It's November 2022, and Georgia is currently ranked #1 in every recognized poll. They also have an inside track to the SEC Championship game, high odds to make the playoff, and perhaps even repeat as national champions. After setting a modern era NFL record with 15 players drafted off of last year's championship team, many assumed that 2022 would be a rebuilding year for Georgia. So far that has not been the case.
Reader: "You're getting way ahead of yourself, dude!"
Me: "Buckle up bitch, we're just getting started."
Given that Georgia was expected to take a step back in 2022, I find myself increasingly interested in what the roster will look like in 2023. You know, the year where Georgia was supposed to be good enough to compete for a championship again. For this post I'm going to try to project what the offense will look like next fall, and I'll take a look at the defense at some point in the near future. I'll do my best to make educated guesses as to which players will be leaving for the NFL. Some will be obvious, some not so obvious. I'll also try to weed out which players will graduate and not return. This will be a bit trickier because some seniors could still retroactively declare a redshirt and return for a 5th or even 6th season given that 2020 didn't count against anyone's eligibility. I'll highlight some potential transfer candidates, but these shouldn't be taken as hard predictions. I'll also touch on some positions that might look to the transfer portal in order to fill out the depth chart. There will be a decent amount of speculation so bear with me. A lot of the information we have will probably change over the next few months, but as things stand now this is what we're looking at for the 2023 offense.
We'll start on the offensive line. I believe it is likely that starting center, Sedrick Van Pran-Granger, and both starting tackles, Broderick Jones and Warren McClendon leave for the NFL. Guard play struggled early this fall, but has improved greatly since the beginning of the season. It's not impossible that one or more guards on the roster would leave early for the NFL. Both starters Xavier Truss and Tate Ratledge will be draft eligible as will their top backup Devin Willock, but we'll operate under the assumption that everyone returns.
That being said, the current guard rotation probably remains as is for the most part. Ratledge, Truss, and Willock will return as experienced starters. Ratledge and Truss took control of the starting roles with Willock rotating in at both spots. Willock has taken over at left guard and played well while Truss has been out with an injury. I can't rule out the possibility that the odd man out after spring practice looks for greener pastures in the transfer portal, but I still think there have been enough snaps going around to keep everyone happy. There are a lot of talented players waiting in the wings here as well. Young players like Micah Morris, Dylan Fairchild, and Jared Wilson will have an opportunity to emerge here, but it will be difficult to supplant the established players above if they all stick around.
At tackle the obvious man to step in if Jones and/or McClendon leave is former 5 star prospect, Amarius Mims. Mims, has already been rotating with the first team offensive unit early in games. He was basically a third starting tackle before sustaining an MCL injury against Florida which is currently still keeping him out. Frankly, he's probably the most physically gifted tackle on the team, but Jones and McClendon are both too good to sit, and they also have an experience advantage over Mims who is just a second year player. Mims has played almost exclusively at right tackle, but I wouldn't rule out the possibility of Mims moving over to the left side of the ball next year. The other tackle spot should be a wide open competition, but Georgia will have plenty of options here. As many of you may remember, Mims briefly entered the transfer portal in the offseason before returning to the good guys. This caused him to miss the spring G-Day game. In his absence, a few players got significant looks at the tackle spots behind McClendon and Jones. Former 3 star recruit Austin Blaske has been one of the first players off the bench. He was considered somewhat of a project coming out of high school in 2020, but has established himself as a top backup at tackle. He also spent a good bit of time at center in the spring. Blaske rotated between both positions during the G-Day game as did redshirt freshman Jared Wilson. Wilson was also a 3 star recruit out of high school and established himself as a versatile backup in just his second year with the program. True freshman, Earnest Greene turned heads when he started at left tackle with the second team offense as an early enrollee last spring. Greene was thought to be more of an interior lineman coming out of high school, but he did enough in a very short amount of time to catapult himself into the two deep on the outside. He has been sidelined with an injury for most of the fall, but monitor his recovery because he could be a serious factor here. There is also true freshman, Aliou Bah, who, at 6'5 330, will look to get himself in the mix for the open tackle spot. Former four star recruit, Chad Lindberg, would be entering his 4th season with the program in 2023. If he was going to make a jump into the two deep it had better be this spring.
I saved this one for last because it's not clear to me which direction this will go. Van Pran-Granger's top backup has been veteran Warren Ericson. Ericson has played both center and guard in his career, and most notably started most of the 2021 season at right guard before giving way to younger talent and taking a backup role this season. Ericson is a senior in his 5th year with the program. If he thought he had the chance to return as the starting center he might consider declaring one of those retroactive redshirt years I referenced earlier. Ericson is an experienced blocker and a dependable snapper, but he lacks the physical ability that the rest of the interior players on Georgia's two deep display. Because of that we'll assume that Ericson graduates and is not on the roster in 2023. As previously mentioned both Wilson and Blaske saw extensive time at center last spring. I won't venture a guess as to who the starter will be, but these two will definitely be in the mix. There are other interior linemen who could emerge as well, but at this time I would just be throwing out names and guessing as to who they could be. It's interesting to note that Van Pran-Granger in 2020 was the last true center to sign with Georgia so barring a transfer or new signee coming in, whoever takes this job will be converting from their normal position.
