Here's something I've been throwing around in my head this week: It's a given that Georgia's defense is loaded with NFL talent, and Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze voiced that this week. But just how loaded is it?
Mark Richt, when I asked him about it this week, cited his 2002 defense as having a lot of talent. And indeed that defense ended up having three future first-round picks (Jonathan Sullivan in 2003, and Thomas Davis and David Pollack in 2005), in addition to five others who got picked (Tony Gilbert, Odell Thurman, Robert Geathers, Bruce Thornton, Boss Bailey). And Bailey was a second-rounder.
But if you project out, the potential is there for the 2012 defense to have more first-rounders, and almost assuredly more drafted overall. Let me put on my Todd McShay hat:
- Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree are pretty much certain first-rounders whenever they leave, and most are guessing it will be after this season.
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- John Jenkins is predicted by many to be a first-round pick, although you never know with nose tackles. He seems a second-rounder at worst.
- Shawn Williams has been discussed as a possible first-rounder. That may end up being a reach, but his worst-case seems third round.
- Five other seniors should all at least get drafted, it's a matter of second or third day: Sanders Commings, Bacarri Rambo, Cornelius Washington, Abry Jones, Branden Smith. Junior Kwame Geathers will also get drafted by someone, whether he enters this year or next.
- Looking much further down the road, Jordan Jenkins looks like a potential first-rounder. ESPN's Todd McShay agrees, ranking Jenkins the nation's fourth-best defensive prospect among underclassmen. That's underclassmen, not just freshmen. (Georgia tailback Todd Gurley is fifth on offense.)
- Finally, you have to think the likes of Damian Swann and Amarlo Herrera (eligible after the 2013 season) have a strong future.
So to review, that's two certain first-rounders, three more who could be, and a grand total of 12 who could be drafted. And that's for a defense that only ranks seventh in the SEC.
So what does all of this have to do with my weekly picks column? Not much. Other than I think Georgia should probably beat Auburn, which has one of the worst offenses anyone has ever seen in the SEC.
GEORGIA (-14.5) at AUBURN: Personal observation on why Gene Chizik doesn't have rope despite winning it all two years ago: It's not just Cam Newton, it's Gene Chizik. He hasn't done anything to engender passion from Auburn fans or the media, so when the going gets tough, as it has, no one is going to rally around him. The stoic, downright boring veneer works fine when you win. When you lose, or even are just mediocre, it doesn't. Show a pulse, or get shown the door. It's just that simple. Pick: Georgia covers.
TEXAS A&M at ALABAMA (-13.5): We're all sitting here breathlessly awaiting an intriguing matchup between Johnny Football and the Alabama defense, but you know Nick Saban, that spoilsport, will squelch any intrigue pretty quickly. We wish it weren't so. We wish the Aggies would move the ball and make this fun. But Nick Saban doesn't do fun. And Nick Saban doesn't fail. Sigh. Pick: Alabama covers.
ARKANSAS at SOUTH CAROLINA (-14): There was a report Friday that TCU's Gary Patterson is the leading contender for the Arkansas job. Seeing as how it's only early November and Patterson's team is still playing relevant games, I'd say this pretty much ruins the chance that Patterson will be the next coach at Arkansas. Pick: Arkansas covers, South Carolina wins.
MISSISSIPPI STATE at LSU (-15): Remember when Mississippi State started 7-0, after not beating anyone, and with each win the Bulldogs said they were for real and were proving it? Yeah, good times. Pick: LSU covers.
VANDERBILT at OLE MISS (-2.5): The winner of this game becomes bowl eligible. Wait, you're telling me either Vanderbilt or Ole Miss will be eligible in early November? That's ... unexpected. Pick: Ole Miss covers.
MISSOURI at TENNESSEE (-3): And then there's this game. Pick: Tennessee covers.
KANSAS STATE (-7) at TCU: Georgia fans with hopes of a BCS championship bid had better keep a very close eye on this. It may be the last chance for Kansas State to go down. Pick: TCU covers, Kansas State wins.
OREGON (-28.5) at CALIFORNIA: Uh, yeah, Oregon ain't losing this one. Pick: Oregon covers.
NOTRE DAME (-19) at BOSTON COLLEGE: Likewise. Pick: Notre Dame covers.
MARYLAND at CLEMSON (-31): Update on the alma mater's powerhouse football program: Not only is every scholarship quarterback out for the season with an injury, but the only two players of worth on offense, the star receiver and tailback, are out for this game. Also, the other day I got my Maryland alumni magazine in the mail and immediately tore a muscle in my back. Coincidence? Pick: Clemson covers.
Florida (-27) covers Louisiana-Lafayette.
North Carolina (-7.5) covers Georgia Tech.
Stanford (-4) covers Oregon State.
Louisville (-1.5) covers Syracuse.
Baylor covers, Oklahoma (-21.5) wins.
Last week: 9-6 vs. spread, 14-1 overall
Season: 64-71 vs. spread, 100-35 overall