Fortunately for Georgia, it should have some firepower, too. Georgia 4-0, 2-0 SEC. Oct. 13 at LSU Television hasn’t been set for this one and won’t be for quite some time. But odds are it will be at night and you know what they say about playing LSU at night in Baton Rouge. That said, these haven’t been those traditional SEC West powerhouse Tigers for a little while. Now in their second year under Ed Orgeron, LSU has lost at least three games every season since 2012, and they’re projected to be much the same in 2018. Orgeron hasn’t done much to change the culture and the Tigers face many of the same issues this season they have recently. That is, they still don’t know who the quarterback is going to be, they’re on their third offensive coordinator in as many years and Steve Ensminger has been described as a retread. And while they’ve always been able to count on great running backs, there’s not necessarily a great one waiting in the wings for Derrick Guise like there was for Leonard Fournette and Jerremy Hill. That said, LSU’s defense should be strong as usual and that will be what it hangs its hat on. Often that has been enough playing in the place the locals call Death Valley. Georgia 6-1, 4-1 SEC Oct. 27 vs. Florida in Jacksonville The Bulldogs rolled over the Gators 42-7 last year, and it had been a decade since we’d witnessed Georgia win in a rout in the Cocktail Party. Not coincidentally, Florida fired Jim McElwain that Monday and the Gators are now under new leadership in Dan Mullen. Mullen most recently was at Mississippi State, where he did a formidable job under difficult circumstances, but his glory days in coaching were spent as Urban Meyer’s offensive coordinator at Florida. So he knows his way away around the Sunshine State, and that is being validated on the recruiting trail as the Gators are having their best year ever right after a coaching change. However, Florida is still facing a lot of the same problems that got McElwain fired and Muschamp before him. They still don’t have a proven quarterback or any established stars at receiver or running back. The hope is Georgia native Emery Jones, a late Ohio State flip, will be the answer at QB. The defense will be under the guidance of Todd Grantham, who the Bulldogs have lit up each time they’ve met him since he left Athens. Kirby Smart has never lost to a Mullen-coached team and I don’t expect that to change this year at least. Georgia 7-1, 5-1 SEC. Nov. 10 Auburn at Georgia Looking across the league, it’s teams with established starting quarterbacks that generally have the most promising prospects. That’s definitely the case with Auburn, which returns Jarrett Stidham after a sophomore season in which he passed for more than 3,000 yards and got the Tigers enticingly close to major success. Of course, it was Georgia that kept the Tigers from making 2017 a truly special season, defeating them 28-7 in the SEC Championship game and sending Auburn to the Peach Bowl rather than the College Football Playoffs. The Tigers, who lost to Central Florida in that bowl game, will actually open 2018 against Washington in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic, giving them three straight games in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. That’ll likely do it for Auburn in that building for a while. The Tigers haven’t won in Sanford Stadium since 2005 and even that one required some flukish, last-second antics to pull off. Georgia will be playing to clinch its sixth Eastern Division championship and it will, in a shoot-out. Georgia 9-1, 7-1 SEC. And that’s the way I see it right now. The Bulldogs will wrap up the 2018 regular season with a tough road game at Kentucky and home games against UMass and Georgia Tech. But UGA will get through unscathed. The Yellow Jackets will likely give Georgia hell in Sanford Stadium like they always do, but look for the Bulldogs to retain the Governor’s Cup and finish the season undefeated at home for the second straight season with an 11-1 record and Top 5 national ranking. All possibilities again should be in play. But in a transition year and without all those seniors leading the way, it’s hard to imagine Georgia capturing lightning in a bottle again the way it did last season. Then again, who among us was expecting that this time last year? The post Crystal ball says another big year is ahead for Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs appeared first on DawgNation.
  • The game: Georgia at Tennessee, Sept. 30, 2017 The moment: Interception on first play of the game for Bulldogs Key player or players: Georgia’s Tyrique McGhee, Tennessee’s Quinten Dormady and Josh Smith What it meant: It set up the Bulldogs’ first score en route to a 41-0 rout and let the Vols know that there would be no mismatch between their vaunted receiving corps and Georgia’s secondary. ATHENS — It’s a play almost completely lost and forgotten from a magical season in which memorable moments rained down on the Georgia Bulldogs like all that confetti after the SEC Championship Game. But it was meaningful and it set the tone for what became one of the Bulldogs’ most dominant road performances in history. A lot of people hadn’t yet reached their seats in sold-out Neyland Stadium that warm Saturday afternoon when Rodrigo Blankenship launched yet another touchback out of Tennessee’s end zone. So, the clock still read 15:00 when the Vols offense lined up at their 