There are Two Kinds of Apples

Dean Legge tells us what the NFL Draft proves about Georgia's teams.

ATHENS – Not that long ago – just after the 2009 season – there was a raging debate about talent vs. coaching on the Dawg Post message boards.

Needless to say a few years later the results are pretty clear – Georgia wasn't very talented as the new old decade gave way to the new. That was my argument all along, you see, but for many Richt haters or Willie Martinez bashers they saw an opportunity to say how bad Georgia's coaching was at the time, and they took it.

They also said Todd Grantham, the new defensive coordinator, would do a much better job with Georgia than Martinez did. Frankly he did do a better job, but he had batter players, which is kind of the point.

As an aside – it is interesting how much hope there is just after a coaching change at any level. The last guy was an idiot, and we can always do better. We got rid of him, and so we will do better.

Until you don't.

Back to the point. My argument about the 2009 and 2010 defenses was that they really just weren't that great. The NFL and its annual Draft, proved that I was correct. Here is the review – Georgia was 8-5 in 2009 while allowing five teams to score more than 30 points a game on them. The 2010 team was 6-7 and also allowed five teams to score more than 30 points a game on them.

It was a dark time for the defensive Dawgs. The reality, really, was that Georgia simply didn't have the firepower it needed on defense to get the job done. The players on the field were either at the start of a long career (Bacarri Rambo and Shawn Williams), or just were not that great (Jeff Owens, Prince Miller, Bryan Evans).

No Georgia team is ever without talent. That's what annoys people when I say those teams were not very talented. The 2009 team had Justin Houston and Geno Atkins – both have been NFL stars. Reshad Jones and Brandon Boykin have had good careers and were both starters on that 2009 team.

In 2010, Houston and Boykin returned, but the team transitioned to the 3-4, and you could tell important parts were missing and you could tell that the defense on the field was just plain too young. That's when Rambo, Cornelious Washington, DeAgelo Tyson, Sanders Commings and Alec Ogletree first got starting reps. Was that team not talented? Not necessarily, but they were young and were missing two key pieces.

Georgia defenders drafted in 2010-11

Jeff Owens - 1 career NFL game played
Kade Weston - 0 career NFL games played
Rennie Curran - 9 career NFL games played
Geno Atkins - 57 career NFL games played
Reshad Jones - 60 career NFL games played
Justin Houston - 43 career NFL games played
Akeem Dent - 47 career NFL games played

Georgia defenders drafted in 2012-13

Brandon Boykin - 32 career NFL games played
DeAngelo Tyson - 23 career NFL games played
Jarvis Jones - 14 career NFL games played
Alec Ogletree - 16 career NFL games played
John Jenkins - 16 career NFL games played
Shawn Williams - 16 career NFL games played
Sanders Commings - 2 career NFL games played
Cornelius Washington - 2 career NFL games played
Bacarri Rambo - 11 career NFL games played

Those two pieces (Jarvis Jones and John Jenkins) came the following year along with Isaiah Crowell. Georgia went from 6-7 to the SEC Championship Game with basically the same defensive staff. A year later they came within four yards of winning the conference; again, same basic staff.

So the argument that the coaching was bad was, as usual, overdone. You need apples to make apple pie – Georgia had apples in 2009-10, but they were either not yet ripened enough or were spoiled.

In the end, the numbers don't lie. Georgia had nine defenders taken in the 2012 and 2013 NFL Drafts. Georgia had seven defenders taken in the 2010 and 2011 NFL Drafts. I talked with Todd Grantham briefly just after the Liberty Bowl on New Year's Eve. He knew what I knew…

He asked me how many Georgia defensive players had been drafted in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft in the last few years. He knew what I knew – there had been none since the Colts took Tim Jennings with the #62 overall pick in 2006.

In other words, most of the defensive talent at Georgia, at least at the NFL saw it, was not truly elite. Not elite in the way that Knowshon Moreno, Matthew Stafford, A.J. Green, and Mohamed Massaquoi had been while playing with them. Georgia didn't have game changers on defense.

What Grantham knew, but didn't say at the time was that he had two game changers on his team. But one was a true freshman (Alec Ogletree) and the other was sitting out due to transfer rules (Jarvis Jones).

But even the depth on Georgia's defensive side of the ball wasn't considered great by those picking at the NFL level. Five Georgia defenders selected in the Drafts from 2008-2010 were fifth round selections or worse.

But where you get drafted is only a barometer of where you are at that moment in time. Perhaps a better measure of you as a player is what you do once you get on the field.

The group drafted in 2010-11 has had the ability to play in 416 games in the last four years (5 defensive players drafted in 2010 = 320 total regular season games + 2 defensive players drafted in 2011 = 96 total regular season games; 320 + 96 = 416 total games)

That group has played in 52% of total possible games.

The group drafted in 2012-13 has had the ability to play in 176 games in the last two years (2 defensive players drafted in 2012 = 64 total regular season games + 7 defensive players drafted in 2013 = 112 total regular season games; 64 + 112 = 176 total games)

That group has played in 75% of total possible games.

In other words if you played on the teams that were successful at Georgia you are more likely to play in the NFL than if you played on a team that was not successful. Why?

Probably because you were a better player than the guys who played on the teams that were not as good.

The jury is out. You can call it coaching. You can call it talent. You can call it whatever you want. But the fact is Georgia just wasn't as good back then, and if you couldn't tell when you were watching it on TV, then the NFL Draft proved it to you soon thereafter.

Georgia was 8-5 in 2013… my guess is that only a few players will get drafted this coming weekend, and likely they will be drafted low – at least that's what history says.

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