Jeff Owens. Photo from Georgiadogs.com
One man's opinion of the Top 5 NFL prospects on the team excluding true freshmen. They are ranked based on a combination of potential and what they've shown to date.
1. Jeff Owens1. Jeff Owens -- Owens seemed to improve in every game last year. He reminds me of a slimmer Jonathan Sullivan or a not quite as quick Tommie Harris. I'm expecting a huge increase in his strength going into his Sophomore year. Defensive tackles with his size, quickness and speed don't grow on trees. The sky is the limit if he stays healthy. Fourth on the team in sacks in 2005 leading all defensive tackles.
2. Charles Johnson
3. Quentin Moses
4. Paul Oliver
5. Thomas Brown
Charles Johnson vs. GT. Photo by Jim Hipple
2. Charles Johnson -- While not as fast as Moses, he's stronger and has more of an NFL body. Moses would need to put on 20 lbs. to get his full value at the combine. Described by Coach Richt as "unblockable" this spring. Although, that may be based on the limited talent of our offensive tackles. Played running back and returned punts in high school when he wasn't mauling QBs at defensive end.
Moses and Owens clobber Russell. Photo by Jim Hipple
3. Quentin Moses -- SEC defensive player of the year candidate for 2005. Combines speed and effort to create major problems for offensive tackles and offensive coordinators. Reminds me of a thicker Jason Taylor. Landed 11.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss in 2005
Paul Oliver. Image Scout.com
4. Paul Oliver -- After a rocky true freshman year that saw a redshirt, a suspension, pouting and frustration on his part and the coach's part, Oliver has grown up considerably. His game has matured light years since the abuse he took at the hands of the Vols in 2004. In 2005, he played exceptional football against Sidney Rice and Calvin Johnson. He will be the leader of the defensive secondary this year, and one of the best CBs in the SEC. Lead the team in fumbles forced and was second in INTs in 2005.
Thomas Brown vs. GT. Photo by Jim Hipple
5. Thomas Brown -- The real question is...will we give enough carries to Brown to let him shine? Only one back last year got 20 carries in a game, and it was Brown who rushed for 144 yards against the Gamecocks. He's got the speed and moves plus more strength than many guys much larger. He just needs the carries.
Let's look at the two biggies that I didn't list. Kregg Lumpkin and Mohammad Massaquoi. Lumpkin is a terrific running back prospect, and maybe the #6 guy on the list. But he has struggled with injuries in two of his three years here. Hamstrings and knee injuries tend to depress the value of an NFL pick. Brown has greater speed and his power has been incredible.
Massaquoi is one of the top college players on the team, but I doubt that he has the speed to get drafted by the NFL as highly as the other five guys.