New England Patriots

Mar 20, 2019; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart (left) and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watch the workout during Pro Day at the UGA Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

  • Georgia’s 2022 Pro Day isn’t just one of the most anticipated of this draft cycle, but perhaps among the most in recent memory. The defending National Champion Bulldogs are currently projected to have 12 picks in the top 100, most of them from the team’s record-setting defense.

    There’s been a number of players from Georgia linked to the Patriots in this draft cycle. Now, that speculation should only ramp up after Bill Belichick, Matt Patricia, and Matt Groh were in attendance for the workouts. That trio represents arguably the Patriots’ three biggest decision-makers.

    In recent years, Belichick has drawn heavily from the Georgia program. The Patriots took two Bulldogs in the first round in 2018 in tackle Isaiah Wynn and running back Sony Michel. There was also a Georgia product among the team’s captains last year in center David Andrews, who was signed as a UDFA in 2015.

    Who could be joining the Athens-to-Foxborough pipeline in 2022? Here’s a look at the (long) list of Georgia’s top prospects in the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft…

  • DL Jordan Davis

    Nov 27, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Jordan Davis (99) in action against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the second quarter at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

    Davis was the star of the NFL Combine after crushing the physical testing – including a 4.78 second 40 – at 6-foot-6, 341 pounds. While some have speculated that he could fall in the draft as teams devalue the nose tackle position, his Combine showed what his tape suggested – that he is more than just a two-down player. As the draft approaches it feels less and less likely he’ll be there when the Patriots pick at 21st overall, but it’s not impossible.

  • DE Travon Walker

    ATHENS, GA – NOVEMBER 06: Travon Walker #44 of the Georgia Bulldogs sacks Tyler Macon #10 of the Missouri Tigers in the second half at Sanford Stadium on November 6, 2021 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

    Walker is another elite athlete who ran a 4.51 40 at 6-foot-5, 272 pounds. He’s the kind of edge defender the Patriots tend to look for, especially given what he can do against the run. Like Davis, it’s a longshot he’s on the board at 21.

  • LB Nakobe Dean

    ATHENS, GA – OCTOBER 02: Nakobe Dean #17 of the Georgia Bulldogs reacts in the second half against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Sanford Stadium on October 2, 2021 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

    Dean is one of the more intriguing first round players in this draft. He’s already shown NFL-level talent, great football instincts and IQ, and is a tremendous athlete. Yet as a 5-foot-11, 229 pound middle linebacker, hits fits in terms of NFL teams may be limited to specific schemes. That could cause him to fall in the draft, but at the same time if a team that is a fit likes him, he could be a top 20 talent.

    When it comes to the Patriots – who are looking for more athletic linebackers – Dean certainly checks some boxes. Yet to go from 260 pound linebackers to 230 pound linebackers would be quite the jump and may require some schematic changes to the defense. For instance, based on the current scheme Dean is built more like a Patriots’ safety. For reference, Kyle Dugger is 6-foot-2, 225 pounds.

  • DE Devonte Wyatt

    NASHVILLE, TN – SEPTEMBER 25: Devonte Wyatt #95 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrates against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the first quarter at Vanderbilt Stadium on September 25, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

    Another star of the Bulldogs’ defensive line, Wyatt is a disruptive defensive tackle that can create pressure up the middle. At 6-foot-3, 304 pounds, he could likely play as a 3-4 end as well. He’s currently projected to go in the second half of the first round.

  • S Lewis Cine

    Jan 10, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive back Lewis Cine (16) against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2022 CFP college football national championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    On one hand, Cine is the kind of physical box safety that the Patriots tend to target. On the other hand, would they use a premium add to that position with two established starters already in place in Dugger and Adrian Phillips? Cine is currently projected to be a second-round pick. Cine has local ties – he played his first three years of high school football at Everett High and was named Massachusetts Defensive Player of the Year in 2017.

  • WR George Pickens

    ATLANTA, GEORGIA – JANUARY 01: George Pickens #1 of the Georgia Bulldogs makes a catch for a first quarter touchdown against Bryan Cook #6 of of the Cincinnati Bearcats during Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 01, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham /Getty Images)

    Pickens is Georgia’s top offensive player in this class. He’s struggled with injuries and played just 12 games over the last two years. Still, when he’s been on the field he’s been a productive deep threat averaging 15 yards per catch and 14 career touchdowns on just 90 catches.