25-yard line intent on driving the length of the field on their first possession and exposing the undefeated Bulldogs as frauds. Four seconds later, Tennessee no longer had the ball. Thanks to cornerback Tyrique McGhee, Georgia did. Tennessee quarterback Quinten Dormady targeted heralded receiver Josh Smith on a quick out to the right side. McGhee immediately recognized the route and jumped it. He dove in front of Smith near the Georgia sideline, snatched the ball from the air and landed on his belly on the Vols 27-yard line. Question: What would be a great start for @FootballUGA? Answer: Interception on the first play. pic.twitter.com/JfkGnhNzdL — CBS Sports (@CBSSports) September 30, 2017 “That was pretty much just film study and repetition in practice,” McGhee told reporters after the game. “Just reading my keys and just breaking on the ball and making a play for my team.” The Bulldogs got only 3 points out of the play, settling for a 38-yard Blankenship field goal after netting just 7 yards in three plays. But a precedent had been established. The Vols’ game plan of picking on the sophomore corner getting just the second start of his career wasn’t going to work. “It was awesome to give my team the jump-start,” said McGhee, who was starting ahead of injured senior Malkom Parrish, who was not long back from a foot injury. “That’s what every guy dreams of and thinks they’re going to do coming in. It was awesome to make it happen. But after that, you have to get to the next play.” McGhee did. Tennessee kept coming after him and he kept making plays. He finished with 4 pass breakups on the afternoon and the Bulldogs snuffed out the Vols offense to the tune of just 142 total yards. Georgia rolled on to a 41-0 victory while handing Tennessee its first shutout in 289 consecutive games, the sixth longest streak in the history of college football. By the end of the game, it was a full-on party for Bulldog Nation. Continuing a trend that started at Notre Dame in South Bend three weeks earlier, the red-and-black faithful had commandeered another stadium takeover as Tennessee fans left and Georgia fans quickly moved to fill their seats down near the field. There were many other memorable moments in that game, including 2 touchdown runs by freshman quarterback Jake Fromm, 109 yards rushing for Nick Chubb making his first start in Neyland Stadium since suffering a major knee injury there in 2015, Javon Wims’ leaping touchdown catch over former Bulldogs defensive back Shaq Wiggins and an interception by safety J.R. Reed. But when it was over, everybody in the Georgia locker room kept coming back to that first play. “He almost did it quietly,” coach Kirby Smart said of McGhee’s interception. “I’d forgotten about the first pick, it happened so early. Then he made a great play down the field on a fade ball and on a stop-and-go. He made a couple of great plays on third down. He works hard. He’s a kid who works hard and has gotten better this year.” With the victory, Georgia improved to 5-0 for the first time since 2012 and recorded its 800th all-time victory in 124 seasons. The Vols fell to 3-2 (0-2 SEC) in a season in which coach Butch Jones would get fired. The post Top 10 moments of 2017: An almost-forgotten play in Georgia’s memorable rout of Tennessee appeared first on DawgNation.
  • The game: Mississippi State at Georgia, Sept. 23, 2017. The moment: Touchdown pass on first offensive play of game for Bulldogs. Key player or players: Georgia’s Jake Fromm, Nick Chubb and Terry Godwin What it meant: Established a tone and mindset for the Bulldogs in a top 25 SEC matchup against an opponent that came in riding high. ATHENS – It was one of those plays the players start getting excited about the moment it’s installed in the game plan. And this one went in early in the week before Georgia played Mississippi State. To appreciate what happened on that play in that game, we have to take into account the dynamics of that matchup. The Bulldogs were just two weeks removed from their dramatic 20-19 win over Notre Dame in South Bend. But there still wasn’t much context to that victory. Nobody could be sure how good the Fighting Irish were, or Georgia, for that matter. UGA (3-0) entered the contest against Mississippi State ranked 11th. Likewise, Mississippi State was coming in walking tall. The Maroon Bulldogs (3-0) had just orchestrated an impressive 38-0 road win over LSU in Baton Rouge and shot into the top 25 rankings at No. 17. Led by Georgia-born quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State entered as a trendy pick to pull off an upset. FLEA FLICKER! Fromm ?? Godwin. Just like that… 7??