Way too early projection for Georgia’s 2017 depth chart

Oct 29, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart calls a play against the Florida Gators during the first half at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 29, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart calls a play against the Florida Gators during the first half at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 29, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart calls a play against the Florida Gators during the first half at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

There’s more than seven months until the start of the 2017 football season, National Signing Day just concluded and the roster is beginning to take shape.

Yeah it’s a little early but National Signing Day has concluded, everyone who is staying or going to the NFL has made up their minds so Georgia’s 2017 roster is beginning to take shape. Based on Ourlads 2016 depth chart and Georgia’s list of signees from 247Sports, we’re going to craft what Georgia’s depth chart should look like come September.

Sep 3, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Jacob Eason (10) attempts a pass during the 2016 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Georgia Dome. Georgia won 33-24. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 3, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Jacob Eason (10) attempts a pass during the 2016 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Georgia Dome. Georgia won 33-24. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Jacob Eason versus Jake Fromm headlines the depth chart on offense. Both quarterbacks have strengths that the other does not have. But they are also both extremely talented and will only get better through competition.

But I think Eason wins the battle to retain the starting spot. He came in as a third stringer last year and had to work his way up to being a starter, a job he earned early in 2016 and never lost. He’s played in the Georgia dome, in eight SEC games and the rivalry against Georgia Tech. His experience will put him over Fromm.

Fromm will be second string on the depth chart, but only in case of an injury to Eason. If Eason stays healthy, Fromm will be getting redshirted to get an extra year of separation between him and Eason.

Running backs

As for the running backs, there will be no change. Chubb and Michel returning ensures that. But I expect to see more Brian Herrien and Elijah Holyfield than we did in 2016. I could also see D’Andre Swift competing for playing time as well.

Both Christian Payne and Glenn Welch return as well so there won’t be any changes at fullback.

Quarterback and Running backs

Quarterback

Starter: Jacob Eason

QB2: Jake Fromm

QB3: Brice Ramsey

Running Back

RB1: Nick Chubb

RB2: Sony Michel

RB3: Brian Herrien

RB4: Elijah Holyfield

Fullback

FB1: Christian Payne

FB2: Glenn Welch

Sep 24, 2016; Oxford, MS, USA; Georgia Bulldogs tight end Isaac Nauta (18) stiff arms Mississippi Rebels linebacker Terry Caldwell (21) during the first quarter of the game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 24, 2016; Oxford, MS, USA; Georgia Bulldogs tight end Isaac Nauta (18) stiff arms Mississippi Rebels linebacker Terry Caldwell (21) during the first quarter of the game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah McKenzie leaving was a shocker and we will miss him, but with three freshmen coming in, there will be no shortage of talent at receiver. Terry Godwin is now the leader of that group as a junior and Javon Wims is the only senior we should see play at receiver. Otherwise Georgia’s top six receivers are mostly underclassmen.

But it’s a talented underclass with Riley Ridley becoming a sophomore and 4-star receivers Jeremiah Holloman, Mark Webb and Trey Blount arriving in Athens. We’ll also see some Michael Chigbu, but hen needs to clean up his drops if he wants to get more looks.

As for tight ends, it’s pretty much the same as last year. No real starter because the level of talent between the four is so close. Georgia has struggled getting the ball to tight ends these last two years, but the tight ends will get more looks now that Eason has a year of experience. Surveying the field and finding the tight ends should be easier for him this year.

This would be great for a tight end group that is probably the most underrated in America. Isaac Nauta was the no. 1 TE of 2016, Jackson Harris was the no. 5 TE of 2015 and Jeb Blezevich was the no. 3 TE of 2014. But it was Charlie Woerner who started early last year with Blazevich over Harris and Nauta.

Receivers and Tight Ends

Wide Receiver

Starter: Terry Godwin

Starter: Riley Ridley

Starter: Javon Wims

WR4: Jeremiah Holloman

WR5: Mark Webb

WR6: Trey Blount

Tight End

TE1: Isaac Nauta

TE2: Jeb Blazevich

TE3: Charlie Woerner

TE4: Jackson Harris

Nov 26, 2016; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs running back Nick Chubb (27) reacts with guard Greg Pyke (73) and tight end Jeb Blazevich (83) after scoring a touchdown against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Georgia Tech defeated Georgia 28-27. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 26, 2016; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs running back Nick Chubb (27) reacts with guard Greg Pyke (73) and tight end Jeb Blazevich (83) after scoring a touchdown against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Georgia Tech defeated Georgia 28-27. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The offensive line is what every Georgia fan was most concerned about for the 2017 recruiting class. Kirby Smart and co. responded to that concern by signing six offensive linemen including JUCO transfer D’Marcus Hayes who is the no. 2 JUCO OT in the nation.

Then there’s the no. 5 OT out of high School Isaiah Wilson, no. 9 OT Andrew Thomas, no. 7 OG Netori Johnson. And those are just the guys in 247 Sports top 100. Only Justin Shaffer is outside of the top 300 and he’s at no. 388. They all join Ben Cleveland who was reshirted in 2016 and was the no. 10 OT from last years class.