    If the Patriots are looking for a replacement for Nelson Agholor, he could make sense in the second round – assuming everything checks out medically. At the same time, if the injuries cause him to fall he could find himself in a situation similar to a former Georgia Bulldog receiver, Malcolm Mitchell.

  • LB Quay Walker

    Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy is sacked by Georgia linebacker Quay Walker during the second half of U-M’s 34-11 loss in the Orange Bowl on Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Florida.

    While many Patriots fans have focused on Dean, Walker may be the best overall fit for the Patriots not just at linebacker, but of any player off the Georgia defense this year. At 6-foot-4, 241 pounds he has the build to handle the downhill responsibilities that come with the inside linebacker role in New England, but has the athleticism to move sideline-to-sideline as well. He’s currently projected to be a Day 2 pick.

  • CB Derion Kendrick

    A pass to Tennessee wide receiver Cedric Tillman (4) in the end zone is broken up by Georgia defensive back Derion Kendrick (11) and Georgia defensive back Lewis Cine (16) during an SEC football game between Tennessee and Georgia at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021.

    The lone corner in Georgia’s draft class this year, Kendrick could end up getting some attention from the Patriots who have a need at the position. Kendrick possesses two non-football traits that the Patriots have valued in the past – he’s a converted wide receiver and a transfer player who began his career at Clemson. Between those the two schools, he has a ton of big game experience. On the field, he’s a ball-hawking primarily boundary zone player who will contribute against the run. However, his skillset is still very raw. He’s projected to be a late third or early fourth round pick.

  • OL Jamaree Salyer

    Dec 12, 2020; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Georgia Bulldogs offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer (69) gets ready to block against the Missouri Tigers during the first half at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

    Salyer was a tackle for the Bulldogs, but could move inside to guard at the next level. The Patriots generally value that kind of versatility in Day 3 offensive linemen, and will also like how well he played in the CFB semifinal game against Michigan’s first-round pass rushing duo of Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo.

  • RB James Cook

    ATHENS, GA – SEPTEMBER 18: James Cook #4 of the Georgia Bulldogs rushes during the first half against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Sanford Stadium on September 18, 2021 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

    Cook is one of the best all-around backs in this class. He totaled over 1,000 all-purpose yards for the Bulldogs last year in a receiving back role. The Patriots did bring back 30-year-old James White in free agency, but if they want to invest in a long-term third down back while giving that player time to develop, Cook would make a lot of sense early on Day 3.

  • LB Channing Tindall

    Jan 10, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Channing Tindall (41) against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2022 CFP college football national championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Tindall is somewhere between Dean and Walker in terms of both size and skillset. In a strong linebacker class, there’s a chance he falls as somewhat of a ‘tweener’ but is currently projected to go late on Day 2 or early on Day 3.

  • Zamir White

    Nov 20, 2021; Athens, Georgia, USA; Georgia Bulldogs running back Zamir White (3) runs for a touchdown against the Charleston Southern Buccaneers during the first quarter at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

    While Cook was the Bulldogs’ multi-purpose back, White did most of the downhill running. He was also a team captain in 2021. For the short term, the Patriots are set on early down backs with the combination of Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson. At the same time, they’ve taken a running back in three of the last four drafts. White is in that late Day 2 to early Day 3 range.

  • G Justin Shaffer

    Sep 11, 2021; Athens, Georgia, USA; Georgia Bulldogs offensive lineman Justin Shaffer (54) in action against the UAB Blazers at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

    Moving down the draft board now, Shaffer is a project player expected to go in the fifth or sixth round. At 6-foot-4, 314 pounds he plays with a mean streak, but will need to sure up his technique at the next level.

  • P Jake Camarda

    Nov 23, 2019; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs punter Jake Camarda (90) follows through on a punt against the Texas A&M Aggies during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

    Yes, even Georgia’s punter is projected to be drafted. Camarda is currently a projected seventh-round pick in what is a strong punter class.

  • TE John FitzPatrick

    ATLANTA, GEORGIA – JANUARY 01: Tight end John Fitzpatrick #86 of the Georgia Bulldogs runs with the ball after making a reception during the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 01, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

    FitzPatrick was primarily a blocking tight end for Georgia in 2021 at 6-foot-7, 250 pounds. The Patriots don’t have a need at tight end, but his size could make him valuable as a practice squad player. As a projected UDFA it would likely only cost the Pats a roster spot to bring him.