-0?? @FootballUGA. pic.twitter.com/YMH0bGHmTu — SEC Network (@SECNetwork) September 23, 2017 Georgia dispensed with that idea quickly. Georgia anticipated that Mississippi State’s defense, under the direction of former UGA defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, would be coming hard to stuff the run, so the Bulldogs decided to run a flea-flicker on their first play from scrimmage. Mississippi State received the game’s opening kickoff, so Georgia’s offense would have to wait. But not long. After forcing State into a three-and-out and punt, Georgia took over at its 41-yard line at the 12:47 mark. On first-and-10, freshman quarterback Jake Fromm handed off to tailback Nick Chubb at right guard, same as he does most every game. But instead of running the ball into the hole behind Solomon Kinley, Chubb stopped, about-faced and tossed the ball back to Fromm about nine yards behind the line of scrimmage. Facing zero pass pressure, Fromm calmly delivered a high-arcing pass to wide receiver Terry Godwin, streaking toward the East end zone just inside the right hash mark. Facing man coverage, Godwin had gotten behind Mississippi State senior cornerback Tolando Cleveland by a couple of yards, hauled in the football basket style with two hands and cut hard to left to ensure that he would remain untouched, which he did. Ten seconds after the snap of the ball and 2:23 into the game, Georgia led 6-0. Sanford Stadium exploded in celebration. The home-standing Bulldogs did not look back on the way to a 31-3 blowout victory. It was the second of what would be six consecutive lopsided victories by an average of 24 points. Turns out that the play, while called by offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, actually had been suggested by head coach Kirby Smart. “I had gone to Jim and told him I’d like to open with that, and he said they had been talking about the same thing,” Smart said after the game. “We felt like their players would be peeking in the backfield, and Terry got behind them.” Said Mississippi State linebacker Braxton Hoyett, “It’s just something we should have expected honestly. We knew coming into the game they were going to try something. I felt like we were prepared for it, but it happened. I can’t even make an excuse for it. They came out with a trick play and they were gone.” Fromm went 9-for-12 for 201 yards passing and two touchdowns in the game. Chubb had 81 yards rushing and scored twice, and Godwin had one other catch and finished with 80 yards receiving. The Bulldogs improved to 4-0 before heading to Knoxville to take on Tennessee. The post Top 10 moments of 2017: The flea-flicker against Mississippi State appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS – “It takes a village to raise a child.” That’s thought to be an ancient African proverb. The fact is, nobody has been able to fully validate the origins of that well-used phrase. What is certain, however, is the maxim fully applies to the story of Montezuma’s Roquan Smith. Before it’s all over, Smith may be considered the greatest linebacker to ever don the red and black of the Georgia Bulldogs. We’ll have to give that legacy more time to percolate. Without question, however, he leaves Georgia as one of the program’s most successful and decorated defensive players in modern history. The winner of the 2017 Butkus Award as the nation’s best linebacker, Smith piled up 124 tackles last season and led a defense that paved the way for the Bulldogs’ run to the College Football Playoff championship game. On Jan. 8, Georgia (13-2) lost to Alabama in the finals 26-23 in overtime and finished with a No. 2 national ranking. One week later, Smith declared for the 2018 NFL Draft. While he waited until the last day for underclassmen to declare – he’s a junior – it was pretty much a foregone that Smith would turn pro. All logic and reasoning dictated that he should. “The decision to leave is not easy, but I know it is the right one,” Smith said. Yes, it was. Smith is considered an almost certain first-round pick. Some projections – including ESPN’s Mel Kiper — place him among the top 10 selections. For some perspective, the No. 10 pick in the 2017 draft, Patrick Mahomes, signed a contract worth $16.5 million and received a $10 million signing bonus. That said, everybody around Smith insists he struggled with the decision. “It was hard on him because he really loved being at UGA,” said Larry Harold, Smith’s coach when he was Macon County High School. As it is Smith is now preparing to become a pro. He signed on with CAA Football and is currently training for the NFL combine at EXOS Sports Performance in Phoenix, Ariz., according to his agent, Brian Ayrault of Atlanta. “He’s doing great,” Ayrault said Wednesday from Phoenix. “He’s here working out as we speak.” Ayrault said Smith was unavailable to talk but will be soon. We don’t need to hear from Smith to know that where he is at the moment is a long, long way from Montezuma, both literally and figuratively. Montezuma is located in south-central Georgia in the middle of Macon County and in the middle of nowhere, really. It’s mainly an agriculturally based community, with peaches being the No. 1 crop but also soy beans, cotton, peanuts and garden vegetables. There’s also a large pulpwood industry there. It’s also home to the armory of Bravo Company of the Georgia Army National Guard. Otherwise, not much else. The median income of the area is listed as $23,022, according to the local government’s website. Smith spent his last year of living in Montezuma working part time on a crew digging wells for farm irrigation systems. From his sophomore to senior years at Macon County High School, in addition to playing football at a very high level, he was considered a model citizen. Not so much before that. Smith grew up with loving parents, Roderick Smith and Shaquana Thomas. But like a lot of people in that area, they had their hands full making a living. When Roquan was growing up, his father lived about an hour away in Macon where he worked construction. His mother lived in Oglethorpe, the next town over from Montezuma and just a short distance away but commuted a half-hour away each day to her full-time