2022 NFL Draft: Everything you need to know about Georgia's defense

Apr 14th 2022

Charles McDonald

Draft boards and mock drafts this year are littered with defenders from the reigning national champion Georgia Bulldogs — and for good reason. The defense that allowed 268.5 yards per game, 10.2 points per game and 14.8 first downs per game is, unsurprisingly, littered with NFL prospects that teams can't wait to get into their organizations.

Arguably the best college defense of all time was made up of guys that project to play in the NFL for a long time. These boys are COLD. And mean. And nasty. And fast. And check a lot of boxes on the versatility that NFL defenses demand from their players in the current climate.

There's a lot to cover here. Seven players from Georgia's historically good defense have a chance to hear their name called during the first two days of the draft. A single team having seven quality draft prospects would make them one of the better college football teams in the country — this is all on one unit!

One majestic, national championship winning unit.

The easiest way to look at the Georgia defense is to break it down by the position groups and where they line up on the field.

Like any elite superhero group, the backbone of their success is always plenty of muscle.

The Front Line

Names to know for the 2022 NFL Draft: DL Jordan Davis, DL Travon Walker, DL Devonte Wyatt

Davis and Wyatt are the anchors of the Georgia defense and they just spent their final seasons in Athens demolishing offensive lines that dared to line up against them. Davis (6'6", 341) and Wyatt (6'3", 304) have different builds, but they both project to be versatile interior defensive linemen at the next level.

Let's start with Wyatt because Davis is one of the most unique players to ever enter the draft. Wyatt blew up the combine running a 4.77 at his weight and that explosiveness shows up on film as he was able to knife his way through offensive lines en route to seven tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks last season.

Wyatt is a good fit for teams looking for a starter that comfortably play one and three technique. He doesn't have the otherworldly upside of Davis, but that's not a slight to Wyatt. Think about the impact and flexibility that Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei gave the Panthers at the peak of their defensive run in the mid-2010s. That's the player Wyatt can be in the NFL.

Davis has limitless potential at the next level. His combine showed that he might be the rarest athlete to ever play in the NFL. (RAS data courtesy of Kent Lee Platte.)

4.78 at 341 pounds. It's one of the craziest feats ever accomplished at the NFL Combine. The speed shows up on his film, too. Davis has unbelievable range for a nose tackle, which is where he'll primarily be playing in the NFL.

There's fair reason to be concerned about Davis' conditioning considering his size, but that's something that won't be truly known until he gets to the NFL. Georgia was in a rare spot where they had so much talent (Jalen Carter should be at the top of your 2023 Draft prospect lists) that Davis didn't need to play a whole lot of snaps.

That doesn't mean he can't, it's just an unknown. Davis has work to do as a pass rusher, but his peaks as a pass rusher show he can absolutely demolish pockets.

Someone is going to take a swing on Davis high in the draft with the hopes of turning him into the next detonator of interior offensive lines for the next decade. There just aren't many players with his athletic profile that ever come along. Even with the questions about taking a nose tackle at the top of the draft, Davis is a rare enough type of player to pull the trigger even against the wisdom of conventional positional value.

Travon Walker has the largest projection of the three defensive linemen. Like Davis and Wyatt, Walker also had an all time performance at the NFL Combine. Walker ran a 4.51 40-yard dash at 272 pounds!

As far as run defense goes, Walker is about as good as it gets. Perhaps not in terms of overall production, but in terms of playing his role within Georgia's defense and playing with good technique. For a bigger defensive end prospect, Walker (#44) can really run and string out running plays to the sideline — and he hits with the intention of bringing pain.

Even though Walker is slated to go in the top few picks of the draft, there are legitimate concerns about his game. He's about as raw as they come as a pass rusher and needs work in this area before he'll really be able to get after quarterbacks consistently.

At very least, Walker is a high floor run defender with the athleticism to make splash plays under a creative defensive coordinator. Walker is a risky pick due to where he currently is as a pass rusher, but his athleticism and ability to start early will entice a team into taking him as a lottery ticket.

The Linebackers

Nakobe Dean, Quay Walker and Channing Tindall are the names to remember here for the Georgia defense.

The first thing to know about this trio of linebackers is they can all fly. Dean, Walker and Tindall all have the ability to cover sideline-to-sideline and hawked down plays that Georgia's defensive line initially disrupted.

That speed definitely showed up at the Combine for Walker and Tindall — Tindall ran a blazing 4.47 in the 40-yard dash.

And for fun, here's a clip of Tindall running down players faster than most defensive backs can.

Walker is the most physical of the group, just simply looking to hit the ballcarrier as hard as he possibly can on every snap. Walker's physicality and speed, like basically everyone else on Georgia's defense will serve him well at the next level.

Nakobe Dean was unquestionably the best college player of the three, but seems to be the most divisive as a pro prospect. Dean is on the small side for linebackers, measuring in at 5'11" and 229 pounds for the NFL Combine, but he packs a punch and has just as much range as the other linebackers on the defense.

Even though he's a smaller player, Dean can play in the box with strength and physicality. He's great a sifting through traffic and his explosion at the point of attack helps make up for his lack of size.

All of these guys have some questions to answer in coverage, in Dean's case his ability to play in man coverage against bigger tight ends in the NFL, but they should all be on the field early as rookies and producing early for their teams.

The Lynchpin

Lewis Cine is one of the best safeties in the draft and he was crucial for Georgia's defensive success this year.

There is nothing that Cine can't do on the football field. He has range to play on the backend, ball skills and is one of the surest tacklers in the draft. He gets billed as a downhill hammer, and for good reason, but he can patrol deep and make quarterbacks think twice about launching a deep shot.

It's a bit of a redundant theme with these defenders, but Cine also showed out at the NFL Combine and painted the picture of a complete safety prospect that doesn't have a lot of concerns moving to the next level.

Cine should have enough man coverage chops for teams to feel good about selecting him in the first round, but safety valuation in the NFL Draft can be a bit weird in the NFL Draft. As far as Cine's projection go, he can be just as impactful a player as Kyle Hamilton at the next level — he's that good.

What's interesting about Georgia's defense is they largely built this defense without the help of great edge rushers or cornerbacks. Derion Kendrick is another secondary player that's going to get drafted, but he projects to be more of a depth and special teams player at the next level.

This defense was built right down the middle with a group of players that would make the Monstars from Space Jam a little nervous. All of these guys aren't going to hit, but it damn sure feels like you can't go wrong with adding any of them to an NFL defense.