I don't have sources, but I know people who do and the general consensus seems to be that Darnell Washington will be heading to the NFL draft after this season. He's certainly ready from a physical standpoint. Things could change, but we'll assume he's not on the roster in 2023. It's wild to think that All-American, Brock Bowers is only in his second college football season. He'll be expected to continue headlining this group in 2023 and we should all expect Oscar Delp to take a big step forward here. The true freshman has carved out a spot for himself in a room that is crowded with talent. Arik Gilbert seems to be continuing to make positive strides after sitting out the entire 2021 season. He's still not where most dawg fans had expected or hoped he would be by this stage, but if he continues to improve on and off the field he could really become an impact player. It's not a controversial take to say that Gilbert may be the most physically gifted player in his position group right now, and we are all pulling for him. Ryland Goede and Brett Seither will both be seniors in 2023. They were both highly sought after recruits coming out of high school, but they have combined for very few significant snaps since joining the program in 2019. It wouldn't be a surprise if one or both were tempted to take a look at the portal this offseason to see if they can find better opportunities for playing time elsewhere. There is also an influx of high caliber high school talent expected at this position.
I wouldn't expect to see much of a shakeup in this group unless some impact freshmen or transfers join the program. AD Mitchell is actually draft eligible, many might not remember that he graduated high school in 2020 despite not joining Georgia's program until 2021. However, I don't think he'll be a strong candidate to declare for the draft after missing the majority of the 2022 season with an ankle injury. Even if he returns and excels over these last few games I'm not sure if he'll have enough game tape to receive a favorable draft grade. We'll assume that Mitchell returns for 2023, and that will be an important piece of the offensive puzzle. Mitchell has established himself as a number 1 option at outside receiver. Ladd McConkey will be draft eligible as well, but it would be somewhat of a surprise if he left early. Ladd has proven himself to be versatile. He can play in the slot or outside, and he has taken on a much larger role in Mitchell's absence this season. He leads everyone in this position group with 507 yards and three touchdowns. Veterans who have battled through significant injuries in their career such as Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint, Dominic Blaylock, and Arian Smith should all be expected to return and hopefully will have renewed health. Then you have younger guys like Jackson Meeks, CJ Smith, Dillon Bell, Cole Speer and De'Nylon Morrisette. Bell and Meeks have seen sporadic action in Mitchell's absence with some positive results and the rest of that crew are waiting for their opportunity while they learn the offense. Kearis Jackson should be the only glaring departure from this group. Jackson is a 5th year senior who has been a stable presence over the course of his career. He hasn't been a game changer, but he has been reliable and managed to lead the team in receiving yards in 2020. Jackson will likely participate in a Pro Day and nobody will be surprised to see him on an NFL roster next year.
Kenny McIntosh is the most likely to make the jump to the NFL. It’s possible that he sticks around in an attempt to improve his stock given that he’s viewed by many as a better receiver than runningback, but versatility in today’s NFL is valued and Kenny has shown he has the ability to run between the tackles. Kendall Milton and Daijun Edwards are both draft eligible, but Edwards has only recently begun to see significant in-game workloads, and Milton has once again been held back by injuries which have become a theme during his three years in Athens. As such, I expect both of them to return in 2023. Branson Robinson will be in line for an increased role after showing significant promise during his freshman season and fellow freshman, Andrew Paul, was impressing in camp before going down with an ACL tear that ended his 2022 season before it started. Georgia is working to flip some big name recruits at this position, and after losing the only 2021 running back signee to the transfer portal we can definitely expect to see some new faces in this room next fall. There is also a strong possibility of a transfer joining Dell McGee’s group if a productive option comes available.
With legendary starter, Stetson Bennett on his way out after 6 seasons of college football the topic of his replacement will be a major discussion point for Georgia this spring. The easy answer is Carson Beck, who seems to have solidified himself as the number 2 quarterback waiting for his opportunity. Not everyone is confident in Beck's ability to take the reigns and keep Todd Monken's offense rolling, but Beck will certainly get a crack at it. At 6'4, 215 lbs, the former four star recruit has the measurables you like to see when it comes to size and arm talent. Beck is 23 for 30 with 4 touchdown passes so far this season with an impressive 197.9 rating in limited action. Next you have former 5 star recruit Brock Vandagriff who is in his second season with Georgia. He has yet to complete a pass in his young career, but in fairness he has only had three attempts to this point. In the 2021 spring game, Vandagriff completed 6 of 9 passes for 47 yards, and he also looked solid running the ball at times. As it currently stands, Vandagriff will be the highest rated former recruit in this position battle. Finally, there's freshman and current scout team quarterback, Gunner Stockton. Stockton is buried on the depth chart and has yet to play in a game this season, but there have been a few mentions of his progress impressing coaches early on. He's a former four star recruit and many expect him to make a serious push to be Georgia's starter in the spring. If Stockton were to win the starting job Georgia could see Beck and Vandagriff leave the program which would present a serious depth problem. If just one of these three decided to leave it would leave Georgia in a bad spot if whoever remained got injured. Georgia also doesn't have a 2023 quarterback on the commit list. That is subject to change, but after going all in and missing on Arch Manning, Kirby Smart seems to have set his sights on 2024 quarterback options. Because of these potential issues many around the program speculate that Georgia will look to the transfer portal for help at the quarterback position. This may only be for depth, but it's not out of the question that they find a good fit to come in and be the starter. I won't speculate as to who they could get, but this will be something to keep an eye on in the spring and perhaps beyond.
That's pretty much it, I'm tired of writing so I'm not going to waste my time on a conclusion. Let me know in the comments what you think or if I missed anything. End of post.
Edited by Craig Lawson