job at Fort Valley State University. With both parents gone to work each day, that left a lot of unsupervised time for Roquan and his siblings. Those include an older brother by a year, Rod Smith; and a younger sister and brother, Tyanna and Omar Richards. Smith allegedly wasn’t always making the best use of his idle time. That’s when Gloria Story stepped in to help out. “When I got there (to Macon County High School) at the end of his freshman year, I didn’t know too much about his home life,” said Harold, who is now the head coach and athletic director at Central High School in Macon. “But I know Gloria stepped in when there were some issues about helping with him. She took him in and provided a stable home life. They have a great home, her and her husband, Richard Story. They gave him everything he needed and not necessarily what he wanted. I feel like that was a life-changing moment in his life.” To this day, Smith refers to Story as his aunt, although she’s actually not. There were plenty of others around lending a hand, as well. His grandfather, Nathaniel Lamb, his grandmother Betty Smith, and his aunt, Shaquanda Baker, all contributed to Smith’s upbringing. There were other benefactors as well, such as Harold, Macon County principal Rickey Edmond and family friend Roy Yoder. But make no mistake about it. It’s Roquan’s mother who has his heart. “Oh, now he loves his Mama,” Harold said. “It’s for her he does everything he does.” In addition to his tremendous athleticism, Smith’s work ethic helped distinguished him at Georgia. His work in the training room – and at the training table – took him from 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, his size when he reported to UGA, to 6-2, 225, the size at which he’ll leave. Remarkably, Smith was able to do that without losing his tailback-worthy speed. He routinely has been timed at 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash but says he has been timed at — and plans to again be timed — in the 4.4s. His goal for the combine is to clock a sub-4.5. Regardless of what time he runs, Smith’s speed was on display week after week this past season for the Bulldogs and their opponents as Smith yanked down ballcarriers and receivers from sideline to sideline. Coach Kirby Smart called him the perfect inside linebacker for defending today’s run-pass-option-based spread offenses. “A tackling machine,” Smart called him. “Sideline-to-sideline, relentless, athletic, tough, competitive, leads, talks when needs to, quiet when he needs to be. He has impeccable character. I’m just proud of how hard he works and that he buys into what we believe.” Such offenses are also becoming more prevalent in the NFL. That’s why Smith continues to command such a high draft grade, even though he’s not the traditional size of pro linebackers. So whenever and wherever Smith eventually gets drafted, it’s clear he is going to fulfill his dream of becoming a professional athlete. It’s something that Harold says Smith communicated to him the first time they met at Macon County High School as coach and player. “I can’t wait to see him playing pro ball on TV,” Harold said. “He always talked that, about going to school, getting his degree and going on to the next level. Everything he talked about when he was in high school he has achieved. It’s just great to see. He’s come a long, long way. Not just as a football player. He’s matured so much, became more of a leader, more vocal. It’s just great seeing a kid like that go from a boy to a man.” Smith is scheduled to graduate with a degree in communications in December. Or at least he was before he decided to take this alternate route. But he should be fine. With a few million in the bank and at least few years in the NFL guaranteed, Smith will be able to come back to UGA to finish his education. And those closest to him fully expect Smith will. They’ve all had a hand in getting him to where he is. Seeing him get from here to there has left no doubters in Montezuma. “There have been some great athletes come through Macon County, and not a lot of them make it out,” Harold said. “He came from a loving community and a loving family that did everything they had to do to make sure he was able to achieve his dreams. He’d tell you the same thing.” We’ll be hearing from Smith soon enough. The post Montezuma lifted up Roquan Smith, and now UGA’s star linebacker will return favor appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS – Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are literally best friends and I’m sure they honestly don’t care, but it’s going to be very interesting to see which of the Georgia running backs is picked first in the NFL draft. They’re also very competitive with each other, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there might be a friendly wager involved. I’ll say this, though: I expect both of them to be selected by the end of the second day of the April 26-28 draft at least. And, regardless, I predict NFL success for both of these guys. The general consensus coming out of this season seemed to be that Michel will be the first of the Dogs’ duo to go off the board. The narrative is that Michel is the more versatile of the two backs. That’s an assertion that Chubb didn’t necessarily disagree with. He told me as much at one of the College Football Playoff media days. He said that Michel was probably a little better catching the ball out of