Georgia’s line in 2016 was one of the worst in recent memory and with two players leaving a unit with not a lot of depth to begin with, there will be plenty of opportunities for the six freshmen and Hayes to get on the field.

Offensive Line

Left Tackle

Starter: Isaiah Wynn

LT2: Andrew Thomas or Isaiah Wilson

Left Guard

Starter: Dyshon Sims

LG2: Netori Johnson

Center

Starter: Lamont Gailard

Right Guard

Starter: Ben Cleveland

RG2: Justin Shaffer

Right Tackle

Starter: D’Marcus Hayes

RT2: Kendall Baker

Oct 29, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive tackle Trenton Thompson (78) works out prior to the game at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 29, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive tackle Trenton Thompson (78) works out prior to the game at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

This might be the deepest defensive line Georgia has ever had. Last year Georgia utilized seven different players on three positions and all of them return in 2017.

Add top 200 players Robert Beal, Malik Herring to a good group of defensive linemen who didn’t play much in 2016 and Georgia has probably the deepest and most talented defensive line depth chart in the SEC.

Defensive Line

Defensive End

Starter: Jonathan Ledbetter

DE2: David Marshall

DE3: Robert Beal

Defensive Tackle

Starter: Trenton Thompson

DT2: Julian Rochester

DT3: DaQuan Hawkins-Muggle

DT4: Malik Herring

Nose Guard

Starter: John Atkins

NG2: Tyler Clark

NG3: Devonte Wyatt

Oct 17, 2015; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs players linebacker Lorenzo Carter (7) and linebacker Davin Bellamy (17) and defensive back Kirby Choates (33) react after defeating the Missouri Tigers at Sanford Stadium. Georgia defeated Missouri 9-6. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 17, 2015; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs players linebacker Lorenzo Carter (7) and linebacker Davin Bellamy (17) and defensive back Kirby Choates (33) react after defeating the Missouri Tigers at Sanford Stadium. Georgia defeated Missouri 9-6. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Not much changes for the linebacker. All four starters return, D’Andre Walker and Reggie Carter also return to back up those four guys. But the Bulldogs add Jaden Hunter, Monty RiceNate McBride and Walter Grant to add some depth for 2017 and to be he future leaders of Georgia’s linebackers when Lorenzo Carter, Davin Bellamy and Reggie Carter leave

Linebackers

Sam Linebacker

Starter: Lorenzo Carter

SAM2: D’Andre Walker

SAM3: Jaden Hunter

Jack Linebacker

Starter: Davin Bellamy

JACK2: D’Andre Walker

JACK3: Jaden Hunter

Mike Linebacker

Starter: Natrez Patrick

MIKE2: Reggie Carter

MIKE3: Monty Rice or Nate McBride

Will Linebacker

Starter: Roquan Smith

WILL2: Reggie Carter

WILL3: Jaleel Laguins or Nate McBride

Oct 29, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Georgia Bulldogs safety Dominick Sanders (24) intercepted the ball during the first quarter against the Florida Gators at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 29, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Georgia Bulldogs safety Dominick Sanders (24) intercepted the ball during the first quarter against the Florida Gators at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Quincy Mauger and Maurice Smith have graduated and Rico McGraw is transferring. But Malkom Parrish, Dominick Sanders and Aaron Davis return to lead Georgia’s defensive backs. Deandre Baker also returns to start opposite of Parrish and Mecole Hardman leads a large group of freshman corner backs to compete for remaining spots on the depth chart.

As for the safety position, that looks to be settled with Richard LeCounte III, the no. 2 safety in America, and DeAangelo Gibbs, the no. 4 safety, already on campus. Sanders and Davis should continue to start, but LeCounte and Gibbs will not be riding the bench in 2017.

Defensive Backs

Cornerback

LC Starter: Malkom Parrish

RC Starter: Deandre Baker

CB3: Mecole Hardman

CB4: Tray Bishop

CB5: William Poole III

Strong Safety

Starter: Aaron Davis

SS2: Deangelo Gibbs

Free Safety

Starter: Dominick Sanders

FS2: Richard LeCounte III

Oct 29, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA;Georgia Bulldogs place kicker Rodrigo Blankenship (98) kicks a field goal as Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Jacob Eason (10) holds the ball against the Florida Gators during the first half at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 29, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA;Georgia Bulldogs place kicker Rodrigo Blankenship (98) kicks a field goal as Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Jacob Eason (10) holds the ball against the Florida Gators during the first half at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The kicking and punting units should not change for 2017. But there’s much to figure out with kickoff and punt returners, hence their exclusion from this depth chart. Mecole Hardman and Elijah Holyfield are probably front-runners, but coaches might have a dozen more players in mind.

Special Teams

Punter

P1: Marshall Long

P2: Brice Ramsey

Kicker

K1: Rodrigo Blankenship

K3: William Ham

Kickoff Specialist

K1: Rodrigo Blankenship

K3: William Ham

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