By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Georgia Pro Day is taking place on Wednesday. And to the surprise of no one who’s been paying attention, Bill Belichick is there to scout their top prospects for the NFL Draft.
The Bulldogs have become a prominent Patriots pipeline in recent years. In 2015 they signed center David Andrews as an undrafted free agent. All he’s done is start 57 of his 60 career games and help shepherd the Patriots offense to two Super Bowl championships in his four seasons.
Speaking of the Super Bowl, former Georgia receiver Malcolm Mitchell played a big role in the Patriots’ comeback against the Falcons in Super Bowl LI before knee injuries derailed his Patriots career. Belichick dove right back into the Georgia pool in the 2018 draft, spending his two first-round picks on a pair of Dawgs in offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn and running back Sony Michel.
We’ll see where Wynn goes from here after losing his entire rookie season to a torn ACL, but he looks like the incumbent to take over at left tackle after Trent Brown departed for the Raiders. Michel, meanwhile, scored the most rushing touchdowns in a single postseason since the merger with six in three games.
So clearly, drafting out of Georgia has been fruitful for Belichick and the Patriots. Twenty-one players are working out at the 2019 Georgia Pro Day, and five of them are wide receivers. Three participated in the Combine and should all be drafted or signed. The Pats could target one of them if they want to find the next Mitchell.
Here’s who Belichick could have an eye on at the Georgia pro Day, plus some other notable prospects that could fit the Patriots.
— WR Riley Ridley. The younger brother of dynamic Falcons wideout Calvin Ridley, Riley should be drafted on day two. He could be there for the Patriots at the 56th pick, or within that range if (when?) they move around the board. Ridley projects as a physical possession receiver, which could be attractive to Belichick and Tom Brady. The Pats could use a true outside receiver with that kind of skill set. His lack of high-end speed and weak 7.22 three-cone time makes him unexciting after the catch, which could turn them off.
— WR Mecole Hardman. Belichick was spotted watching closely as Hardman ran his three-cone. Hardman is more athletic than Ridley, but less polished. His route-running could stand to improve, but his explosiveness has drawn comparisons to Tyreek Hill. He’s also versatile, having returned kicks & punts at Georgia. As a potential slot receiver of the future, Hardman may be the most attractive Georgia prospect for Belichick. He’ll be available on day two.
— WR Terry Godwin III. The Patriots do love their three-cone drills, and Godwin had the seventh-best at the Combine at 6.96. His short-area quickness and route-running should make him a potential Patriots target for the later rounds. Godwin is slight at 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, but that’s nothing new in Foxborough. Perhaps Belichick takes him in to compete with Braxton Berrios as a long-term slot option and depth piece.
Meanwhile, at other positions…
— LB D’Andre Walker. A projected day two pick, Walker should be able to contribute as a run defender right away. The tools are there to develop into a good pass rusher, too, but that’s more of a project. He could fit as 3-4 outside linebacker or 4-3 defensive end. Walker’s versatility should at least catch Belichick’s eye.
— DL Jonathan Ledbetter. Expected to be more of a late-round flyer, Ledbetter’s great size (6-foot-3, 277 pounds) should get him a job somewhere. But his draft stock is lacking due to uncertainty over what kind of defensive lineman he really is. Belichick may actually like the possibility of using him in a variety of ways. But Ledbetter would likely top out as a rotational interior defender.
— OL Lamont Gaillard. Can’t list Georgia prospects without adding an offensive lineman. Gaillard mainly played right guard and center for the Dawgs, so he obviously doesn’t fill a pressing need for the Patriots. But they may like his leadership and scoff at the idea that he’s undersized (6-foot-3) by NFL O-line standards, like they did with Isaiah Wynn.
— LS Nick Moore. Sorry. Had to do it.
Keep all of these prospects in mind as we get closer to the draft, especially the receivers. Don’t be surprised if Ridley, Hardman, or Godwin end up getting the call from Belichick on draft weekend.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at email@example.com.