the backfield. Certainly statistics back that up. At the end of their careers, Chubb had 30 catches for 362 yards and 4 touchdowns while Michel basically doubled him up had 64 receptions for 621 yards and 6 scores. But it’s not like Michel was a part-time flanker or anything like that. He had nine catches for 96 yards and one touchdown all season, with the lone TD catch not coming until the playoffs. And Chubb was actually utilized more in that fashion as a freshman while he was sharing time with Todd Gurley. Kind of forgotten from that season was that Chubb had 18 catches for 213 yards and scored twice via the pass that year. So, it could be argued that disparity was as much a function of role as it was anything else. Which is another thing I always liked about these two guys. I always thought they were at their best when they were interviewed side-by-side. That’s when their personality differences were the most stark. In case you weren’t paying attention, Chubb was the quiet and reserved one while Michel was (slightly) more talkative and certainly more flashy from the standpoint of his alter-ego as rapper flyguy2stackz. But they were also a mutual admiration society. Michel never begrudged Chubb always being the starter in the rotation. He joked that meant that Chubb had the harder role, coming out Saturday after Saturday against defenses that were jacked to stuff the run and would be selling out like a flea market on run blitzes. “He’s the one that has to take all that contact,” Michel said earlier this past season. “He was softening them up for me.” That trend was reflected in their rushing stats each of the last two seasons. Michel averaged more yards per carry than Chubb both years, 5.5 to 5.0 as juniors and 7.9 to 6.4 as seniors. And that might ultimately tip the ledger in Michel’s favor when it comes to their draft prospects this spring. Without question, Michel arrives at this juncture with less wear-and-tear on his body. Chubb had 740 carries in his career with the Bulldogs while Michel had 591. And it was Chubb that had to have his left knee rebuilt after that awful incident in Knoxville in 2015. Michel has had his own share of twists, pulls and bruises. And he actually played in one more game (47) than did his roommate in college. This much is certain: Together they were nearly an unstoppable force for the Bulldogs. They’ll go down as one of the most prolific running back duos of all time. Separately, they finished as the second and third rushers of all time at Georgia, with 4,744 and 3,638 yards, respectively. Between them, they scored 90 touchdowns, with 51 of those in Chubb’s column. Only Herschel Walker, with 52, had more. Wrap your head around that for a minute. And that’s what NFL executives are going to have to ponder between now draft day. Which one of these guys goes first and how high will they be taken? That’s anybody’s guess at this point. The theory is that the running back position has been devalued by the proliferation of passing in the NFL game over the years. But backs keep getting drafted in the early rounds, including the first. LSU’s Leonard Fournette went on the fourth pick last year and made good on it with 1,040 yards rushing and nine touchdowns this season. Christian McCaffrey was also a first-round selection and eight backs were selected in the first three rounds. Included in that bunch was Toledo’s Kareem Hunt, who led the NFL in rushing this year with 1,327 yards and was named rookie of the year. And we all know what Georgia’s Todd Gurley has done for the Los Angeles Rams. Chubb and Michel’s former running mate had 1,305 yards rushing, 2,093 total yards and 19 touchdowns this past season. He said at the Rose Bowl he expects believes Chubb and Michel will both make great pros. As for their draft projections, they’re all over the board. Penn State’s Saquon Barkley is the consensus pick to be the first running back selected, followed by LSU’s Derrius Guice. Chubb and Michel generally are projected a little behind those guys, almost always close together and with no consensus as to which might be selected first. Of the different rankings I perused, Michel’s highest rating among draft-eligible backs was fourth by draftwire.com (which had Chubb fifth). WalterFootball.com had Michel fifth and Chubb sixth, while CBSSports.com have Michel sixth and Chubb seventh. But then, ESPNInsider had Chubb seventh and Michel ninth and DraftTek.com had Chubb sixth and Michel eighth. Then there was ESPN’s well-known draft expert Todd McShay, who had Chubb fourth and did not include Michel in his Top 10. Wrote McShay: “Chubb rushed for more than 100 yards in 13 straight games before tearing several knee ligaments (not including his ACL) in 2015. He didn’t have the same explosiveness in 2016 coming off the injury, but he has quick feet for his size (listed at 5-foot-10, 228 pounds). Right now, he projects as a Day 2 pick, but he could move up the boards if he can regain some of that agility.” If you know Chubb like I do, I’m sure he’s busy “regaining that agility” as we speak. But same for Michel. These two Dogs spent the last four years trying to out-do each other in the weight room and on the practice field and in games. Maybe one team will take a page out of Georgia’s book and draft both of these guys. Wouldn’t that be something? The post Nick Chubb or Sony Michel: Who goes first in NFL draft not a sure thing appeared first on DawgNation.